On the third day of Christmas baking with Sweet'N Low®: Three French Hens, er, French Butter Cookies

On the third day of Christmas baking with Sweet'N Low®: Three French Hens, er, French Butter Cookies

I partnered with Sweet’N Low® to bring you this special “12 Days of Christmas” recipe.

The Christmas countdown has begun! This year, I’m singing along to “12 Days of Christmas” with Sweet’N Low® and celebrating the holiday season with a new recipe inspired by the classic song.

The makers of America's favorite pink zero-calorie sweetener selected a dozen bloggers—one for each day of the song—and tasked each with sharing a holiday recipe based on our assigned verses. My verse? The third day of Christmas, that of “Three French Hens” fame!

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Good to know: Parents and grandparents can help deter underage retail marijuana use

good to know colorado 

This post sponsored by Single Edition Media on behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Back in the '80s and '90s, when I was a Colorado mom with three young and growing daughters, warning them to stay away from marijuana use was pretty simple. There were health reasons to why I wanted them to steer clear of smoking the stuff, of course, but the bottom line of my stern warnings was this: Marijuana was illegal. Don't do it. It's against the law. Case closed!

Now that I'm a grandma and those three daughters have grown and gone — and added a few beloved grandchildren to our family tree — talking to the kiddos about marijuana use isn't so much the...

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Great American Smokeout: How my husband quit smoking for life

This is a sponsored post in partnership with the American Cancer Society. All opinions and anecdotes are my own.

great american smokeout

When my future husband and I first started dating, he had it all. The personality. The kind heart. The looks. The hair. 

And he had a cigarette in hand. Always.

 1981 smoker

I wasn't a smoker, though all six of my siblings and both of my parents were, so...

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Put meds up and away for Grandparents Day... and every day #MedsUpAway


I was just a wee bit older than my oldest grandson — who's currently 6 — when I discovered treasures in the bathroom. I recall checking that no siblings or parents were around, then slinking into the main floor bath, quietly closing the door and locking it, then climbing atop the vanity to stand and face the cabinet as my feet straddled the sink.

I'd then open the mirrored door and peruse the goodies inside. I'd open the makeup...

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Security for seniors living alone: Vtech's Careline Home Safety Telephone System

My mother-in-law was always a strong, independent woman, even into her late seventies. She lived alone and no one could tell her what to do nor when to do it. She accepted help and assistance reluctantly, if at all. Unfortunately, her determination to manage on her own left her fully dependent on the staff of an assisted living center, unable to care for herself.

One night a few years ago, after a medical scare that sent her to the hospital, my mother-in-law was determined to return home, determined to change the tank of her required oxygen on her own. Sometime in the wee morning hours — the family isn't sure, as she was alone and can no longer remember herself what happened — my mother-in-law got up to change her oxygen tank, had a stroke with violent seizures in which she hit her head on the wall with tremendous force. No one is sure exactly how long she was unconscious nor on the floor as she was discovered only when my sister-in-law arrived to check on her hours later.

There's certainly no guarantee that if my mother-in-law were equipped with a device such as the Careline telephone system that she would be back to her old self again, but she surely would have fared better. With such a system, calling for help would have been as easy as pushing a button. Unfortunately, the what ifs are many yet of little consequence as there's no way to turn back time to change the outcome.

There is a way, though, to avoid a similar circumstance with my own mother, who also lives alone. One of my sisters currently stays with her occasionally, as she's in the midst of a residence change. But on most days and nights, my mom is by herself.

My mom suffered a stroke several years ago, so the fact she lives on her own is of huge concern not only to her but to her adult children. She worries about what may happen if she falls during the day, has medical issues during the night. My siblings and I worry about the same. That said, she's a young senior — in her early 70s — and wants to live on her own, have her own home. Being relatively healthy and of sound mind, there's no reason for her not to, as long as a few precautions are in place.

Enter the CarelineTM Home Safety Telephone System. I was offered the opportunity to try out the Careline system from Vtech and knew immediately my mom would be the perfect one to try out the product.

Together we followed the quick installation guide and had the Careline up and running in no time. The answering system was easy to set up, as was programming speed dial for four folks my mom can call by pressing one button (with a spot for a photo for each of those buttons, for easily remembering which number belongs to whom). We set one button as 911, another is her dear friend and neighbor, who would come running if called.

The display on the base, handset and pendant are easy to see, easy to figure out their function. "They're big numbers, big letters, big words," Mom said. "I won't have any problem being able to see."

She also won't have trouble paying a monthly fee for the system as there is no monthly fee. It simply connects to the phone jack, like any other land-line phone.

The pendant, which she can wear around her neck or clipped onto her waistband or pocket, features two buttons that correspond to those programmed as first and second speed-dial numbers on the base. The pendant can be controlled by voice, but no matter how we tried saying "What is the time?" or such, the recorded woman's response was that she couldn't understand us.

Also frustrating was that the clasp easily comes undone and needs to be reinforced with SuperGlue or tape. Overall, though, I'm pleased my mom won't be headed out to work in the yard without the pendant, and that if any unfortunate slips, stumbles or worse were to take place, with the touch of one button she'd have a neighbor at her side.

Between the base and its plentiful and helpful functions, the handset and the pendant, my mom and I are more confident about her safety while alone, day or night.

"This makes me feel secure and modern," Mom says. "It'll help stop a lot of worries of going to sleep at night alone."

It'll help stop her kids from worrying about the exact same thing.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are
my own.

My messy moment: The evils of weevils

Holidays are fraught with messes, some by way of the physical trappings associated with the festivities, others due to the psychological trappings associated with festivities spent with extended family. My messy moment features a little of both.

Many years ago I established a tradition of spreading Indian-corn kernels on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Friends and family are invited to place kernels symbolizing their personal blessings in the special "gratitude" dish at any time during the meal. It’s a kinder, gentler, and less intrusive way of getting all around the table to give thanks without shining an invasive spotlight on folks not used to spotlights or  expressing gratitude out loud, be it to friends or to family.

I can never explain the tradition to newcomers to our Thanksgiving table. Each time I begin the explanation, I get all verklempt thinking of my many, many blessings. Thankfully one of my daughters (who are all quite used to Mom's perpetual state of verklemptness) always steps in and explains it for me—another blessing that increases my verklempt state. Every time.

That’s not the messy part of the story, though, as my daughters regularly rescue me from what could be a messy situation.

Here, friends, is the messy part: The first Thanksgiving I hosted at my house for all the extended family—including my older sister and her husband, whom I wanted desperately to impress—things got messy. Naturally it would be the year that when I pulled out my "gratitude" dish with Indian-corn kernels saved from the previous year and dumped the kernels onto the beautifully set Thanksgiving table, weevils—who'd been happily noshing on the kernels all year—scattered everywhere. A mess. An embarrassing mess that required complete removal of not only the contents of the gratitude dish, but the tablecloth that held the germs and more from the evil weevil residents who had made the dish their home.

Yes, I made an impression. Just not at all the one I wanted to.

Needless to say, I wasn’t so thankful for the gratitude dish that year.

Even more needless to say: I no longer save my Indian corn kernels from year to year.

photo: stock.xchng

Disclosure: I received information about Clorox’s Bleach It Away campaign and am sharing my messy moment for the chance to win prizes from The SITS Girls. To learn more about the messy moment program, check out www.BleachItAway.com.  Sharing your story on the Clorox fan page gets you entered for the chance to win $25,000 and daily prizes, and you can grab a coupon for Clorox® Regular Bleach.