Posts by Kelly Mattei

I grew up in Alabama but have lived in Charlotte, NC, for almost 20 years...longer than I've ever lived anywhere. My husband and I have a teenage daughter and three dogs. We love to laugh, and fun is the name of our game.

My Favorite Athletic Shoes

My Favorite Athletic Shoes.

Let me start by saying that I haven’t always been one to spend a lot of time in athletic shoes. I normally wear them for the exercise of the day and ditch them afterward. For whatever the reason, I have never wanted to spend whole days in sneakers, or as we called them growing up, “tennis shoes.” Yes, growing up in Alabama, we never used the word “sneakers;” we just used “tennis shoes” instead. Unless shoes were specific to a sport (basketball shoes, cleats, etc), we just called everyday athletic shoes “tennis shoes.” I don’t know why.

My teenage daughter is into sneakers, though, and even wears them with dresses on a regular basis. And she looks cute! Because of that, I’ve noticed lots of adults doing the same, but I still couldn’t do it.

But recently, a friend posted on Facebook that she had bought the most comfortable sneakers she has ever owned. It was a brand I had considered purchasing before, but I had chosen to stick with what I know. Her post, though, made me rethink the brand, and I looked online, discovering that the company has a “try it for 30 days” policy.

The brand? ON brand athletic shoes. You can see their website here. They have a patented CloudTec technology that’s “engineered to deliver a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off.” I’m the first to admit that the sound of “soft landing” sounds great, but there will never be an explosive take-off in any shoes I’m wearing! That being said, I wanted to try them. I had nothing to lose, since they have that “try it for 30 days” policy. So I ordered two pairs after filling out their questionnaire that helped determine which of their shoes would be best for me.

The two I purchased? The Cloud and the Cloud X. My thought process? Use the Cloud for everyday wear and the Cloud X for exercise.

I received them within a few days and tried the Cloud first. I immediately took them out of the box and put them on to wear around the house, and I found them very comfortable. They’re lightweight, and they don’t slip. They offer good arch support, and their breathable and flexible. They’re cute too! Even my teenage daughter gave them a thumbs up! Soon after I put them on, my phone rang, and I did what I always do…I walked outside to walk laps around the pool while I talked. And the Clouds were awesome! A few days after that, I went to work as a substitute in the library at my daughter’s school, and I wore the Clouds. I’ve never been one to wear athletic shoes to “work,” but these are so cute and comfortable…I couldn’t resist! And I was glad I did. My feet still felt great at the end of the day.

I also wore the Cloud X sneakers when I went out for a walk, and again…I was thrilled with the comfort level! The Cloud X sneakers are built for more activity than the Clouds…they’re more durable, a little heavier (not much), and still offer great arch support. No surprise…I love the Cloud X sneakers too. I often have difficulty finding athletic shoes that don’t slip on my heels. If they don’t slip on my heels, they’re often too flat…I feel like I’m walking uphill in them. Or as I tell my husband, I feel like I have clown feet. But with the Cloud X, I didn’t feel like they were too flat, and they didn’t slip at all. Sold!

Surely, you can guess by now that I didn’t need to use their “try it for 30 days” offer. It hasn’t been 30 days since I got them, but I knew after just one day of wearing each pair that I didn’t need 30 days. Honestly, I will likely never purchase another brand. I love these shoes! In fact, I love them so much that I keep going back to the website to look at different colors. Yes, I love them that much. They offer so many different shoes…you need to check them out yourself: waterproof, hiking, trail running, everyday wear, and more.

If you’re looking for new athletic shoes, try On brand. With their “try it for 30 days” policy, what do you have to lose?

Your Daily Bright Boost

Your Daily Bright Boost

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I love Hungry Girl. Need some easy cookbooks that offer swaps for higher calorie recipes? Turn to Hungry Girl. Need some fun low-cal cocktails? Hungry Girl! Want to try a beverage mix that was developed to offer nutrition and a morning (or anytime) pick-me-up with only 20 calories? Hungry Girl has that too! It’s called Hungry Girl Your Daily Bright Boost, and I love it!

I’m not one to try nutritional supplement fads. As soon as someone says “whey protein shake” to me, I run the other way. I don’t hang out at the local nutrition stores, looking for a miracle cure to growing old. But when Hungry Girl developed Your Daily Bright Boost with Eboost, I was game, because I know Lisa Lillien, the founder of the company, helped develop the product, and she isn’t going to put the Hungry Girl name on something she doesn’t believe in. In fact, I could hardly wait to try it! Hungry Girl has never steered me wrong, so I felt confident I would like it.

