O- Bound (sponsored)

I’m about to fly to Atlanta.  Tomorrow is the O you! event.  As my visitors will recall we had a contest for Ode to the commode, the campaign to draw attention to the Clorox Toilet wand ( a disposable toilet brush, because why do reuse it? yuck)  Clorox is one of O You!’s sponsors and they asked me to do a contest giveaway for ticket to the Premier Oprah Mag event and go cover it myself.  I will be tweeting from @coolmomdotcom handle this weekend about it.

Anyway, the winner of the contest is Lori Foreman of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She seems to be quite a contest player judging from her twitter feed, but she swears she is now a Cool Mom fan… that’s right!  I look forward to meeting her tomorrow.

I’m also looking forward to seeing my cousin Sue Ellen Brogden, ( yes we spell differently, long story) who I have not seen since we were pre teens, well, maybe just teens. My daddy is from Georgia, so I might get a little choked up returning to his homeland.. first time since he died.

Also, dear friends are driving up down Saturday night from Nashville.  So my sked is bascially, land, eat dinner, sleep, Oprah event, eat dinner, sleep, fly home.

I have no idea if will touch the hem of Oprah’s garment or be in the back row while Dr. Oz lectures us to eat more healthy food.  Will let you know!

Win a Trip to “O You!” (sponsored)

Ever watched Oprah and just wanted to walk into her show sit on Suze Orman’s lap as she redoes your finances and have Dr. Oz look into your ears?  Well, that’s not going to happen, but the next best thing.
you could win a trip to go to  O You! O, The Oprah Magazine’s Signature Event.
Look for the key under your seat!  I’m very excited to tell you that I have been chosen as the only blogger by Clorox to give away a trip to Atlanta to attend this SOLD OUT event.


All day Oprah’s faves..and OPRAH herself will be giving lectures on how to live your life to the fullest.  The tickets, if they were still for sale are $125. Clorox toilet wand is one of the sponsors of the event and is paying for one lucky Cool Mom viewer/reader to fly to Atlanta, putting them up in a hotel for the event October 15th.  I am going as well and will be doing some of my Cool Moming (yeah, it’s a verb) on the ground (Nate, oh Nate, it’s me, Daphne, we did a segment on Fashion Team once, oh Nate!) Here is a partial list of speakers:

Oprah Winfrey, founder and editorial director of O, The Oprah Magazine and CEO and chief creative officer of OWN
The top 20 things Oprah knows for sure

Gayle KingGayle King, Editor-at-Large, O, The Oprah Magazine and host of The Gayle King Show on OWN and Sirius/XM Radio

10 things Gayle knows to be true

Lisa LingLisa Ling, host of Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN

Go behind the scenes with Lisa

Suze OrmanSuze Orman, financial expert, O columnist, host of The Suze Orman Show and co-host of Ask Oprah’s All Stars on OWN

The six words Suze lives by

Nate BerkusNate Berkus, design expert and host of The Nate Berkus Show

We asked 9 questions. Nate answered

Dr OzDr. Oz, health expert, O columnist, host of The Dr. Oz Show and co-host of Ask Oprah’s All Stars on OWN
Dr. Oz gives strategies, advice and the quickest route to calm


Clorox, the makers of the ToiletWand, reached out to me to help promote this event. I will be attending the event, and my airfare and hotel is being taken care of.  Which means I also get to visit with my cousin Sue-Ellen, so that’s a plus.
So how can you join me – and that Winfrey lady–in Atlanta?

For an entry, comment on this post and let me know that you “Like” Ode to the Commode on Facebook: www.facebook.com/odetothecommode. Also, answer if you will, who usually does the toilet scrubbing in your household?  ( no right or wrong answer)

For an extra entry, follow @OdetotheCommode on Twitter and tweet: Ditch the ick w/ #cloroxtoiletwand to #win a trip to #OYou2011 w/@coolmomdotcom & @odetothecommode

Yes, toilet cleaner, but let’s face it would we be living our life to the fullest without modern plumbing?  I know when we say what we are grateful at Thanksgiving I so frequently mention it at the top of my list my family makes fun of me. To which I say, the pilgrims wish they had a toilet.

