Champagne and Mom Go Hand in Hand

There are many wonderful things I love in this world. Cheese. Brian. Brunch. My mom. Being a godmother. My own godmother. (Don’t worry dad. I love you, too!) And, I promise this is in no particular, highly calculated order or anything.

I’ve always loved Mother’s Day, despite the having-never-been-a-mother thing I’ve got going for me. It’s one of the Big Five holidays in our family–Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day–as we’re largely a matriarchy with loud, confident women (if I told you I was the quiet one, would you believe me?). Which pretty much means feasting, family, fighting, and fun. Now that Brian and I own our own home, we like to host family gatherings. I’m not going to lie, though, I’m using the term “we” loosely.

Last year, I took over Mother’s Day (and Halloween. And Christmas Day). As I’m the lady of the family without kids, I wanted to make the moms in my life feel special. So I invited my parents and brother, my godmother and her husband, and my cousin, the mother of my godson, and her family over for an early afternoon brunch of joy. I have every intention of doing it again this year, because it was ridiculous amounts of fun.

So, without further ado, I’m going to give you everything you need to create a delightfully magical brunch for your fam.

Sometimes, I like to have a bloody Mary bar when I host brunch, but I thought it would be fancy if I planned a glorious mimosa bar.

Everything you need for a mimosa bar

  • Champagnemy preferred drink of choice. Obviously.
  • Sparkling almond champagne – It’s a little bit sweeter for your guests who prefer a fruitier beverage
  • Peach bellini – Trader Joe’s has a really great bottle of this stuff and it rounds out your set nicely
  • Orange juice – Apparently, people add this to champagne. It’s not my bag, but I offered it anyways
  • Pineapple juice – I promise, this is WAY tastier than OJ, but you do you, my friends
  • Sliced peaches, oranges, and pineapples – Go big or go home, guys. If you’re going to all the trouble of creating a mimosa bar, make sure you’ve got the right accouterments
  • Maraschino cherries and strawberries – who needs a proverbial cherry on top when you can have a real one? And come on. Strawberries and champagne? Did you even see Pretty Woman?

For Mother's Day, I like to host a brunch for my mom, my godmother, and the mother of my godson to celebrate the beautiful and wonderful mothers in my life.

Now that we’ve got the drinks covered, let’s talk about food. In my family, we cook to feed an army. So when I make brunch, I make a lot of brunch. But…I’m also conscientious of my time. And so when I think about things like cinnamon rolls, I buy them from a store. Some call it cheating. I call it ingenuity.

With kids and adults, creative palates and traditional tastes, I like to offer a wide range of options for everyone. Here is my list of top food stuffs to include on my brunch menu.

Brunch ideas for the whole family

  • Eggs – if you’re going for gold, you can make eggs to order (I don’t) or eggs benedict in a chafing pan. Me? I make cheesy eggs and throw them in a crock pot half cooked. By the time everyone is ready to eat, they’re fully cooked. I also like to offer options, so sometimes, I’ll also make an egg casserole or strata or something.
Breakfast Casserole

This delicious beast is eggs, broccoli, cheddar, and ham atop a glorious crescent roll crust.

  • Potatoes – Nothing says brunch like a big ole pan of cheesy potatoes. I like to throw in shredded potatoes, whatever random cheeses I have in the cheese drawer, some onions, and whatever cream condensed soup is hanging out in the cabinet. The last time I made it, I used Campbell’s Creamy Gouda Bisque, and it was amazing.
Cheesy potatoes

Bake until there’s a golden bubble, and then add more cheese. Of course.