I ordered a box of 15 mix packets, and when it arrived, my teenage daughter and I each mixed a packet with water and added lots of ice. We sat down at our kitchen table and tried it together, and we both declared it delicious. A nutritional beverage that can please a teenage girl and her 53-year-old mother? Sold!

Hungry Girl Your Daily Bright Boost contains 15 vitamins and minerals, collagen peptides to improve skin appearance and nail growth, caffeine to put a little pep in your step…all for just 20 calories and mixed into a delicious citrus-flavored driving mix! And guess what else? It’s gluten-free, soy free, non-GMO, and sugar free!

There are lots of different ways to mix it. Sometimes, I stir the mix into 8-10 ounces of cold water and add lots of ice afterward…sometimes it’s cube ice, and sometimes it’s crushed ice. The crushed ice version feels a bit like a slushy to me, and I love it! Who wouldn’t enjoy and orangey-citrus slushee?

I have also been known to mix it with water/crushed ice and top it with whipped cream, which can sit on top or be stirred into the beverage to create a creamsicle flavor…refreshing in the morning or by the pool in the afternoon!

But here’s the great thing about it: it tastes great while delivering nutrition! Sometimes I drink it from a giant Tervis tumbler with a giant straw, and sometimes, I pour it into my Camelbak straw cup and take it with me. Sometimes I drink it in the morning, and sometimes, I sip it through the afternoon. When people ask me what I’m drinking, they actually get a little jealous when I describe the deliciousness…and nutritional qualities it offers…at just 20 calories.

Now that we’re heading into fall, I’ll continue enjoying my Hungry Girl Your Daily Bright Boost. The citrus flavor will make me feel like the best parts of summer are still here! If you’d like to order, click here. And if you’re not familiar with Lisa Lillien and her Hungry Girl brand, you should check out her website here. You can get great recipes and tips! You can also watch her live on Instagram at hungrygirl or on Facebook at Hungry Girl. She is adorable and funny…and I enjoy watching some of her recipe videos.

Try it! I’d love to hear what you think!

Who Wants A Jetpack for Christmas?

Who wants a jetpack for Christmas?

Yes, it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas. However, I remember how I would start making my Christmas list for the next year as soon as it was over. I don’t do that now, but there are some things I’ve always wanted that were far out of reach. I’d love to hear other people’s wish lists.

-Jetpack. On the news recently, there was a story about two airline pilots reporting someone flying near them with a jetpack on their approach for landing at Los Angeles International Airport. I was intrigued. I have always wanted a jetpack…since seeing one in the opening credits of the short-lived 1970s Saturday morning live-action show called Ark II as a child. If you don’t remember the show, I’m not surprised. I have mentioned it to various people over the years, and not one other person has ever remembered it. It’s a Mad Max-type show that was aimed at kids during the CBS Saturday morning lineup, and I must have been the only kid who enjoyed it. (You can watch an episode on YouTube here.) But like I said, in the opening credits, there is a guy flying with a jetpack. In fact, the lead actor, who is the captain of the ark, is the guy who portrayed the original Jack Abbott on The Young and The Restless. His name was Terry Lester. Unfortunately, he died in 2003 from a heart attack at the age of 53. But back to Ark II. Yes, people can fly in jetpacks, but there aren’t that many of them out there, and according to a company in Australia, you can purchase them for $250,000. As unbelievable as it seems for people to be flying around today, imagine how unbelievable it was in 1976! I wanted one then (I was nine years old), and I still want one now. How incredible would it be to just put on a jetpack and go where you want to go? I could get errands done a lot faster! Or I could just fly over the city. I have regular dreams about that, but we won’t get into the Freudian meaning there. Years ago, my friend, Mary Ann, called me telling me her young son was trying to tell her what he wanted for Christmas, but she couldn’t understand him. He had endured lots of ear infections, so he didn’t always pronounce words clearly. I asked, “What is he saying?” She was standing beside him and asked him to tell me what he wanted. He said, “Et pat.” She put the phone back to her ear, and I said, “He wants a jet pack.” She turned to him and asked, “Are you saying you want a jet pack?” He got excited, because finally she got it! He is a teenager now and speaks as clearly as anyone else, but at the time, Mary Ann couldn’t believe I knew what he had said. “How did you get ‘jet pack’ from ‘et pat’?” I said, “Because I always wanted a jet pack when I was a kid too.” In fact, I still want one.