Hey, a free trip with inspiring speakers and lots of like minded people, follow, like, write on the wall AND please write a comment that you did or “enter me” or any brief thing so I can keep track of you all.

One winner will randomly selected from all entries received by 3:00pm PT on Friday 10/7. Good luck!

Look forward to seeing one of you in Atlanta.

For official rules, click here.

Women in comedy: interview with Wendi Mclendon-Covey

A highlight of my trip to Blog Her ’11 was interviewing one of the stars of my favorite film of 2011, “Bridesmaid”, Wendi Mclendon – Covey.  She had my favorite line in the entire hilarious picture and I gushed to her about that.  She is the comic spokesperson for Hillshire Farm and we chatted about those funny commercials… seriously, funny.

She is a trooper, while I think I’m way fun to talk to, I know she had done quite a few interviews that day, yet seemed fresh as a daisy. Watch us here

Check this one out.  It’s the new one.  (Best line “We’re pretty!”) If only all commercials were that clever, but hey they can’t all be Pack It.  I also brought up a legend’s birthday that had resonance with her.

wendy mc

As someone who interviewed actors on TV for years it was nice to have more than 90 seconds to chat.  That’s one of the advantages of the web. I really hope she continues to get work, funny women usually get shafted… oh we talked about that too.

This the third and final installment of posts with Hillshire Farm.  I’ve enjoyed doing them and was given a wide berth creatively which I love.  I also got some great coupons from them at Blogher and the deli meats have been getting gobbled up at the Brogdon/Peel household.

Finding the Good in Back To School (sponsored)

Can you smell it?  Can you smell the tension of trying to get your kids dressed, hair brushed and “for the love of God, put on your shoes” as you try not to get a tardy?  You’d think it was my report card at stake.
Yes, I can smell back to school time is close.  Oh, those last gleeful moments of summer.  Outdoor dining in the back yard, staying up late and mosquito bites. Lathering up the kids with sunblock, glasses, sun hat and the rose of summer: Cherries!


I know some parents think summer creates more work for them, but I have really enjoyed it this year.  But, I have to look for the bright side as summer wanes.

Brightside #1

When Rex starts his two day a week school I will have two mornings I can work out and get into supermodel shape…if you can with two days a week workout.

Brightside #2 when it gets dark earlier, I get the kids to sleep sooner thereby leaving more time to read ( also known as watch DVR’d “House Hunter International”)

Brightside #3 Continuing the tradition of “Day Outs”.  When I was growing up my mom took each of us on our own day out with mom.  We bought our school clothes and then got to pick where we would go to eat for lunch.

“Anywhere you want!”  She would say.  Did I pick legendary restaurants of LA that are long shuttered?  Scandia, Chasen’s, Brown Derby?  No.

“Howard Johnsons!”

Last year was the first year I started it with Vivien.  It is magical being the mom in this equation as it was being the daughter.  I love our time together.  When we shop we discuss likes and dislikes, style and what is appropriate.  She is no longer at the age that I can dress her up like a paper doll, but is not giving me the sullen teen push back.  I know which colors she gravitates too.

But, since she is still a little kid I can’t wear her out and risk a meltdown mid “happy day”.  So I’m doing my research before we set out.  I know from my niece ( 10) the kids are still digging the Peace signs and graphic tees.  Denim is hot, check.  Sears Style helps you do your homework so you know what the kids are into.  I do prefer to go to a place I can pick up a few t- shirts for my stepson as well.  ( sidebar, there was the cutest yellow dress with white lace in the junior department that I wonder if my childbearing hips could fit into).  Sears also has a Sears Personal Shopper app this year for iPhone and Android’s (my phone) that I want to use.  Snap a picture of something you want for back to school and expert shoppers find it and contact you on where you can get it, even if it’s not at Sears.
I smell smart shopping.