  • Meat – You’ve gotta have something meaty and delicious, but since my family is all over the place, I tend to have 2-3 different types of meat. We might have smoked salmon (cold or hot smoked – both are delicious), bacon/sausage and turkey bacon/sausage, because that tends to make everyone happy. One year I made bacon-wrapped dates and turkey bacon-wrapped dates and LOOK OUT world, because Chrissy forgot to take the pits out of the dates. Everyone ate them anyway (and had to get rid of the pits, obvi).
  • Yogurt bar – This is always a hit. Just get some vanilla yogurt (don’t get Greek yogurt. As much as I love it, everyone will think the regular vanilla is FABULOUS), fresh fruit, local honey, and granola. It’s easy, and you don’t have to cook anything!
  • Baked goods – Fruit breads, muffins, cinnamon rolls, slices of bread for toast, English muffins, bagels, etc. There’s no need to bake these yourself when Panera or Peapod will do it for you. Serve with jams, butter and cream cheese.

Cinnamon rolls

Invite guests with style

Now, you’ve got a plan; it’s time to send out invites. While paper invitations are great for, like, weddings and stuff (and only because my mom is making me do it), I’m a fan of the digitation. For your Mother’s Day brunch, you can use Evite to create personalized invitations with easy-to-track guest lists. Boom.

Evite Sample

What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Do you host or go out to eat? 

This post was sponsored by Evite. Some links used in the content may be affiliate links, which will garner me a small commission should you make a purchase. This helps offset the costs of running this little ole blog. As always, all opinions, ideas, etc are my own. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

5 Things to Avoid When You’re PMSing

The other day, I was bawling like a toddler at the top of my lungs after watching a commercial. A commercial. I thought to myself, Why am I crying like a lunatic? What is wrong with me?

As the second question looped in my head, I knew what was wrong. My period was coming. I don’t care what anyone says, Aunt Flo is a real twisted sister. She barges into your life, disrupting your emotional health, your physical well-being and the poor suckers that have to put up with your shit every month.

When you're PMSing, you want to steer clear of anything that might send you on attack. Avoid these 5 things, and you'll be golden.

In order to make everyone’s lives a little less painful (and give my family fewer reasons to murder me in my sleep), there are a few things I’m going to avoid when I’m PMSing until I can get my emotions in check.

1. Watching television or going to the movies. No TV shows. No commercials. No movies. No movie previews. No YouTube. Not even a funny cat video. Because that cat is going to be wearing a dress that reminds me of that time my grandma … oh crap. I’m going to start crying again.

2. Having any kind of conversation with my mother. I love her dearly, but when I’m about to start riding the cotton pony, everything is fighting words. Her disdain for country music sets me ablaze, even though I don’t particularly care for the genre. Her opinions of my wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyle are unwanted, especially when Aunt Flo is whispering in my ear, “Sic ’em!”

3. Asking for someone’s opinion. I know that I’m right, dammit. There is nothing anyone can do or say to change my mind, whether I’m asking about dressing for the weather, dinner options or what to watch on TV. Next month, I’m going to take charge and do what I want. All. Week. Long.

4. Consuming alcohol. Hear me out before you get your underoos in a knot. I love Margarita Mondays, Tipsy Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, etc. I’m all about the boozy fun, but during Shark Week, alcohol’s enjoyable traits (Dancing, Laughing, Singing) are replaced by their friends (Crying, Sleeping, Whining). Besides, I’d probably end up lying in bed, caressing a hot water bottle in the fetal position until the cramps subside.

5. Leaving the house. You know what? Might as well just give up before I start. When I feel as bloated as if I’ve eaten 15 hot dogs and three cupcakes and drunk a gallon of Coke, I know I don’t look too hot. I sure as hell don’t feel gorgeous. Why not spare everyone the trouble of telling me I look fine all four times I change my outfit before we go out? I’ll happily stay home with those hot dogs and cupcakes.

I guess that doesn’t leave a whole lot for me to do when I’m PMSing. I could spend that time cleaning, reading a laugh-out-loud book, or writing. But that sounds like too much productivity when I’m miserable. I suppose I’ll just have to use that time wisely … and spend it shopping with my tablet in bed.

What do you try to avoid when you’re PMSing or, for dudes, when your lady is PMSing?