-Flying Car. You’re likely beginning to see a theme here, but my flying car is not like what you see on The Jetsons. Mine is more of a short-distance, low-flying car that can get over traffic. I’ve thought it all out when I’ve been behind a slow car in the passing lane (that’s the left lane, for those who don’t know it), wishing I could pull back on my steering wheel like an airplane throttle. I have actually thought this through. The flying cars wouldn’t be long distance flyers. The flying ability would be for only short distances, enabling the car to get over slower cars. In my mind, these flying cars would require operators to obtain a special license issued by the FAA. Part of the license testing, aside from normal operations, would include safety…knowing how to look for overpasses and power lines ahead. So, if you ever see me stuck behind a slow car in the left lane, you can know that, at that very moment, I am dreaming of my flying car. I don’t think Santa can help me with this.

Vaccine. Of course, I want a safe vaccine for this stupid coronavirus! I want us all to be able to resume life as we know it. I want to be able to hang out with friends. I want my daughter to be able to play sports. I want college students to be able to enjoy the college experience…going to classes instead of remote learning, going to football games, socializing. I’m thinking I should move “vaccine” to the top of my wish list. I actually created a meme about this a while back showing Cindy Brady from The Brady Bunch on Santa’s lap. Remember the episode? Carol Brady had laryngitis, but she was supposed to sing a solo at church on Christmas. Cindy was brokenhearted that her mother might now be able to sing and told Santa all she wanted for Christmas was for her mother to get her voice back. Long story short…it was a Christmas miracle! OK, so it wasn’t a miracle, but Carol’s voice returned in time for the solo, and Santa got all the credit. Maybe we should all take the time to go sit on Santa’s lap and ask for a vaccine?

Obviously, I’d love to have cures for lots of diseases. I’d love to have world peace. Those are obvious. I’m sure there are more things I’ve thought about over the years, but for today, they’ve slipped my mind. Maybe you have some of your own “interesting” things on your wish list?

If you’d like to see a cool “flying people” video, click here.

A Fun, FREE Dance Workout

A fun, FREE dance workout…with tWitch (Stephen Boss) and Allison Holker.

Did I just say FREE? Why yes…yes, I did! Don’t be afraid of the word “workout.” This one is fun, and you can make it as easy or as difficult as you like.

I have followed tWitch and his lovely wife, Allison Holker, on Instagram for a long time. They are both great dancers, and they often post dances from their home. They’re energetic and fun to watch. If you aren’t familiar with tWitch, he was a runner up on a season of So You Think You Can Dance, but he’s probably best known as the DJ (and now co-executive producer) on Ellen. His wife, Allison, is also a former So You Think You Can Dance contestant and a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars. Together, they host Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. If you’re not familiar with either of them, look them up on Instagram. You can find tWitch under sir_twitch_alot, and find Allison under her name, allisonholker. But you can find both of them and their workouts on Instagram at bossfamilyworkout.

There are so many great things about their workouts. They take less than 30 minutes, and you can do them almost anywhere. You don’t need a DVD player, and you don’t have to pay for an app. It’s totally free. As long as you have your phone and follow them on Instagram, you can follow along with their workouts. And for each one, they show how to make it higher impact or lower impact. They walk you through it, and they have great personalities…making it a lot more fun.

I know tWitch is a good guy, because I have a friend in Montgomery, Alabama, whose daughter took hip hop classes from him years ago. According to my friend, all the students loved him. He was patient, and he was fun. I loved tWitch before she told me that, but I loved him even more after learning he taught hip hop to kids and was a beloved teacher!

The workout tWitch and Allison do is dance-based. No surprise there, since they are both dancers. But even if you don’t consider yourself a dancer, you can do some variation of their workouts. Sometimes I do low impact, and sometimes, I do the higher impact. Sure, it’s less than 30 minutes, but at least I feel like I’ve done something when it’s over. Plus, tWitch and Allison are super enthusiastic…making it a lot more fun. They are a super cute couple…playing off each other and laughing at/with each other all the time.

If you can step back and forth, you can do these workouts. While they are dance-based, they’re not difficult, and like I said, they always show an easy variation. They also repeat sequences (don’t let that word scare you), so it’s pretty easy to catch on…even for a 53-year-old mom! Seriously, I look forward to new workouts! They don’t post them every day, but because they are recorded, you can repeat workouts till the next one is out.

Did I mention tWitch picks the best music? Yeah…he is the DJ for Ellen. He knows what he’s doing, and he knows how to pick music that’s motivational. Most days, I find myself walking around singing or humming the songs from the workout.

