Momma Told Me: March 2014

Blog Archive

Blast From The Past: The Hair Of Yesterday

Retro Permtastic
Momma Told Me: Don't let your hair wear you!

Oh hair- We have had a love/hate relationship. When I was 5 I was left in charge of my own grooming- I had dirty blonde hair down to my butt. Somehow the act of scrubbing and rinsing seemed less appealing than writing on the tub walls with colored foam soap, so Momma inevitably chopped my gorgeous locks off. Then came the perm. Oh how I loathed the perm- the hours sitting with my head on fire, smelling of chemicals, then the weeks of not knowing how to care for the mass of curls. I think Momma thought it was 'cute' in a Shirley Temple sort of way, but I was more of a tomboy, and the look simply didn't translate. After near a year of a short bob perm, came the dreaded bowl cut. From prissy little girl to brutish tomboy, I was thrust into my own stereotype and left with coke bottle glasses and a 90's bowl cut. It was traumatizing.
Auburn and Brown Haircolor
Only one other time have I cut my hair since the dreaded perm-bowl of the 90's; at age 15, with a new-found obsession for boy bands and rebellion. My parents had just finalized their divorce, and I, idolizing P!nk, convinced my mother to have an 'accident' with the hot pink hair dye my father had said I could use as a highlight. In came the pixie cut, and Pink went my entire head. For a solid 6 years after I let my hair return to it's natural Auburn brown hue, and refused to cut it for even a trim. Luckily, my hair grows fast, and I am not one to tease and torture it with styling (if you discount my unhealthy blow-drying obsession). Somewhere around 22 I got the itch to be 'different' again. Truth be told, if I wasn't working 3 jobs, and had a little more in the bank, I probably would have satisfied the itch with tattoos- a more permanent expression.
Vibrant Hair Color at home with Adore
Haircolor was an affordable, easy enough to change, method of self expression I could play with from the comfort of my own bathroom sink. I played with a LOT of brands- I tried Manic Panic, Splat!, Ion, Beyond The Zone, and more. All of these brands promised 'color' but really left nothing more than a washed out, muddy, faded tint after the first few washes. When I was about to throw int he towel I stumbled across an import brand at an Asian Beauty Pro Shop- Adore. Not only was the brand affordable ($5 a bottle), but the product had a fruity floral fragrance and was extra gentle on lightened hair. I learned quickly, with a little internet research, Adore should and can be left on much longer then the directions suggest. For maximum vibrancy expect to color your locks for 3-4 hours. The results were an undeniable success. I had friends, family, and strangers asking me to add a dash of color to their hair. At one point I literally had 5 different colors, a rainbow, of streaks in my hair!
Blonde for lightening and color, Black for a color reset
Flash forward to 25, I was growing a little restless of the color mash-up. It was becoming hard to decipher where the original strands of color were; my head seemed more like a melting snow cone than stylists work of art. So I gave myself long bangs, attempted to layer, and did a color reset to Dark Brown. For a good year I kept the large chunky bangs on the front of my face framed with hot pink. Then, last Summer I decided it was time for something drastic, an all-over color that would truly be vibrant. We went blonde- then we went Red, Fire Engine Red. I'm lucky enough that my pale complexion is versatile enough to support any color. However, the Red was arguably the most complimentary hue. I loved it. Unfortunately, my pink bathtub did not, and it was eventually time for yet another change.
Fire Engine Red Hair and Purple Tips
After a minor bleaching disaster (the first in 10 years), I lost near a foot of hair in the process of ultra-lightening for vibrant tips. In came the darkest brown with purple tips, and so I have remained, nursing my damaged ends. But now, now I have the itch again. I also have a professional hair-color and styling company behind me. And they just so happen to have released a brand new Plum tint that pushes the border of traditional cool-infused dark hair-tones. I'm currently debating playing with the 'Gray' trend that is so hot on French runways right now- or keeping the ultra-vibrant tips and styling my whole head with the Plum infused black. Which way will I go? You will have to keep following me on the blog to find out! What look, from above,  is your favorite, on me?

What Daughter Says: Confidence can rock any style. Have you been wanting to go a little bolder? Be fierce and take the plunge!

Spring Is Here- Bring Color To Craft-Time And Craft With Candy

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. No rainbows were harmed in the drafting of this post.
Crafting With Candy, Skittles and Starburst #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
Momma Told Me: Don't play with your food!