©2015 Christine Wojdyla, as first published on Scary Mommy

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Londonberry Lane

My mom wrote this story 13 years ago. It was published in local newspapers and came quite close to being published in Chicken Soup for the American Soul. This is her story; not mine. But on today, a day of remembrance, I think that it’s important for everyone to share their stories. 

Londonberry Lane

by Patricia M. Wojdyla

The sky is blue with pale yellow clouds, slowly turning pink. As the sun sets, there is no sound. The date is September 12, 2001. One day after the Attack on America. One cannot express the mortification we all feel.
 
At forty-three years of age, I am a typical American suburban wife and mother. My husband of nineteen years, Larry, owns and operates our family business. It has been the local bar and grill on Main Street for the past twenty-two years. Our children are typical suburban teens. Chrissy, a freshman, attends Bradley University. She has always been involved in school functions, cheerleading, and civic volunteer work. Brian is a senior at Glenbard East High School. He, too, actively participates in football, wrestling, and he has volunteered with church. We work hard, and are parishioners of Christ the King Church. We care about our community. 
 
Our neighborhood is a very diverse one. Many people from many nations live on Londonberry Lane. We are White, Black, Hispanic and many new Americans. They have come to the United States from India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan. Our faiths include Christian, Islamic, Mormon, Hindu — whatever we want. This is America. Each day, our street bustles with the sounds of children laughing, screaming, playing, riding bikes, and rollerskating. People walk around the block daily. The teen boys playing basketball is a common sight.
 
Not today.
 
Not yesterday.
 
The sky is empty. No planes. What an eerie feeling. Having lived within a few miles of O’Hare International Airport my entire life, I have never known this phenomenon. Airplanes are a part of life. Through all sunsets, sunrises, blue skies and cloudy days, planes fly unconsciously by. 
 
Televisions blare endlessly on, airing the latest accounts. We see horrific images again and again. More buildings are falling as countless lives are lost. War is a real threat. It is beyond belief. This is the United States of America. New York, Washington, Pennsylvania. So far away from our house. But it is our American family that has been killed. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, kids, friends, lovers. Altering the lives of millions of people forever. Entire companies wiped out. The whole scenario is completely mind boggling.
 
We will continue to go to work, our children to school. Our prayers will take a little more effort and time. 
 
As the sun sets on the American flag, it brightens our house on Londonberry Lane. 
 
So quiet, one could hear a pin drop.
 
No children playing.
 
No women walking.
 
No laughter.
 
No planes. 
 

We remember.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I Think in Church – Easter Sunday Edition

You guys, I don’t want to sound like a heathen, because I’m totally not…I just don’t find myself frequenting the house of God. So on Sunday, when I showed up and made my mom cry (with joy) because I’m such a good daughter pretty much the best daughter ever, it wasn’t like a regular thing. Especially considering our move on Saturday (more on that later)…and our now living 35 minutes from my parents (and the church) instead of 15 from the parents and 10 from church.

Anyways, I started thinking (as I tend to do), and I couldn’t stop. So I figured you’d appreciate (if not commiserate) with me.