So if you gained the Quarantine 15, or even if you didn’t, I think most people will enjoy their workouts. Look for them on Instagram and join in! They are recorded, so you can do them anytime and anywhere! No expensive equipment! No gym fees! No crowds! Just do them in the comfort of your own home! And have fun!

A New Obsession

A new obsession…

I have a new obsession. I have always liked mid-century modern architecture and noted it in passing. But recently, after learning some types of mid-century modern architecture are called Googie architecture, I have become obsessed.

Think Mad Men or even The Jetsons. If you ever watched Mad Men, you remember some of the cool building designs of the era. I’ve seen examples of them throughout my life, but I never had a name for them until now…Googie, which is defined on Wikipedia (not a great source, but fine for this use) as “a type of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.” It started in Southern California in the 1930s and spread throughout the nation through the 1970s. I have always been fascinated by Googie architecture, but I just didn’t know what it was called! Now that I know, I’m searching for Googie influences everywhere!

I’ve seen examples in the Los Angeles area, where the style can be seen in lots of places, most notably at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). One of the most iconic examples of Googie is well-known, the Theme Building, that futuristic building at the airport that looks a bit like a space ship. (See featured photo at top.) I remember seeing it the first time I visited LA in 1989, and every time I go now, I take a picture of it as soon as I see it. If you’ve ever flown into LA, you’ve likely seen it. If not, you’ve probably seen it in movies and TV shows like California Suite and Mad Men. When you see it in a show or movie, you know the location is LA.

There are lots of other easy-to-find examples in the LA area: the Union 76 station at the corner of South Santa Monica Boulevard and North Crescent Drive (another favorite); Pann’s Restaurant on La Tijera Boulevard; Norm’s Restaurant on La Cienega; and Mel’s Drive-In in West Hollywood. And another favorite in the area is the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. Originally, it was the Beverly Carlton, but was rebranded as the Avalon a few years ago. See photos:

When I was a little girl and lived on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay in Alabama, there was a place nearby that was an interesting example of Googie. It was called Pineda Island Recreation Center, and by the time I came along, it was defunct, but the Googie “ruins” are still standing. It was a recreation area built around two pools, an Olympic pool and a diving pool. The pools were encircled by Googie covered areas that created shade for guests. It opened in 1960 but closed soon thereafter, due to financial issues, from what I understand. When I lived near there in the 1970s, I found the area fascinating, because of its futuristic look. In fact, I still find it fascinating. The slideshow below (from arctic.edu) shows the rendering by the architect, Bertrand Goldberg. It also shows shots from the center of the structure, one when it was open and another current one of the “ruins.” You can also see a current shot from above the area from Google Earth.

Also, in the 1970s in downtown Mobile on Government Street, there was the Admiral Semmes Motor Hotel, another building I admired. It has long since been demolished to make way for progress, but back in the day, it was a cool building. Of course, motor hotels are now a thing of the past. Chances are, if you can remember the old Howard Johnson’s motels and restaurants, you saw an example of Googie-style architecture there too.

Fast food restaurants had a Googie thing going on back in the the day too. Remember the McDonald’s fast food restaurants that had the golden arches in the facade of the building? And maybe you remember Burger Chef? See photos below.

Yes, I’m completely obsessed now. Everywhere I drive, I’m looking for examples of Googie. Feel free to share your photos with me and tell me where I might see some interesting Googie architecture.

Weird (or Disgusting?) Canned Foods

Weird (or disgusting?) canned foods.

Recently, a friend invited me to join a Facebook group dedicated to weird foods and recipes. Honestly, I am totally addicted to it…the page, not the weird foods…because there are so many crazy posts. Every day…heck, several times a day…I see something posted there that just blows my mind. So many times, I’ve thought, “Who would eat that?!?!”

Yesterday, I shared a picture of Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken on my personal Facebook page, and it got quite a reaction. Here’s the photo:

Most of the comments were right in line with my own thinking. “What the heck?!?!” “How disgusting!” “Why????” Seriously, I can’t understand why someone would want to purchase a whole cooked chicken in a can, but to each his own. If you’ve ever used one for a recipe or just eaten it straight out of the can, please let me know…blech!!!

And that made me start thinking about other canned foods. I’ve eaten some pretty disgusting canned foods…Vienna sausages would be at the top of the list. When I was little, I loved Vienna sausages. Back then, lots of southerners called them “Vi-een-a” sausages, but even with a fancy name, they’re nothing short of disgusting. Spam? You betcha. I ate it when I was a little girl. I didn’t love it then, and I can’t even imagine eating it now.