This is one of three posts sponsored by Sears.  I was pleased to be asked to be a spokesperson for their back to school tween clothing.  Next post: favorites from the media tour.

What to wear back to school? Survey Results (sponsored)

What are the back to school items you want to skip?  Which ones are on your to do list?

If I was to fill out a survey on the topic I would say

1) One of  my back to school items is trying not to look like the frumpiest lady at drop off.

2) closed toed shoes for Vivien.  She can’t wear her favorite foot wear at her school, sandals, so I will be looking for closed toe shoes that are EASY TO PUT ON.  When we are trying to get out the door I can’t stand wrestling with the hard to slip on shoes.

3) good price.  Yes, I have seen $130 jeans for little kids.  I have also seen people bungee jump.  I plan on doing neither.  They grow out of their clothes so fast it’s koo-koo to spend that kind of money on kid clothes.

Well, speaking of surveys Sears and Blogher did a survey about parent’s shopping habits for this Back to School period. Here are some of the results

two-thirds of parents say they are inclined to spend more on apparel items like jeans, tops and shoes for this school year versus last year.

So, even in a downturn, kiddos still keep growing.  I am more likely to buy something for my kids than myself.

But according to the survey, parents are spending more on KEY items, but, they using newspaper ads, circulars and loyalty programs to track down the best deals. All those services that rhyme with boo pon, you know.

Okay, so what are the key items?  For my 10 year old niece it’s cool pants and graphic tee’s.  Preferably, with a peace sign.  For my 17 year old stepson, it’s tight legged blue jeans and plan t shirts.  For Vivien it’s anything in pink.  So, to make the purchase worthwhile… the maximize your time, here a few results of my own:

1) pick stuff they are really going to wear.  Yes, I would love it if I could still dress my niece up in fancy dresses, but it ain’t going to happen.

2) lay out a few rules.  there will be no midriff showing, a non starter. I’m fine with a peace sign, or Love or American flag, but nothing with a negative or snarky saying thanks.

I know I will soon be made irrelevant, but right now I still a little input.

3) don’t shop at a place that is not your food group.  Make sure it’s a store that has stuff you feel okay with.

4) Sears has a great Facebook application called, “Mom’s Amazing List”, which allows you to actually create your own shopping list and get suggestions based on your child’s gender and age.

5) Avoid the impulse.  I could buy my daughter cute, flowery dresses all day, but her closet is choking with them, so until she gets a little bigger, I can’t justify that purchase.

I should ) my own shopping better.

this is the first of three posts sponsored by Sears about Back to School shopping.  I am going to be doing some media appearances in support of their program.  I love me some Sears.

Getting my daughter to eat breakfast, & Blogher ’11 : Sponsored

Busy week.  Shot two days worth of Her Say ( check out at www.hersay.com). Body suddenly racked by grief on Tuesday ( see previous post). Leaving for super speedo getaway with family. Hard to find the time. When you buy a house the travel budget does dwindle. My kids are so excited for their trip. Vivien packed last night unaided.  This morning I found Vivien was ready to go and had put her stuff in my closet to let me know.

Fwd: Ready to go!

The day after we come back I am going to Blogher’11 in San Diego.  First time going.  I’m going in part so I can check out the activities at the Hillshire Farm booth.  I’ve been collaborating with them this month I’m going to interview their spokesperson, “Bridesmaid” star  Wendi McLendon-Covey.  She will be signing autographs and meeting people there.
I also want to check out the food styling workshop they are doing.  This would be of help to food bloggers and to wives of chef’s who try to take pictures of food with little success.  Who could that be? Mark has told me hilarious stories about what makes food look good in pictures, sometimes it’s car oil.  Seriously, yummy food and yummy photography are not the same thing.  Since I’m his wifeager I think I need more knowledge.
So, maybe I will see you there.
Okay, back to yummy food.  Here is a vid Vivien and  I did about how I get her to eat breakfast.  Yes, it is a win-win.
CLICK HERE to watch… in case you missed it.  Did I mention to click here, no not here, the other here.
Go to http://facebook.com/hillshirefarm for all their blogher info.

