Blog Posts by IlinaP

  • User post: How to Mix the Perfect Summer Cocktail

    Photo credit: Ewan Munro, Wikimedia CommonsPhoto credit: Ewan Munro, Wikimedia Commons

    Summer hit hard and early in North Carolina this year. The heat, after a wet, wintry winter, was at first a welcome friend. We had daydreamed about summer afternoons frolicking in the sprinkler and lazy days reading comic books in the hammock. Those daydreams gave way to humid days with air quality warnings and a yard full of mosquitoes. Yet the heat lingers. The dry days carry on endlessly. And it's awfully hot.

    There is a perfect way to bring back the refreshing parts of winter's chill in the midst of this summer heat. A Pimms Cup.

    Pimms Cup is the quintessential summer drink that is traditionally served at Wimbledon. Its lower alcohol content makes it easy on your sobriety for daytime drinking yet leaves you feeling tingly and refreshed. It requires simple ingredients that most people have on hand (minus the Pimms, of course - that requires a trip to the liquor store). And if there is no Pimms to be found, you can easily substitute gin - preferably Hendrick's. The proportions and

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  • The A-List for Summertime Fun


    When I was in about third grade I staged a rock concert with my neighbor Kelli on our retaining wall. She was Pat Benatar. I was Alice Cooper. Back then we thought Alice Cooper was actually a girl. I am reminded of our escapades every year around this time when I can't shake Alice Cooper's song School's Out for the Summer. If my ear worm paid royalties Alice Cooper would be an even richer man.

    My sons are counting down the days to school's end (seven days as of the writing of this post). They both love school but are hankering for summer's lazy days. They are going into third and first grades so they are still at an age when school is more fun than painful. Both boys are eager learners and revel in curiosity and exploration. Spending the summer over scheduled in camps and sports leagues would make them (and me) crabby.

    Don't get me started on over scheduled kids.

    My sons go to one camp a month that meets for 3 hours a day for a week. The rest of the summer is spent just hanging out

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  • User post: 3 Ways to Use Up Those Eggs Now That Easter Is Over



    Now that the Easter Bunny has hopped away to sleep off the chocolate buzz, I bet you're left with a whole mess of eggs. I'm not talking the plastic variety. I mean hard boiled eggs that are either vibrantly magenta or a rough shade of puce from too much color mixing. I have a fridge full of hard boiled eggs that don't look particularly appetizing on their own. Here are some ideas to use up those eggs in ways tastier than a pinch of salt and dash of pepper can do.


    Egg Curry. This dish is family favorite and staple, even when it's not Easter. It's easy to whip up and tastes even better the next day.


    Potato Salad. I like mine with some chopped hard boiled eggs, crumbled bacon, chopped pickles, red onions, and apple cider vinegar mixed with a tish of plain Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard.


    Salad Nicoise. I don't follow the traditional French rules here. I pile some spinach in the middle of a large platter and top it with good quality tuna in olive oil. Then I add little piles of goodies

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  • User Post: A Dream in a World of Nanny Nightmares

    Trusting your child to someone else is the biggest leap of parenting faith. We hear about far too many nanny nightmares, and babysitter from hell stories abound on the playground and in PTA meetings. Finding quality childcare is hard. Finding someone to love your children and become part of your family is a dream. Allow me to share a few words about an uncelebrated but much loved woman who has graced our lives.


    Miss E.


    Miss E. was our nanny for several years. The word nanny doesn't do her justice, nor does babysitter. Miss E. was the consummate giver of care, yet caregiver is too cold a moniker to bestow upon this most special lady. Miss E. was more grandmother than anything. She showed my sons Bird and Deal the kind of unconditional, patient love that only those whose blood you share can give you. The boys adore her still, though she hasn't been with our family for a couple years now.


    She came in the wee hours when I had the mysterious lump removed from

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  • Every time I see a teenager's head down tapping away on a cell phone, I shiver just a tish. I can't help but be haunted by a story I heard while at the Yahoo! Motherboard Summit last summer.


    "If just one boy had hit delete my daughter might still be alive today."


    She had a crush on a boy. Who didn't harbor crushes at 15? I'm not sure what transpired, but somehow the neural misfires that define our teenage years, combined with easy handheld technology, roused this girl to send a compromising photo of herself to said crush. Couple that with more neural misfires, a teenage boy's hormones on overdrive, a pinch of Big Man on Campus Syndrome, and you have a disastrous marriage of technology and teendom.


    The boy didn't hit delete.