I’ve made tuna salad with canned tuna and chicken salad with canned chicken (not the whole one, mind you), but for whatever reason, I don’t think those are disgusting…maybe because I know other people use them for salads too? As a child, I ate salmon patties made by my mother from canned salmon. Yuck. My brother ate canned sardines any time he went fishing with my uncle or grandfather. I don’t know why that seemed like a good idea, but they did it. Personally, I would have just taken a peanut butter sandwich with me if I needed protein…but they took sardines.

A year or two ago, I watched a video of a man eating a can of seal meat. I don’t remember exactly what the circumstances were…either he lost a bet or he was going to win a lot of money if he ate it without vomiting. He did it, but not without gagging. Ugh. It was disgusting and funny at the same time. Fortunately, since it was just a video, I couldn’t get the aroma from the canned seal meat, but it was clearly a bad odor.

For a less disgusting canned food option, this summer I tried canned bread. Apparently, it’s pretty common in New England, but I had never heard of it till May or June of this year. I don’t even know where I read about it, but as soon as I did, I ordered some on Amazon. The brand? B&M. Honestly, when I first saw what brand it was, I was a little taken aback. Why would anyone put a giant B with a giant M on a can? My mind went straight to “bowel movement,” but I was able to get past it. When the cans arrived, I packed them in my luggage to take to the beach, where we were meeting friends. I thought it would be a fun treat. And it was actually pretty darn good! Ours was raisin bread, and we toasted it and buttered it…if I’d had a little cinnamon sugar, I would have topped it with that too, but it wasn’t bad without it. If I were stuck somewhere and needed food, I could definitely survive on canned bread.

A friend says she grew up eating Dromedary Canned Date Nut Bread and loved it with cream cheese. I looked online to see if I could buy it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I found several recipes, and on Vermont Country Store, I found a loaf of date nut bread. I remember the Drapers on Mad Men having it on special occasions…I definitely need to try it. I’ll be ordering from Vermont Country Store here.

There are lots of other canned foods I haven’t tried. I’ve seen canned macaroni & cheese and canned potato salad in my local grocery store. I’ll be buying them soon, just to see what it’s like. As a kid, I ate Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti and canned ravioli…both of which sound absolutely disgusting to me now. I remember seeing jars (does that count as canned?) of pickled pigs’ feet in gas stations, and I’ve heard you can buy canned bacon and canned hot dogs. Not sure I need to try either of those, but maybe I should just so I can say I’ve had the experience? I’ll be scouring the shelves of my local grocery store…and after I’ve tried them, I’ll post about them.

Till then, I’ll be trying to recover from the stomach ache I have from thinking of these various canned items. Ick.

Maple Creme Cookies, Anyone?

Maple creme cookies, anyone?

My daughter and I used to visit a friend in Maine every summer for a couple of weeks. We loved it. We loved the beaches in Wells and Kennebunkport. We loved the food…lobster rolls? Yes, please! We loved the people and the shopping. And we fell in love with maple cream candies. Since then, I have occasionally ordered maple sugar candies and maple syrup from a company in Maine.

Last week, I got the news that Nabisco was putting out a new Fall flavor of Oreos…Maple Creme Oreos! I was excited! No joke…I immediately went to Amazon to see if they had them, and indeed, they did. The least expensive way to purchase them was to purchase 12 packs at a time. No big deal, right? My daughter and I love Maple Creme!

The cookies arrived a couple of days later. The box was big! It was exciting! I opened the big shipping box to find another box, and I could hardly wait to break into it. My husband handed me scissors to get the job done, and when I opened it, the packages looked glorious! My husband, on the other hand, thought I was nuts. “Why did you order twelve of them?” He didn’t really want an answer…it was actually just a way for him to say, “You have lost your ever-loving mind.”

I called upstairs to our teenage daughter and asked her to come downstairs, because I had a surprise for her. She came down, and when she saw the Maple Creme Oreos, she got excited too! She grabbed a pack and took them upstairs to her room, while I opened a pack in the kitchen. They looked delicious…golden Oreo cookie outside with maple cream, caramel-colored filling on the inside. I took the first bite. Hmmm. Then I took another bite…and giving it the benefit of the doubt, I took yet another bite, thinking maybe my taste buds weren’t registering it correctly.

