Meggans a - Meggans guide to a brighter life

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WIN A $50.00 Gift Card And Go Back To School With Safeway

Safeway JPEG

I am not a summer person.  I can do without the heat, pastel colors, and all around general sunniness.  UGH!  Give me a black turtleneck, dark black sunglasses, and a good rainy day and I am in heaven.  Summer to me is nothing more than a really hot winter.  That is why when late August hits and the fall dislplays come out in stores it means only one thing, summer is coming to a close.  I was shopping with my stepsons today and I hugged a fall display in the store.  I am not kidding, it was like breathing after holding my breath for three long and hot months.  I walked up to the aisle and just laid my body up against it with my arms spread out like an eagle about to take flight.

Me:  “Oh thank God!  Fall displays.  Fall is coming!”

Harrison:  “You need to stop, I know people here.”

Me:  “I can’t help it, I am so excited to see all this.”

Harrison:  “You are embarrassing me.  What if someone sees me and I have to tell them I am in a grocery store on a Friday night with my little brother while my Stepmom is hugging merchandise.”

Me:  “Point made.” 

Fall merchandise not only means the end of the devil months, but also a very exciting thing for parents.  BACK TO SCHOOL!  The light at the end of the summer tunnel.  I went into yet another Safeway, that was new to me, to see how it was stocked for the upcoming first day of school.  I am pleased to report that Safeway has everything you need to send your little ones, or not so little ones, off to school. 

Right in the middle of the store next to the registers there were ample notebooks, paper, binders, all sorts of different school supplies for kids of all ages. There was also a big bin of beautiful books at GREAT prices. They were kids books, hardback Italian cooking books, and a variety of beautiful coffee table books that would make a great present or addition to anyone’s home.  This Safeway also has a nice selection of lunch boxes and coolers for back to school and plenty of items discounted to fill those lunch boxes up, items like string cheese.


Click above for more information on Safeway's escrip program for schools

Safeway also has a WONDERFUL program that donates money back to a school of your choice.   It is through Safeway’s escrip program.  You will need a Safeway Club Card.  Once you have the card register your information at and pick a school, or register your school, and 10% of the price of selected items will go directly to the school.   The items include staples like peanut butter, juice, and mac & cheese, even toiletries.  Look for the label on products like the one above.  There is also an extensive product list at

This Safeway was very similar to the others I had visited, which I like.  The stores are very consistent with each other.  They are clean, well lit, well labeled, and carry a tremendous amount of products at affordable prices.  As busy moms we need to carve out time where we can and I hate lugging my toddler in and out of stores. I like to one stop shop.

Once again, well done Safeway.   Grab the kids, head to Safeway, and save as you go back to school.



CONGRATULATIONS TO LAURA O. of Hillsboro,Oregon.  Our $50.00 Safeway card winner.

*I received a Safeway gift card for this post, however the views and opinions expressed here are my own.  Safeway has also provided the $50.00 gift card to be given away to readers.

From The Heart


My Ettore love "tattoo" courtesy of Magic Mountain

Click above for more information on the movie Julie and Julia











My heart is racing.  I just saw the movie Julie and Julia.  It was great.  An unconventional love story.  A story of the love of life, love of food, and love between husband and wife.

I wouldn’t be the introspective Mommy blogger I am if I didn’t admit I saw bits of my own story in both Julie and Julia.  Thankfully I didn’t identify too much with the lost, unfulfilled, under-employeed, whiny, and mental meandering of thirty year old Julie.  That was so six years ago for me.

I am more of the lost, unfilled, under-employeed, whiny, and mentally meandering of thirty-six year old Julia Child,  as we meet her in the film.

Yes and no actually.  I have come to accept that there will always be a part of me that is searching (and  underemployeed)  except to be honest I feel a lot less lost now. I am not talking driving though, forever confused and U-turning I will be.  Not meaning to I found my meaning and direction within my blended family.  I followed my heart.