Before Willy Wonka ever made his technicolor debut, I was reading Roald Dahl's imagining of the candy filled confectionery and imagining myself an Oompa Loompa in an alternate universe. For much of my childhood I could have very well been Violet Beauregarde or the blueberry imposter Veruca Salt. Okay, so I had much better manors, but I'd also wager a number of good behaviors and chores for a single piece of candy. It's no secret I love sweets, and few candies match my equally vibrant love of color as well as fruity and chewy Starburst or the rainbow delicious #VIPFruitFlavors of Skittles.
Stocking Up On Spring Candy Inspiration. #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
In fact, somewhere around age ten I decided that I would amass the world's largest candy wrapper collection (much to Momma's clear chagrin.) For several years I carefully refolded wrappers and candy packaging and tucked them away in an ever-growing box. One school year I noticed a large number of Starburst candy packs being sold, and the tiny individual chew wrappers floating across our campus. It was then I first decided that crafting with candy was not only delicious but practical. Taking a technique from Momma's teenage years, for gum wrapper chains, I soon began collecting leftover wrappers from staff and students. Before long I had a 5 1/2' Starburst wrapper chain that doubled as a jump rope!
Skittles Crafting #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
Skittles Picture Frame Craft #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
As these things tend to go, I eventually grew out of my fascination of crafting with candy, and the subject was long forgotten, until a recent inspiring shopping trip. Sabrina (11) was asking if we could invest in a Skittles & Starburst 30 Pack from Sam's Club. And, by invest, I mean 'devour.' The parent inside me opened it's mouth to blurt "No way kiddo!" but the wrapper folding, color loving, child began to tug on my inner ear. What if I could show Sabrina that playing with your food can not only be fun, but also productive? We had several teacher's appreciation events coming up and, with spring around the corner, I decided Spring Break would be the perfect time to dabble in crafting with candy again.

My first project was one that could double as a Mother's Day gift, or Teacher's Appreciation (May 6th); Skittles Picture Frame Craft. This project could easily be achieved with some 'dollar store' or thrift store picture frames, clear candy (or test) tubing, white paint, scrap fabric, a hot glue gun, and modelling clay.
Crafting With Skittles #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
Making A Skittles Picture Frame #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
1.) After painting our black frames white with a few generous coats of acrylic paint, I carefully marked the plastic test tubes for a length that would easily interlock along the outside of the frame's natural grooves. Most plastic candy tubing can be purchased cheap online and easily cut with heavy duty scissors, while plastic 'test tubes' like the ones we had leftover from Summer Science Camp, will require an adult's steady hand and a band saw or box cutter.

2.) Once our tubes were measured, we layered our Skittles in the desired pattern, right up to the top of the tubes. I especially loved that, between the Original and Wild Berry Skittles, we had a complete 'rainbow' of colors. Once our tubes were full we pinched off come modelling clay and capped off the ends by pressing it down and along the edges.
Skittles Craft #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
Skittles Fabric Dye #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
3.) Next it was time to glue the completed candy tubes onto our painted picture frame using a hot glue gun. But don't eat those extra Skittles yet- they can be used for fabric dye to create a few extra accents to dress up your frame!

4.) While you can easily dissolve the colored candy coating off these fruity candies with water alone, I use a vinegar ratio, much like dying eggs, that helps to set the color on a new surface (fabric). Separate your leftover Skittles by color, placing 10-12 of each color desired into a small bowl. Add 3 TBS Water to each color 'pot' and 1 TBS White Vinegar. The color will begin to separate from the candy immediately, and you may even see a few magical white 'S's floating in your new dye concoction!
Skittles Fabric Dye (Vinegar + Water + Skittles) #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
5.) Making dye with sugar coated candy is a fun and safe craft for the entire family, and can be applied to many different craft projects- However, in this case we used it to dye some scrap fabric to make a tiny bow accent for our frame. Sure, it may not be the most vibrant dye job, but it's certainly effective! We especially enjoyed twisting up the corners of fabric and dipping the tips into different colors to make a 'tie-dyed' effect. Besides, I think it's pretty cool to know there's more than just candy IN the frame, but ON it as well!
Skittles Picture Frame Spring Craft #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
By the time I'd magically made the last few Skittles disappear (in my mouth), and tossed the leftover clay, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. But there was a part of me that wanted to make a gift where people could also enjoy eating the candy as well, so I turned to my old friend, Starburst. It was at last time for me to pass on the art of wrapper folding to Sabrina; and I would also teach her the skill of creative presentation as well!