Except they were…

My tastebuds registered it correctly. I didn’t like them. I went up to my daughter’s room and asked her what she thought. She had already powered through a few of the cookies, and she said, “They’re good!” Apparently, my daughter likes the “artificially flavored” maple creme cookies, and I’m in the minority, because I went back to Amazon and checked the reviews…there are ten 5-star reviews and only one 1-star review. That means most people loved them. So don’t take my word for it; you might like them. I think the real problem is that it’s just way too sweet for me. It just tastes like sugar to me. If you want to read the reviews or purchase some, you can get them from Amazon here.

There is no way my daughter can eat all twelve packages of the Maple Creme Oreos before they go bad. She usually loses interest in a food if she eats too much of it. My guess is that she will finish one pack, and she’ll be never think about them again. Those other ten packs will simply go bad while they take up space in our pantry.

But then…I had a thought! If I can just be patient and let them sit there for two months, some trick-or-treaters (if we’re allowed to have Halloween) will get full packs of Maple Creme Oreos in their trick-or-treat bags! Yes, we will give them candy too. They will think they’ve hit the Halloween jackpot at our house! Who knows? They might even like the cookies! Maybe I won’t regret the purchase at all! Maybe I’ll get to see some big smiles on some ghosts and goblins.

So maybe I won’t have to regret this purchase. Seeing smiles at Halloween will totally be worth it, right? I have regretted bigger purchases, so this is pretty minor, fortunately.

I’m really disappointed, though. Oreo has made so many delicious flavors over the years! I wasn’t a fan of the original chocolate/cream cookie till I was an adult. Something about the flavor was too harsh. But as an adult, I like them…especially the Double Stuf version. I have always loved Golden Oreos…I can’t keep them in my house, because I will eat all of them in one sitting. Some of my favorite special flavors: Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter, Mint, Carrot Cake, Lemon, Peppermint Bark, Firework (with popping candy in the creme), and Apple Pie. I think some of them are seasonal. I never tried the Cherry Cola flavor or the Dunkin Donuts Coffee flavor…if I ever see them in the store, I will buy them.

Till then, I’ll stick with what I know. And if you want Maple Creme Oreos, you don’t have to dress up like a ghost or goblin on Halloween. You can simply ask me for them!

Fluffernutter Sandwiches

Fluffernutter sandwiches…the glorious blend of peanut butter and Fluff brand marshmallow creme on white bread.

My friends in New England have known about Fluffernutter sandwiches their whole lives, so they might be surprised to know people in other parts of the country have never heard of them. Well, I can’t speak for people in the midwest or west, but I know lots of people in the south are unaware of the Fluffernutter.

How do I know that? Well, after I posted about Fluff and Fluffernutters on my personal Facebook page this week, I got lots of comments from friends, saying they had never heard of the Fluff/peanut butter combination. One friend emailed me, saying, “I had no idea marshmallow fluff was such a thing! I’ve bought it for a recipe. But never just to eat!” Yet another friend asked me if Jet-Puffed brand marshmallow creme works the same. Short answer? No…it doesn’t spread the same way. Only Fluff will do.

Want the recipe? It’s simple. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread (I always use white bread for Fluffernutters). Spread Fluff on another slice of bread. Put them together for a Fluffernutter! FYI: I don’t use as much peanut butter or Fluff as shown in the top photo, but maybe I should!

I learned about Fluff and Fluffernutters years ago, because I had the good fortune of meeting a friend who had grown up in the Boston area. She became one of my closest friends ever for lots of reasons, and yes, maybe the fact that she introduced me to Fluff made me love her even more! She loved Fluff and had been eating it since she was a little girl. In fact, she said that when she was a child, her grandmother would often make her Fluff sandwiches…sans peanut butter…because that’s what she liked! We would laugh when we talked about it, because she was basically eating a sugar sandwich. My daughter loves a Fluffernutter…even now that she’s in high school, I put them in her lunch every now and then.

If you’ve never tried a Fluffernutter sandwich, it’s high time you did. You will wonder how you managed to live so long without knowing about this glorious treat! I was probably close to 40 when my friend told me about it. In fact, I included it in a list of simple sandwiches in a post a couple of years ago. You can see that here. Peanut butter is good with lots of things…bananas, chocolate, apples…the list goes on and on. So should it be any surprise that combining it with marshmallow Fluff makes a great combo too? Trust me. Once you’ve learned this hack, you’ll never go back. I have a friend in Alabama who says she gained 20 pounds after I introduced her to Fluffernutters.

My Boston friend also introduced me to the deliciousness that is Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, because that’s something else New Englanders have known about since the beginning of time. Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee is hard to beat. When our kids were little, we would vacation with my Boston friend in Maine every summer, and every day, we would get iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts. It’s a sweet memory. And try Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with your Fluffernutter…one sweet, joyful experience!