  • I think I’m having a panic attack. Okay, so to be fair, I did eventually figure out the problem…Before heading to church, I stopped at Walgreen’s for Easter basket treats for my favorite tiny humans. This means very little, except that as I was walking to my car, I started feeling that faint, OMG I’m dying and can’t seem to stop shaking thing. Of course, I realized quickly it was some type of caffeine spike or coming down from one…because (Whoops!) I used my Brew Over Ice coffee (highly concentrated) instead of regular Keurig coffee-without ice. So I slammed two of the chocolate-covered Peeps that were supposed to go in Easter baskets (I would have just had one, but you can’t give one kid a Peep and not the other…) and made my way into mass. I was shaking for the first 20 minutes.
  • I wish I had an Easter hat. Remember when you were a kid and you really actually got an Easter bonnet to wear each year? I’m going to start doing that.
  • Why didn’t I bring my phone in with me? I suppose it’s better this way…but when I finally started wondering what time it was-you know…15 minutes in, I had to scan the pews for a watch I could read.
  • Do you think Father is trying to punish the Chreasters or have a larger audience to talk about himself? After a 40-minute sermon, I was getting ancy. So I verbalized this question to my mom. Who looked at me funny. And asked what I meant by “Chreaster.” I explained (in a humored whisper) that a Chreaster is someone who shows up to church on Christmas and Easter. She chuckled and said, “Well, SOME people put Mother’s Day into that list.” Yeah Mom, I get the hint. I told her we call those CME’s. And she shushed me again. She never did answer my question though.
  • What TIME is it? I realized we hadn’t even gotten to the consecration (of course, when I whispered this to my mom, I called it “the kneeling part”) and I found a watch relatively close by….it was almost 1 o’clock already!
  • That kid is too old to be fucking around. There was a kid, probably 8 or 9 years old, laying down across the pew, sprawling himself out and just behaving like a very small child. I understand that there are many non-verbal things that could be going on with the child that I wouldn’t know about, but based on the fact that Mom kept picking him up and he kept laying himself back down, he likely just wasn’t listening to her. If that had been me? I’d have been taken outside and spanked…then brought back in and expected to sit quietly and behave for the rest of mass.
  • That guy’s pants are way. too. tight. Okay, so my mom was actually the one to verbalize this, but she was totally right. Don’t let your man wear tighter pants than you. That’s what I always say!
  • I really hope that people can’t hear what I’m thinking. I pretty much think this all the time, no matter where I am. Sometimes my thoughts are inappropriate as fuck and other times they’re just plain weird.

Unfortunately for my mom, I verbalized most of my thoughts, but whatever. There’s nothing more fun than making your mom cry and then laugh. But only if she’s crying the happy cry. Don’t be an asshole. Duh.

Did you go to church this weekend? Do you go to church? Do you think weird things when you’re supposed to be pensive and reflective?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

This is Halloween: DIY Sally Skellington Costume

Halloween Costumes 2017
Every time I post a Halloween picture, thought, or idea…my mom asks, “Why aren’t you showing off your costume?!?” It’s really adorable actually. First, it’s adorable because my mom is one of my most dedicated readers. Second, it’s adorable because she’s super proud of her work. Her work, you ask? Yep. So here’s how this went down:

For Halloween, Brian and I were going to go as an old time villain and damsel in distress. But when we planned our Disneycation, it was decided that we needed costumes a little bit earlier than normal… Like September 14 early. And the costumes in question-we weren’t totally in love with. So, we started perusing the idea list. Brian had left open some tabs with Jack Skellington and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas… (Oh right, one of my typical requirements is a ginger costume so that I have an excuse to re-dye my hair right before Halloween). It was the perfect idea. Now…to find the costume.

When I couldn't find a costume I liked, I made my own DIY Sally Skellington Costume and my boyfriend made part of his Jack Skellington Costume

I pinned a few ideas to my Sally Pinterest board…but I was unimpressed with the quality of costumes available. I wanted authenticity. So I decided that I would make my own costume. I would get a base dress, some fabric to match the patches, and sew the patches to the base dress with black yarn. Easy peasy, right? Not right. I got the dress and vintage clothes with the fabric I wanted from garage-sailing one Saturday afternoon during the summer, stopped off at my parents’ house, and got started.

15% Off Easy Costume Kits via TrendyHalloween.com

Obviously, after the needle bit my hand 3 times, and it was evident that I was doing a piss-poor job of sewing this thing…it was not going to go very far. Luckily…Mom was sitting right there…telling me, “You’re doing it all wrong. Give it to me!” I handed it off to her…and all of a sudden my project became her project. Plan successful. Mom took over. Now, my mom is hand-sew, knit, crafty, crafty genius…and despite her arthritic hands, took it upon herself to spend about 30 hours working on this masterpiece.

When I was looking for the perfect Sally Halloween costume, I couldn't find what I wanted. So my mom and I worked together to create this DIY Sally Skellington costume.