Yes, I am being paid a kings ransom to write about Hillshire Farms. It’s crazy money, I could have bought Candy Spelling’s place. Well, maybe some of her wrapping paper. But, I love smoked turkey.  I should have asked for smoked turkey.

Secret Motivation: Farmer’s Market, sponsored

Sure my kids would chomp on a chewy food that’s color is not found in nature, but I’m trying to get them excited…or at least sort of curious.. about foods that are good to them and to teach them how you incorporate these foods into a meal.
When Vivien was younger she was more open to things plucked from the ground. viv at 2
They love dad’s catering van.  We are pretty chic around here and the Campanile van is our “company car”  ( no sleek sedan for us!).  Our kids love playing  in the van, so I brought them to the restaurant as Mark was unloading his bounty from the day’s shopping. His first stop is Campanile, the second is Tar Pit. We caught up with him at camp.
Click to here to see the video…and You might learn a few things.. I know I did!
rex at campanile

Starting August 1st, when someone watches the featured video on the Hillshire Farm Facebook page, they will get to download a $.55 Off coupon for any Hillshire Farm product.  Then, if they post the offer on their Facebook Newsfeed or enter three friend’s email addresses, they will have the opportunity to upgrade to a larger coupon for $1 off.

This the second of four posts that are sponsored by Hillshire Farms.  Which basically means they ask me if I can write or do a vid on themes they are using in their marketing.  They are easy themes to connect with so I readily agreed.  I am going to receive some money for this.  Whoops, I forgot to also ask for sliced ham. I love sliced ham.

Getting a toddler to get his iron: Sponsored

getting them to eat cake is the easy part

Getting them to eat cake is the easy part

At Rex’s last check up the doctor said he was borderline anemic.  I panicked.  “Oh, my poor baby!”  She assuared me it was fairly normal, but gave me a list of iron rich foods to feed him.

Now, if your toddler is like mine it’s hard to get them to eat anything, except cookies.  He grazes, so the “let’s sit down for a full meal” only works at dinner time.  I don’t force him to eat as a rule, but I did–and do want him to get enough iron.

After chasing him around the house with a beef rib.  “come on, let’s play doggie.”

Failing at bribing, “if you eat this ham I will give you a cookie.”  ( Not sure why girls are easier to bribe with food than boys, but sorry equality folks, they are)

I ate a lot of meat myself while trying to get Rex to sit down and eat.  SIT DOWN AND EAT, SIT DOWN AND EAT!!!  ( yelling didn’t work either). As he started drawing one day I had a Eureka moment.

“Rex, Let’s paint !”  Yeah, he said with a smile.  “Where is my paper mommy?”

I put down the art supplies on the table and next to it the slices of ham, broccoli tops and a glass of orange juice ( vit. c helps the body absorb the iron).  As he drew I got little bits into his mouth. Not a ton, sometimes he refused them, but some.  He “finishes” a drawing pretty fast so I had to keep handing him paper and give him a motivation.

“Grandma needs a picture.  Aunt Cec needs a picture. The mailman needs a picture.” He couldn’t think for a minute I was feeding him.  The words “eat” must not pass my lips.

I don’t always have to resort to Food Art and sometimes I’m too pooped to try, but it’s in my bag of quills.

Share your own secret motivations at Hillshire Farms Facebook page and check out the funny ads Hillshire Farms is doing with Wendi McClendon-Covey , the scene stealing actress from “Bridesmaids”  ( the frustrated married one.  Her line about the Daily Show made me snort soda out of my nose).  I wish I look that cute in my own kitchen, alas, I don’t have the lighting.