And recently I learned that some people toast their Fluffernutters! I had no idea that was a thing, but I’ll be trying that today too! How did I never think of that? Does anything sound more like comfort food than a toasted Fluffernutter?!?

So if you are a parent or grandparent who has never tried a Fluffernutter or served one up to your child or grandchild, now is the time. You can be a hero at home if you make them this treat! *Disclaimer: Of course, if they are allergic to any of the ingredients, do not serve it.* Kids gobble up this treat! I have a friend in Alabama who is a grandmother, and she questioned me about it after my Facebook post. I told her the grandkids will love it!

If you have trouble finding Fluff in your grocery store, you can order it from Amazon here. I recently ordered it after I couldn’t find it in grocery stores in Charlotte. I used to get it in Target, but I haven’t seen it there in a while. (There’s nothing wrong with Jet-Puffed, but it just doesn’t spread the same way.)

When you try it and love it, say a little prayer of thanks and tell God to give a thumbs up to my friend, Wendy, in Heaven. She passed away in June of 2018 after battling cancer for years. But I think of her every time I have a Fluffernutter or Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee.

Bring on the Fluffernutter!

Embracing My Inner Ouiser

Embracing my inner Ouiser.

I saw Steel Magnolias soon after it premiered in 1989, and once I could digest some of the questionable southern accents (Tom Skerritt and Darryl Hannah, I’m looking at you), I loved the movie. As a southerner, I saw characters I could totally identify with. Growing up in Alabama, I knew people like those characters. I knew folks like M’Lynn, Truvy, Clairee, Drum, Shelby, Annelle, and yes, I knew people like Ouiser.

On Facebook, I often see these silly quizzes titled Which Steel Magnolia Are You? Yes, I take the bait and jump right into the questions with gusto. Going into them, I’ve often thought of myself as the very practical M’Lynn. Sometimes, I might be a cross between Claire and Truvy. But after all these months of COVID? I’m becoming Ouiser. And honestly, I’m embracing my inner Ouiser.

Normally, I consider myself a “glass half full” person. I try to see the positive side of things, and I look for silver linings. I’ve never considered myself a “glass half empty” girl. But now, since I’m embracing my inner Ouiser, I might have to become a “throw the glass against the wall” kind of person. Damn glass…who cares if it’s half full or half empty? This is so out of character for me, but I just need to wallow in it right now.

If you’ve seen the film, you know Ouiser is the grouchy, sarcastic member of the friend group. She is “eccentric.” And honestly, she brings a lot of flavor to the movie. Shirley MacLaine, even as a non-southerner, brought life to a character all good southerners have known at some point in life…the grumpy neighbor lady…the bitter teacher…the friend’s mom who locked them out of the house during the day all summer…the old lady with the constant scowl on her face…the old woman who screams at neighborhood kids for being too noisy. We know them.

I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but I have it on my list of things to watch again in the next month or so. I’ll squeeze it in somewhere between old episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, Family Affair, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Partridge Family. Oh, and don’t forget That Girl. You can see Steel Magnolias on Amazon Prime for a small fee here. Yes, I’m digging deep to find some joy…anything that takes me back to a happier time, because life in the days of COVID? Well, a lot of the joy has been sucked out of daily life. I’m just telling it like it is…just like Ouiser would.

So to channel my inner Ouiser, I looked up some of her best quotes from the movie, and here they are…for your reading pleasure:

I’m not crazy; I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!

I’m pleasant, damn it! I saw Drum Eatenton this morning at the Piggly Wiggly, and I smiled at the son of a bitch ‘fore I could help myself.

Ugh. Leave me alone.

Don’t try to get on my good side. I no longer have one.

The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God.

He is a boil on the butt of humanity.

A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I’m not as sweet as I used to be.

This is it. I’ve found it. I’m in Hell.

Honestly, Ouiser doesn’t have a lot of the best quotes in the movie (that award goes to Truvy), but her character is a doozy. She says some of the things we would all like to say sometimes, but our manners keep us from saying them. She gives that meaningful scowl…the one that says “eat s**t and die.” It’s not likely I will start walking around telling people to “leave me alone,” but right now, I want to. I want to stand up and scream at the world to just stop! Just stop! Stop trying to make it look like COVID isn’t ruining a lot of our fun! Stop trying to make it look like everything is “normal.” It’s not. And yes, before you come at me telling me “we live in the best country in the world,” I will tell you that yes, I know that. I know I am fortunate to have a loving family and a roof over my head. But damn it, I’m sick and freaking tired of COVID. I know people who have died. I know people who have been terribly ill. And by golly, it’s OK for me to have a bad attitude for a while…just because.