Our first task was to unwrap ALL the Starburst in our 30 Piece Variety Pack. Approximately 1 (12 PC) Starburst pack will yield 4 inches of wrapper chain. Of course we weren't going let all those deliciously juicy and fruity, chewy, candies go to waste! I happened to have every crafter, and bakestress' best friend, the mason jar, on hand. We carefully layered leftover Skittles (for our Purple, Blue, and Green), followed by unwrapped Starburst to create a rainbow effect, then topped with a few gold foil wrapped coins to create a Good Luck Jar display for our soon-to-be candy wrapper jewelry.
How To Make Candy Wrapper Chain Links #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
To create a successful Starburst Wrapper Chain is actually much simpler than it looks. Once you have gotten a few links under your belt, you're sure to be folding them without even looking, in no time!

1.) Lay a wrapper down on a table, blank side up.

2.) Fold the wrapper in half and crease. Open the wrapper back up and fold the outer edges in to meet the middle crease.

3.) Fold the outer edges in towards the center crease one more time. Fold the wrapper in half, horizontally.

4.) Fold the wrapper in half vertically and crease. Open the wrapper back up and fold the outer edges in towards the crease.

5.) Fold the wrapper in half, vertically. You now have one link!
Starburst Wrapper Chain #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
Making the chain itself is even more intuitive, once you have a few links together, you'll easily assemble a bracelet or lanyard in no time. 

1.) Take the two ends of one wrapper link and insert it into the two ends of another wrapper link.

2.) You will note that one side of a link will have several creases, while the other end will only have one definitive crease along the outer edge. This 'clean crease' edge is the easiest to insert your next link into.

3.) Arrange each link with the bend of the link fold pointing towards incoming ends. Continue weaving the links into one another, between the folds you have created when folding the links.

4.) Closing the chain, to make a continuous bracelet or belt will require opening up the last inserted link and feeding the 'folds' into the loop of your first link to recreate the folding process achieved by weaving the links. This requires a little more advanced skill and is often overcome with a daub of hot glue.
Starburst Wrapper Jewelry #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
People use wrapper chains for a variety of crafts and decorations. When I was a young girl my pure intent was to see how long I could make my chain. I've since found a simple beauty in re-purposing the wrappers for colorful jewelry. With a pair of jewelry pliers and some basic chain links and grommets (found at the local craft store) I can easily add clasps, watch faces, earring hooks, and more! We invested $6 in the simple silver finish timepiece above, and used an extra wide lobster clasp to turn two strands of Starburst chains into a wristwatch for Sabrina's teacher. I happen to know this woman also loves fun and funky accessories the kids enjoy, so we put some dangle earrings on a loop and wove it into some spare chains to match the watch.
Spring Crafting Inspiration Candy Wrapper Jewelry #VIPFruitFlavors #Shop
Crafting with candy is a great way to get children interested in art and project-making, and the perfect guilt-free way to indulge in a little extra fruity goodness. I know we will have several happy teachers in the teacher's lounge thanks to our Good Luck Jars full of #VIPFruitFlavors, and the frames will look adorable on office desks this coming Mother's Day! I'm also looking forward to experimenting with candy fabric dye some more this Summer, when we have the younger kids around to enjoy learning about color combining and primary colors. We might even try making this blogger inspired Skittles candy wreathHave you ever made anything with candy before?

What Daughter Says: Bring a little extra color to someone's day with handmade gifts featuring candy!