    Instead he forwarded her photo...and so on and so on and so on. Pretty soon practically the whole school had seen THE PHOTO that was meant for one boy's eyes only. Back in the day if you showed a boy your boobs you were pretty

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  • 5 Resoultions You Won't Break



    I never make New Year's resolutions. I find that I can't, won't, don't commit and end up disappointed. I don't need more stuff on my to do list or more reasons to feel like a failure. I've had my bouts with committing to eating healthy and exercising blah blah blah. It never sticks because I do both those things anyway. If I went all Emeril and kicked it up a notch I'd have to eat and train like I was a triathlete, which I am decidedly not. Once I made a resolution to try something new in the year, something adventurous. Having completed nothing by November, I realized that adventure scares me. I suppose there's something to be said for self awareness.


    Instead, I pass on the resolutions and simply make a list of some simple things to guide how I live my life. Here's my list for 2011.


    1. Try a food you've never had before. Kimchi. Fiddlehead ferns. Stinky cheese.
    2. Pay for the person's coffee behind you in line. It's remarkable how easy and uplifting it is to show a little kindness.
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  • 5 Random Acts of Kindness




    Kindness, also known by its aliases Grace, Benevolence, Selflessness, Friendliness, Compassion, is something we take for granted. We expect it more than we bestow it.


    We teach Kindness to our children through lectures and rants and reactive examples that stem from plugging up a playdate gone bad. There are tomes about how to talk to your children about gentleness and respect. Teaching kindness tends to involve an awful lot of talking and not that much doing. As a mom, I find myself talking about kindness more than actually demonstrating it. Kindness is often more a concept than a true living example.

    Kindness comes in many colors. Helping someone stow a bag in the overheard compartment (a personal favorite since I am only five feet tall). Passing a supremo parking spot to let the car behind you have it. Writing a hand written thank you note to a teacher, barista, mailman, or anyone who makes you smile a little brighter and skip a little higher. Kindness must not cost lots

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  • User post: 20 Simple Ingredients to Set Up a Champagne Bar

    A bit of the bubbly is the perfect cure for the Black Friday Blues and Family Drama Overload of the holiday season. Most people reserve the bubbly stuff for weddings and New Year's Eve. I say bring out something bubbly for those times that your groove is less than sparkling. I like to mix things up every year and serve my guests something different from the staple wine and beer.

    I'll be entertaining over the holidays so I plan on stocking loads of bubbly in my wine fridge. I'll set out a few odds and ends for my guests to plop into their glass should they prefer a tinge of color or a walk on the wild side. You'll thrill your guests and be the talk of the town if you set up a simple champagne bar.


    Simply place your champagne glasses on a tray alongside some cocktail napkins (I have an unhealthy infatuation with cocktail napkins. I. Can't. Stop. Buying. Them.). Put everything in mismatched little bowls and pitchers. Make it casual to whack the snooty air right out of Read More »from User post: 20 Simple Ingredients to Set Up a Champagne Bar
  • User post: 5 Ways to Make Grilled Cheese Sizzle





    Nothing is more hearty and comforting than soup and grilled cheese when the chill of Fall blows in. It makes for a tasty and quick lunch or dinner (or supper, depending on where you're from, I suppose). Gone are the days of canned tomato soup laden with sodium and neon orange waxy slices of something akin to cheese. My childhood friend's mom used to make us grilled cheese on smushy white bread with "cheese product" cut from an industrial size orange brick. I believe she even cooked it in margarine. I shudder at the thought.

    I've given grilled cheese a much needed makeover. In fact, some of these concoctions are so good that they're even company worthy. And as far as my soup of choice, tomato. But this time it's homemade or organic. And nothing but real butter to cook the grilled cheese!

    1. Add thin pear slices and a few crumbles of bleu cheese to monterey jack on Italian white bread.
    2. Layer gouda, thin apple slices, and thick cut bacon on whole wheat bread.
    3. Spread dijon mustard
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  • User post: Super Hero costume not included

    Every week is like the life of Sisyphus. It's only Wednesday, yet I've already spent many hours volunteering at my sons' school, working part time in my own marketing consulting business, making homemade Halloween costumes for my sons and me, writing letters to the editor, hosting an Indian cooking class at my house for a school field trip, cooking dinner for my husband's new colleague, swapping out summer shorts for fall sweaters, organizing closets and junk drawers, sorting clothes for donation and consignment, taking my dog to the vet, walking the dog, squeezing in a work out, cooking healthy meals for my family, packing my sons' lunches, filling a grocery bag of food for the local food bank, celebrating a friend's birthday, and oh, trying to stay on top of being a decent wife and mother.

    This doesn't even include the inane activities like replacing burned out night light bulbs, cleaning the fridge, buying pants and jackets for the kids, arranging and rearranging baby sitters,

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