I know my friends and family expect more from me, but frankly, I just want to kick COVID’s ass for messing up the good thing we had going on.

But after all this, I’m sure I will pull myself together. I will not be shouting “bah, humbug” at people or telling them to “leave me alone.” I’m sure that in a few days, I will embrace my inner M’Lynn or Clairee, once again, and move on. But unless you want to encounter Ouiser, you might want to tread lightly till the weekend.

In the meantime, if you want to join the Ouiser Fan Club, call me.

All My Rowdy Friends…

All my rowdy friends have settled down.

Yes, that’s a quote from a Hank Williams Jr. song. I used it for two reasons: 1. I love me some Bocephus (Hank’s nickname). 2. All my rowdy friends really have settled down. When I say they have “settled down,” I don’t mean they’re not fun. I mean they have “settled down” into who they are. They are comfortable in their own skin. They’re still a lot of fun…maybe even more so. They’re in their 50s.

Today, another friend turns 50. I have been in my fifties long enough that I feel sorry for all those folks in their 30s and 40s who still take themselves so seriously. No, really…I feel sorry for them. Lots of them are still worrying about what other people think. Lots of them still think they need to make the hamster wheel spin faster. They still think more expensive = better. Lots of them still think they have to keep up with the Joneses. Bahahaha! Yes, I feel sorry for them.

Interestingly, my friend, Jennifer, who is turning 50 today has been an old soul for as long as I’ve known her, but she’s also the most fun person I’ve ever known. We met about 15 or 16 years ago through another friend, when they both lived in Charlotte. The birthday girl moved to Columbus, Ohio, years ago, and the friend who introduced us moved to the Chicago area years ago. We were all supposed to go to Lollapalooza together in Chicago this year, but COVID messed that up.

When I say Jennifer has been an “old soul,” I don’t mean she has some sort of Yoda-like wisdom. She’s wise, but she’s no Dalai Lama. She has a different kind of wisdom. She can smile through almost any situation. Nothing seems to get her down. I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, but she has had to talk me off the ledge more than once. I’ve seen her in situations where she should have been on the ledge, and she wasn’t. She kept smiling and kept moving forward. She also doesn’t worry about what other people think of her. As an example, she went back to work a couple of years ago, so I’m sure she “dresses” for work, but before that? T-shirts and shorts with sneakers or Birkenstocks every day. Chilly outside? She’ll throw on a sweatshirt or hoodie. During winter, I’m sure she wears long pants, but I’m guessing she still wear sweatshirts or hoodies every day. Handbags and shoes? She has a few designer bags, but like I said…I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her in anything but sneakers and Birkenstocks. Well, I saw her in hiking boots when we did a rock scramble with sprained ankles years ago. Yes, we both had sprained ankles.

As for the hamster wheel. Yes, she works again, but it’s not her whole life. She doesn’t “live to work.” She works to live. Her work doesn’t define her. She knows the hamster wheel is just a means to an end.

And she really is the happiest person I know. Nothing phases her. When she was looking for a job after not having worked for 15 years, she called me and told me when her first interview was coming up. I said, “You’re going to get this job.” She laughed, as she often does, and said, “I haven’t worked in 15 years! Why would they hire me?” I said, “Well, you’re confident. You’re clearly smart…you went to graduate school at Vanderbilt. Most of all, you’ll be good for morale in an office setting. You’re Miss Merry Freaking Sunshine!” Guess what? I was right. She was offered the first job she interviewed for in fifteen years, and she has been working there since.

Did I mention Jennifer has always been a lot of fun? She had a lot of fun in high school and college…and beyond. Oh, the stories she tells. She has a different kind of fun now, but frankly, she makes everything fun. She’s always up for the next adventure…and we have had many: rock scrambles in upstate New York, cold lake swimming in upstate New York, climbing a waterfall in Puerto Rico, swimming in the pitch black bioluminescent bay, ziplining in a rainforest, shopping with street vendors in NYC, riding bikes through a state park in Florida, all kinds of crazy fun in California. She lives life. And she encourages others (like me) to live our lives.

Am I worried Jennifer is going to get down about turning 50? Not one bit. She will approach her 50s just like she approaches everything else…with a big smile on her face and a sense of adventure.

She’s Miss Merry Freaking Sunshine!

Happy 50th to Jennifer!