It's Not Oatmeal- It's Granola! Quaker's New Breakfast Revolution

Quaker Warm and Crunchy Honey Almond Granola Breakfast
Momma Told Me: It's more than a meal

As a young girl I favored cereals over pastries and oatmeal for the unique contrast in texture they would offer while jump starting my morning. Today I am ashamed to admit my breakfast regimen is much less complicated and usually involves a protein shake or nothing at all. Let's face it, by the time the kids are dropped off at school, the floors have been scrubbed, the laundry is in the dryer, and the groceries are unloaded it's after 1PM and it's time to head back out again to pick up the rugrats. Now, more than ever adults are leading busy lives that require a strong balanced breakfast that will fuel the day ahead. And, not too surprisingly, more and more of them are like me; skipping the most important meal simply because they feel stopping for breakfast is too much work.
Quaker Warm and Crunchy Honey Almond Granola Breakfast
Quaker Warm and Crunchy Honey Almond Granola Breakfast
Aside from the occasional bowl of Malt O' Meal with a swirl of brown sugar, warm breakfasts such as oatmeal were often my least preferred. I do, however, recall a brand of Quaker children's oatmeal pouches that included dissolving sugar eggs that revealed tiny colorful dinosaurs. The novelty of this breakfast seems to have stuck with me and still finds the product creeping into my adult shopping cart from time to time. So, when I heard about a new range of Quaker warm breakfasts, Quaker Warm and Crunchy Granola, my interest was piqued. Honestly, without the word crunchy, I would have overlooked the product as another type of oatmeal; which it is not.
Quaker Warm and Crunchy Honey Almond Granola Breakfast
This unique warm-serve granola product is currently made in 3 flavor varieties; Cranberry Almond, Apple Cinnamon, and Honey Almond. Retailing between $4-$5 a box, each Warm and Crunchy Granola box features 6 individually packaged servings. However, I've found that an adult such as me requires 2 pouches and a banana to satisfy me completely on a busy day. Thankfully it is no more of a hassle to prepare two or one; adjust the added milk to create the texture of your choosing and pop the bowl in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. It truly couldn't be any easier to enjoy a sweet, heart healthy, breakfast that has plenty of texture.
Quaker Warm and Crunchy Honey Almond Granola Breakfast
While I typically use a 1/4 C of fat-free milk for two pouches (half the suggested amount), I find that the bottom half of my granola softens quite nicely, and the rest stirs in well for a delightful crunch. Remember, this is not an oatmeal, and because of such some younger family members may not care for it as much as those with a more developed palette. Personally, Quaker Warm and Crunchy is a home run for me! I love how easy it is to toss a pouch in my purse and even enjoy one at work. The process is simple, and the flavor isn't overly sweet- making for the perfect encouragement to start my day right! Have you ever eaten warm granola for breakfast?

What Daughter Says: Start your day right, don't skip breakfast- it's the fuel for your day!

What I'm Streaming: Fringe, The Complete Series (2008-2013)

What I'm Streaming: Fringe, The Complete Series
Momma Told Me: Challenge definition.

As someone who watched all 6 seasons of LOST ('04-'10), and was severely disappointed by the seemingly rushed dealing of the series multiple mysteries and questions, I was hesitant to dive into yet another situation when beginning Fringe. While I had watched the Fox network series when it first began in 2008, and for a season and a half after, the complicated plot and characters soon found themselves with little time in my schedule to follow along. It's not exactly the sort of series where you can skip an episode without missing something. While the majority of the first three seasons feature independent cases that wrap by episode's end, the character development and larger story is constantly being developed through subliminal reveals and subtle side-tracks.
What I'm Streaming: Fringe, The Complete Series
There are, however, a few good things about having a series like J.J. Abrams' Fringe available as a complete series, today. For those, like Jay and I, who no longer subscribe to live-stream cable service, we look forward to watching a series where we will not have to wait several weeks, or even months to watch the next episode. Fringe offers 100, yes, 100, hour long episodes over it's 6 seasons. While the show itself is a strange hybrid of X-Files and (crime investigation style) Bones, it is put together quite masterfully by J.J. Abrams and Fox. With a generous budget, and wonderfully complex characters portrayed by amazing actors, some of the shows more 'unbelievable' aspects suddenly seem entirely possible.