This the first of four posts that are sponsored by Hillshire Farms.  Which basically means they ask me if I can write or do a vid on themes they are using in their marketing.  They are easy themes to connect with so I readily agreed.  I am going to receive some money for this.  Whoops, I forgot to also ask for sausage. I love sausage.

Pork Rut

Some of the sponsored vids that I have done here over the years hit home more than others. Fruit Roll ups have stopped MANY tantrums around here ( Gen Mills), I did always hope one vid would go viral ( Smart Water) and I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about dinner ( Ragu). Granted I always thought about food for myself and was never one of those people who met up at a restaurant when I was single and said, “no, that’s cool I ate.” If the chow was good I was having some. But, every year I am a mother I get deeper and deeper into this making dinner thing. Partly because the ages of my children increase and present different challenges and also because I want to challenge myself. Also, the chef husband is gone more and more, so I can’t fall back on that.
I can’t just feed them cake, though that would bring a smile to their faces.
let them eat cake

For a while now I’ve been doing very well with pork. All three kids will eat it. I can make a nice pork roast or pan fry chops. It pairs nicely with a vegi, like my 4 star brussel sprouts. But, if I don’t defrost it in time I’m screwed. Mark buys a huge hunk of pork and we cut it up and freeze hunks big enough for a dinner in separate plastic bags. I’m on my last hunk today and Mark said, “maybe I should buy something different. A beef roast perhaps?” I was nervous. I’ve gotten my pork thing down.
But, wait, that’s bad I thought. That shows I have to vary it. I’m also getting low on my other go to. Chicken drumsticks in my “Hawaiian sauce” Soy, teriyaki and random spices.
I ventured the other night to  potatoes with bacon and it fell flat. So, maybe I’m in a pork rut. I love the other white meat, but I need to do something like pork belly ravioli ( Mark made this at Tar Pit recently, delish), but that’s a lot of steps for me.

When we shot the Ragu spots a few months back  ( with other mom bloggers like Mindy Roberts and Kim Tracy Prince) I was in a good dinner zone. This is our “Moms the word” series on momversation, but really exists on Facebook and it’s an ongoing conversation.  Last night I clicked on one of my Ragu vids about “dinner inspiration” to get inspired. My memory is shot, so it’s all new to me.
I seemed pretty confident in my dinner zone.  But, that was pre rut.  I’m a little tweaked in that I seem to only be able to concentrate on one or two ingredients at a time.

Okay, I will do something different.  I will use three spices I haven’t used..or used much in my pork show.  I shoved the kids into the back yard at 4pm and put brussel sprouts ( my go to ) and broccoli in on dish with olive oil, water, salt, pepper and oregano. (new)  Put in oven.  Check.  Then salted the pork roast with kosher salt, pepper, sumach( rarely use) , whole cumin (never use).  Put in ceramic baking dish with small white potatoes and a can of beef broth( usually use chicken) and a little apple cider vinegar ( new) and 4 cloves of chopped garlic and some chopped oven.  425 for and hour.   Then ran out in the back and played with my kids before my mom came over for dinner.  The best is doing it a little ahead.  I don’t like rushing to dinner because then I’m more of a rag and not enjoying myself.  Coming in muddy with some wet near naked kids and room temperature food ( I did take it out of the oven at one point) is so much better.

Oh, I over salted the pork, Vivien didn’t like the vinegar taste of the potatoes and Rex ate 4 bites and then tried to rip up my blouse.

Everything had been going so well…

What are cooking these days?  To share and get ideas check out the conversation on the Mom’s the Word Ragu page.

Sponsored: Is Your Dinner Table Online or Offline?

Sure, we can all say no TV during dinner. Or mom and dad can never check their phone at the table, but seriously?

How do you handle the intersection of technology and meal time?  Is it necessarily bad to include some with your food?

Mindy Roberts (who looks so cute in this vid) and Caroline Murphy join in the discussion.

To add your comments go to www.facebook.com/ragusauce.

*This video was created in connection with my appointment as an Ambassador in Ragú® Mom’s the Word on Dinner Program.