The base dress with the Sally sleeves

Every so often, I would head over to the house for a fitting…and Mom’s work of art was beginning to take shape.

When I was looking for the perfect Sally Halloween costume, I couldn't find what I wanted. So my mom and I worked together to create this DIY Sally Skellington costume.

Looking good, right?

So I was getting pretty stoked about this costume…and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Mom stopped using the black yarn as thread and switched to multiple strands of black thread. You can sort of tell the difference, but they both look awesome, and it’s not supposed to be uniform, so it worked out REALLY well. (The regular thread made it way easier to sew.)

Finally, it was less than a week before we left for Disney…and my costume was DONE! I was ridiculously excited, even after we got skunked while packing for the trip.

halloween at Disney Sally and Jack costumes

Brian’s costume still needed a little work done before Halloween, but it worked while we were in Disney.

Brian eventually finished his costume by wearing a suit (it was FAR too warm in Florida to wear a suit jacket and pants to wander the Magic Kingdom), making a bow tie out of a bat and a wire hanger, and getting skeleton hands.

 

Disney magic in my DIY Sally Costume

Disney Magic. *sigh*

Note, while at Disney, we invested in a Zero! So I still needed a few things too… the boots and the stripey socks. It took me until the day of the big Halloween party (this past Saturday) to find exactly what I was looking for. But I found them. And the end result was pretty fantastic.

Jack Skellington and Sally DIY Costumes

Jack & Sally (My mom’s awesome, right?)

Have you ever conned one of your parents into doing something you knew they would do better than you? Have you ever made your own Halloween costume because the store-bought ones just weren’t cutting it? What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Speeding Excuses

I heard on the radio that the excuse most frequently used by speeders is: “I have to go to the bathroom.”

I’ve used that one…sort of. Let me give you a hint: It didn’t work. My boyfriend at the time was actually speeding so we could get to a bathroom, so I could pee…$250 (Hello, Wisconsin) and 40 minutes later, I finally got to pee. Ironically, the words I said, not 5 minutes before getting pulled over, were, “Don’t speed too much. I don’t want to be the reason you get pulled over.”

Funny, most excuses don’t work for me. My mom on the other hand seems to get speeding tickets pulled away on a silver platter.

Excuses that apparently work

My mom was pulled over on the way to the University of Chicago for her first Interferon treatment. When the police officer pulled her over, she said to him, “I’m on my way to my first chemo treatment!” and proceeded to cry. Whilst essentially true, and genuinely upset about the prospect, this excuse got her off the hook.

Many years before, mom was driving with me in the front, and my baby brother asleep under blankets in the way back of the station wagon. I’m not sure if she was pulled over for speeding or something minor, but the police officer saw me in the front without a seat belt (at 4 or 5) and asked why I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. My mom exclaimed, “I’m a terrible mother! I’m sorry officer.” The officer never noticed my brother illegally seat belt free in the far back…and I put my seat belt on. Again, mom was told to move on free and clear.

Another time, while cutting through a neighborhood near ours with a “Dead End” and “No Outlet” sign, mom was pulled over. After yelling at the police officer (AKA bitching) about how our neighborhood has cut throughs all the time and ranting that there was no fancy sign for OUR neighborhood across the street, the police officer again set my mother on without so much as a warning.

Excuses that apparently don’t work

Crying. I’ve tried it. It got me no where but yelled at.

Playing dumb: A few year ago, I was attempting to quickly get home from the grocery store while cooking dinner. I had run out to get a few things to add, and was trying to make good time. I pulled out and made an illegal right turn on right a few blocks from my house. I got dinged and the police officer asked if I knew what I had done. I told him that I didn’t, but he proceeded to ask, “How long have you lived in Glen Ellyn?”

“My whole life, officer.”

“And you didn’t know there was no turn on red there?”

“I’m not very observant.” Whoops! I was trying to come off as ignorant…but apparently came off as snotty and smart-ass. Note to self: dumb people don’t say words like observant in the proper context.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!