The show's title, Fringe, is highly appropriate in that the show's main characters work for a highly classified government agency that deals exclusively with Fringe science; the classification of research and theory which lies on the outer 'fringe' of orthodox and mainstream concepts. Need some examples? Teleportation, rapid aging, sonic weaponry, mutation, and alternate universes are just a small cross-section of the cases and topics covered by the Fringe team. But, unlike most 'case and crime' style shows, there is a much bigger storyline wrapped around the core characters, their own cases have yet to unravel. One thing is clear, the world, as we know it, is ending, but who caused this, and how can it be stopped- that will remain a question until the very last episode!
What I'm Streaming: Fringe, The Complete Series
Fringe is most certainly not a series than can be watched as background noise, which also makes it a good candidate for 're-watching.' As you are drawn into the lovable characters, each arguably with their own flaws, you sometimes miss the ingenious nods to the series themes of humanity, fate vs. free will, and even the human compulsion to play God. Fan of the series will also appreciate the several recurring 'gems' of special characters, Sci-Fi cameos, and multi-part mini-series events within the larger series as a whole. While the plot may be hard to follow at times, the show never gets dull with changes in creative styling, dramatic character re-imagining, and the show's quirky but lovable main character, Walter. If you're bored with the current prime-time lineup, or started the series back in 2008, and never had a chance to finish, I highly suggest Fringe!

What Daughter Says: Fringe may not convince you anything is possible, but it just might make you question what is.

Karina Dresses #Dresstacular 6 Dress Giveaway and $1000 Sweepstakes~ 4/10

Momma Told Me the best fashion is fashion YOU feel confident in. No, it's not about duck toe nails, or 8" heels, or even who had the shapeliest corset bound silhouette. That may work for the runway, but let's face it, we're real women, and Karina gets that. That's exactly why they've partnered with 12 amazing fashion-minded bloggers of every age and shape to show you why a Karina dress is truly a dress for every-body. Not only are these dresses easy to care for, and ultra-comfortable, but the core 12 designs are constantly being released with new colors, prints, and event alterations (hello 3/4 sleeves for self-conscious me!) Don't believe me? Be sure to check out my Dresstacular™ preview post where I modeled the almost retro Nora dress with cap sleeves in Navy with White Polka Dots.
Karina Dresses Nora
Karina's so sure their every-body dresses will change your life, they're sponsoring a special 6 dress wardrobe giveaway, where one lucky reader of our 12 blogs will win 6 Karina dresses! I know you're dying to see how my fellow fashion bloggers styled their Karina dresses, and how the other bloggers wore the same dresses in the past, so be sure to use the nifty linky at the bottom of this post to follow along and visit all 12 of our blogs. You'll score extra entries daily just for visiting and engaging with the other bloggers, so don't be shy with your comments and shares- let's show these real Karina women some love!
Karina Dresses Nora in Navy With White Polka Dots
Karina Dresses has a newsletter you will want to get in your inbox. Each weekly newsletter has a winner of a new dress selected from the email subscribers. You have to open the email to see if it is you! In addition to giveaways, The Karina Dresses newsletter also has flash sales with the hottest prints at almost 50% off! To make this newsletter even more desirable to join, if you sign up and confirm your subscription (or are already a subscriber and enter this giveaway) you will be entered into the sweepstakes for $1000 in Karina Dresses! Are you ready to join the Karina Nation? Subscribe here!

If you are a blogger and you would like to do a review of a Karina Dress, they choose their reviewers from their affiliates! You can sign up to be an affiliate here.

Are you ready for extra entries?
Use @KarinaDresses and #Dresstacular to let Karina know your favorite dress from the Dresstacular™ bloggers. You can also get 100 entries a day by commenting on each of the bloggers posts from the linky below!

Upcycling Old Bottles Into Lamps

Jose Cuervo Tequila Bottle Lamp
Momma Told Me: See the world differently.

I was raised in a crafting household. As a disabled mother and homemaker, Momma was home 365 from my toddler years on up. This meant Summer vacations were spent by her side following grocery ads, and stopping into the local Goodwill twice a week for new inventory. If I owned any 'new' clothes during my childhood it was most likely due to a birthday or Christmas gift. For the most part, my wardrobe was second hand; and, until my teenage years, I rather liked it this way. At least at the Salvation Army or Goodwill I was never told 'no' when I fell in love with a pair of sneakers or some new pants.
Jose Cuervo Lamp Tequila Lamp
But our little shopping excursions were not timed for fashion- Momma had inside connections with the receiving employees to cultivate a special relationship that had her getting second pick. Old weathered headboards, broken antique lamps, and even delicate China would make it's way into Momma's arms and before her discerning eyes.

"What do you see?" she'd ask with a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous curl upon her lip. Even at 8 or 9 I knew how to play the game well.