I have a Swiss husband who is twenty years older than me and has no idea what I am talking about half the time.  Ettore says things like “cheap goat” for “cheap skate” and he always uses woman as a plural.  For instance, “woman like shopping.”  I don’t poke fun because it is adorable and I don’t speak German.  Plus it makes me fall in love with him all over again.   My stepsons are fantastic and I get to be a part of all the fun of being a teenager again.  Most of which I missed out on, but I get to be a positive adult in their lives.  Finally my baby boy completes the circle.  Who knew that one little smile could change my whole feelings about life…for the better.

We are not conventional, but we are real.  We make mistakes and we try to correct them.  We hurt and we try to mend.   We take for granted and then we learn to appreciate.  There are some that criticize us/me for being a blended family and for “stepping” in.   It used to really bother me, mostly my own feelings of guilt.  Not anymore.  Like Julie and Julia I followed my heart, found my calling and my love, and TOGETHER as a family we created something delicious….and I didn’t have to cook!


What? I Can’t Hear You…

It has been a few days since I posted and I must apologize, seems we have ALL come down with some sort of illness and all movement at my house came to an abrupt stop with the exception of hands going towards Kleenex boxes.  I was on point taking care of everyone when I was struck down.  No good.  It has been MISERABLE in the House of Ick!  It was all very snotty, drainy, and dramatic with yours truly ending up in the ER last night at 2:00 a.m. with a raging ear infection.  With the exception of a few self induced cruel tequilla hangovers in my early 20′s I had never had so much pain in my head.  I honestly thought I might be having a stroke.  36 and a victim of a stroke…maybe I could get on Oprah after all.  Sick I know, but it always goes back to Oprah.

An Oprah show appearance will have to wait, it was not a stroke, just a crushing ear infection.  I think my ear drum burst, because I was fine and then a tearing sound and extreme ear pain.  I thought to myself that I must of pissed some one off.  It was/is still soooo painful.  Was Jesus mad that I called the tomato a slut?  I meant it in the most endearing way.   Just trying to get people to be interested in reading about produce eating vegetables.  Don’t hate…appreciate.

Numbing ear drops, antibiotics, and some pain killers later (which I HATE to take) I am on the mend.  Just in time for flu season….

P.S. Jesus if you are reading this, my next video is on the onion and there is nothing sluttly about the onion. I will keep it “G.”

The Lovely Tomato


Some say toe-may-toe some say toe-ma-toe, but however you say it the tomato rocks.  The tomato is so diverse it can’t be put into any one category.

The tomato is like a woman…complicated and diverse.  Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?  Like a woman a tomato retains an air of mystery and keeps you guessing.

Like a hard working Mama the tomato is everywhere and doing three things at one.  You’ll find tomatoes in pastas, salads, sandwiches, appetizers and the list goes on and on and on.

Like a lady the tomato needs a quiet place to grow, some sun and nurturing to flourish, but treat her wrong and she will go sour on you right quick!

Ok, down to biz-ness.

Cutting A Tomato

When using a cutting board you will want to prevent the cutting board from slipping.  A chef trick is to place a wet towel under the board.

The type of knife is important when cutting a tomato and you always want to use a SHARP knife.  You can use a serrated knife (my novice personal preference), like the knife used to cut bread.  Ettore recommends using a chef knife, which is a general utility knife derived from a butcher’s knife. Generally chef knifes are all purpose knifes that are approximately 8″ in length and 1 1/2″ in width.

A standard chef knife

To begin, hold the tomato upright and slice through the tomato and the stem.

Next cut a small V in the top of the tomato and remove stem.  Before making this video I used to just whack off the top of the tomato to remove the stem. It wasted so much of the tomato.  The V technique is much better than my barbaric heavy tomato cutting hand.

Using your knuckles as a guide, slice the tomato length wise.  To further dice tomato, after slicing give the tomato a 1/2 turn and slice again.

Caprese Salad

  • This is one of the most delicious, quick, and easy to make summer salads.  You will want to use unrefrigerated vine ripened or heirloom tomatoes.  This recipe serves 4-6.
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 2 fresh mozzarella cheese balls
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • salt, pepper,
  • 3 tbl. olive oil

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into thick 1/4″ slices and alternately arrange on a plate.   Chop basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over tomatoes and mozzarella.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil over tomatoes and mozzarella. Serve immediately.