I'd squint my eyes as though I'd put on my Magnificent Goggles, and hymn and haw as I pretended to see the otherwise junk as priceless treasure, "A bookend, a candle holder, new jewelry!" I'd exclaim enthusiastically, most often not all too far from Momma's intended use. She'd re-purpose the most unexpected things and sell them for an unbelievable mark-up at the local craft fairs.
Beer Bottle Lamp- Mississippi Mud LampBeer Bottle Lamp Mississippi Mud
So, it comes to no surprise of my family and friends that I recently saw a lonely wine bottle with some Christmas LEDs strung inside it and decided I could do much better. Here was nothing more than an empty bottle with some tacky battery operated Christmas lights being sold for $25 at a boutique. I knew, immediately that I could spend a little less than $6-7 to turn actual discarded glassware into real lamps. And so I began collecting various bottles, glasses, and jugs, mainly of the liquor variety with the intent of building custom decor for my friends and family. I drill a hole for an actual cord, tinker with some minor electrical work to run the cord and a switch through the neck of the bottle, and pick out a custom shade to suit the brand or bottle. For my great grandma's 90th birthday I even dressed up her favorite tequila with some hand done ribbon and lace. What do you think?

What Daughter Says: Some of the greatest things have come from the re-imagining of existing things.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Don't Make Lemonade- Make Pie!

This just might be my new favorite picture. Ever.

Momma Told Me: When life hands you lemons, be sure to count them. You just might have more apples than lemons!

Momma's advice really is golden because, much more than turning the bad into good, life is full of ups and downs, and it's important to know how to balance them. Let's face it, sometimes, no matter how many lemons you have, you just don't want to make lemonade. When things get a little too much to bear, instead of diving into it further to find the bright side, why not focus on the good right alongside it? Momma's biggest solution for negative thinking was always apple pie. No, no, not a literal apple pie; though I could have used a slice now and then.

You see, sometimes the not so nice things are squeezed all over the good, and it's hard to pick out the apples under all that lemon juice. It's times like that you need to stop fighting it and appreciate the pie in front of you. Life isn't perfect, if it was, I'd hardly be the individual I am today. We do learn from our mistakes, but more importantly, hopefully, we appreciate our triumphs all the more because of them. So, the next time it feels like it won't stop raining on you, grab an extra large fork and take inventory of your life as a whole. Chances are things aren't as bad as they seem!
This week is my uncle's grandmother's 90th birthday. I specify her relation for you, my readers, but to me and my family she is simply 'Grandma Bea.' She has been a grandma in my life as far back as I can remember, and I suspect she always will be. This is also a good reminder that motherly figures are not born by blood or titles, but the roles they take within our lives that impact us so very deeply. What does any of this have to do with apples, lemons, and pie?

Yesterday we drove out past Los Angeles to attend a surprise party for Bea. The event was a smashing success; many drinks were drank by all (much to the venue's delight) and several embarrassing  drunken dance moves were captured on film for the next generation. It was a great day, but it was also a reminder that my mother's mother, my blood grandma, wasn't there. Just short of a 2 years from her passing, this was a particularly poignant event, as one of the largest family gatherings since she left us. My youngest cousin cradled her newborn daughter, my other cousin is nearing the end of her schooling. Time continues to move on, but I do not think she is missed any less.
After the early morning, long drive, and ample reflection, I decided it was important for us to get out and unwind. Sabrina's (11) parents were attending a military ball, and we had to honor of entertaining her for the night. At Sabrina's request I agreed to make this journey one to a very large and popular children's arcade local to us. It was late when we arrived (9PM), but still a Saturday.

The place was trashed and the staff was lacking. As adults in a kid's arcade, with a tween, we go to places like this to actually play the games. We don't place tokens in slots to mindlessly bang on things or spin wheels. Unfortunately literally every game we approached seemed to be failing or dysfunctional in some way. We spent the better part of an hour and half chasing down a poor attendant on the game floor, waiting for him to refill tickets and clear jams. There were a myriad of other kerfuffles I was not pleased about to; two young children literally bumming tokens off paying guests while their parents watched, food being smashed into the floors as employees chatted as if it was acceptable, and the icing on the cake- paying 1800 tickets ($18) for a chintzy fiber optic lamp that did not even come with batteries and, upon arriving home, proved not to work.

I could go in depth about all of the things that went wrong with our visit, but the truth is; it was still worth it. With 20 minutes to closing, we still had a large portion of unused tokens (after all half the games were down all together and the rest were mindless simulators). Determined to make pie out of lemons and apples, I drug our group to a teeny tiny photo center where we could get black and grey 'sketches' printed for a token a piece. I haven't laughed so hard in so long, as I did forcing those last tokens away. And we have some adorable keepsakes too! Do you often overlook your apples when it's lemon season?

What Daughter Says: Making pie takes longer than lemonade, but ultimately satisfies the soul so much more!

Lay's Do Us A Flavor Wants To Know, What's Your Favorite Dish? #Sponsored #MC

I participated in an Ambassador Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Lay’s. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.
Lay's Do Us A Flavor Contest #MC #Sponsored
Momma Told Me: Let the ingredients guide you.

When it comes to food, some of my favorite dishes aren't made in fast food corporate meetings, or family dining restaurants. They often don't have official recipes, relying on a pinch of this and a handful of that, and were more often than not stumbled upon by sheer accident. Two styles of dishes especially known for this format are those labeled as 'meatloaf' or 'casserole.' By nature, these two dishes are literally defined by the almost haphazard collection of leftover or on hand ingredients. That's precisely how 'Momma's Casserole' was defined at my childhood dining table. The ingredients were always changing, but, somehow, it still had that signature flavor, and hint of love, that made it so special.
Some of my favorite dessert recipes. #MC #Sponsored
When I was 14, my parents got divorced and I took it upon myself to prepare dinner for my father, after school, several days a week. Since I did not do the grocery shopping, and I had limited kitchen skills, this often meant melting down my favorite ingredients into what my father called a 'goulash.' A favorite Friday night version included cream cheese, a dash of Sriracha, and a helping portion of peanut butter simmered over thin slices of chicken breast. Momma would have never let this recipe fly as 'healthy' cooking in her kitchen, but it was just the comfort food needed for a teenage daughter and father living on their own. With several warm memories of this 'Peanut Chicken,' I have since developed the recipe with more of a Thai twist over coconut milk rice, for my own family.
Some of my favorite dishes. #MC #Sponsored
Of course, recipe or not, one of my favorite things about cooking is actually being in the kitchen with the ingredients. Like many, when I find a tried and true recipe, I often work to add my own twist to favorite dishes over time. Some of my favorite recipes have, naturally, been featured here on the blog. There's no shortness of sweets with dishes like Lemon Meringue Pie with Blackberry Compote, Red Velvet Cheesecake, and Potato Chip Brownies (taken from my Potato Chip Recipe Series.) More recently I used a crispy chicken helper to coat some chicken strips and re-invent traditional Sushi in my Crispy Chili Lime Chicken Sushi! For even more of my favorite recipes, and savory photos, check out Momma's Recipes Tab, above!
Cheesy Garlic Bread Lay's Chips #MC #Sponsored
Of course, surprisingly good flavor inspiration can come from a variety of places, and nobody knows this like Lay's. With their Original, Wavy, and Kettle Cooked chip varieties sold worldwide in dozens of mouthwatering flavors, they're once again on the hunt for the next best thing in a foil bag. Their fan favorite Do Us A Flavor contest challenges fans to submit their unique 'must have' chip flavor, for a chance to see it made into a real chip. Last year's three American finalists, Chicken and Waffles, Sriracha, and Cheesy Garlic Bread saw their flavors made into real distributed chips, and this year the competition is back with a $1 Million grand prize (See Rules). The grand prize winner from last year is enjoying their crunchy success with a permanent addition to the Lay's lineup- Cheesy Garlic Bread, sold nationwide!
Lay's Do Us A Flavor Contest #MC #Sponsored
 So, Lay's and I want to know- What's your most flavorful dish? Maybe it's your grandma's recipe for Coffee Strudel; hey, sweet and salty works for chips too! Perhaps you have a sorority pizza combination from your college days you'd love to share with the world. No flavor is too big, no recipe too obscure for the Do Us A Flavor competition. So now through April 5, 2014, be sure to log on to the Do Us A Flavor platform and submit your nominations for the next great chip flavor; Lay's just might decide to make your snacking dreams come true. Feeling a little uninspired? Browse the gallery of submitted flavors and vote on them in the Flavor Showdown; just don't do it hungry, you've been warned!

Do you have a favorite accidental recipe?

 What Daughter Says: Great ingredients inspire great flavors, sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to create a new favorite recipe.