Happy Eating!



floor 013Some of the things Lucas does are precious (smiling, laughing, hugs). Some of the things Lucas does are semi-precious (taking off his diaper and throwing it, taking apart Mommy’s wallet, hiding the keys), and some of the things Lucas does are down right cubic zirconia (hitting, biting, throwing food on the floor).  

This picture however is totally precious.  The stuffed lion is from Ettore and Lucas LOVES it.  I like to look at this picture in the middle of the night (like right now) to remind myself that Lucas really does sleep.

The picture is a little fuzzy.  Sorry.  Ten years after the digital revolution I am still trying to figure it all out and yearning for my instamatic.  Not so precious.

So Long Mr. Meggan



Meggan Ravazzolo Photo











It’s no secret to Moms that after you have kids the personal grooming takes a back seat…in the trunk.  The days of mani/pedis, three hour hair appointments, and professional facials are a distant and faint memory.  My hair is now colored from a box, the place that cuts my hair also cuts my baby’s hair all for under $20.00 (and I have my son sitting in my lap for BOTH our hair cuts),  and a facial consists of grinding up and mixing with yogurt whatever fruit we have left over from breakfast and smearing it on my face.

I didn’t know how far I had let it all slip though until I went in for a mani-pedi with my husband while on vacation.  We had childcare and decided to treat ourselves to a little pampering at the local Vietnamese Walk-in Beautiful Nail Salon.

One thing you have to realize about Vietnamese nail salons is that they are very direct…always.  No time for foolery when beautifaction and money making is in progress. “You pick color” and then you sit your ass down.

While “Susan” was filing and trimming away on my beat up dish pan hands working her $11.00 manicure magic I noticed her looking directly at me, but through me at the same time. I smiled back. That’s when Susan asked…

“Do you want me to help you look pretty?”

Normally for me to look pretty the person I am with has to start drinking.  Curious if she was going to start serving herself Cosmos I replied, “what do you have in mind?”

“I do waxing.”

“Oh, do I need to get my upper lip waxed.?”

“No, you need wax your WHOLE FACE.”

WTF!!  MY WHOLE FACE!! What was I, a werewoman?  I burst out laughing.  I had never even heard of a whole face wax. Probably why I was so fuzzy.  After a few more assurances from Susan that I really was a hairy beast, I was in.  As my husband blissfully snoozed away in the pedicure chair, Susan lead me away to her waxing chamber.

While Susan’s daughter sat next to me in the back waxing room reading a book about robotic cats (no joke) Susan waxed and waxed and waxed my face.  Each time she would yank a strip of wax off my face the size of a paper towel she would proudly show me the strip and announce,

“see I no lie, you have a lot of hair…I help you look pretty.”

OK, I get it. I get it.  I am a weremommy. My neighbors should stay away from me on full moons and if they have chickens keep them inside.  Susan left no hair on my face except two thin strips of eyebrows.  I was smooth like a sheared lamb from the top of my eyebrows to my collar bone….and my face was fire red and glistening from the cooling lotion.

I looked like a shiny vine ripe tomato that had been covered in aloe gel.

I emerged from the waxing room and met my husband by the front door to pay.   When he saw me he had the strangest look of confusion on his face.

What just happened?  When he last saw me he was in the pedicure chair getting his nails filed and feet massaged by two beautiful Vietnamese woman.   He fell asleep only to wake up alone to a wife that now looked like produce.

“She waxed my face,” was all I could mutter.

My husband, long accustomed to my adventures, paid the bill, tipped Susan and as we were leaving politely said,

“Thank you for getting rid of her beard.”

I would of burst out laughing again, except I couldn’t move my hairless face.

UPDATE:  Hairy face has left the building.  Tomato face has healed.  Say hello to baby butt smooth face.  I love it. 

NOTE:  Photo on the left is from the film The Wolf Man circa 1941

Even Stepmoms Think You Should Wear Sunscreen


A little reminder I left taped to the bathroom mirror for my stepson Reilly when he attended dirtbike camp this summer. 

The child did not want to wear sunscreen.

He was twelve and he wanted a tan.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I shunned the sunscreen as well in the foolish and smooth skinned days of my youth.  I remember laying out in the backyard of my friend Heather’s house with nothing on but Def Leopard, a bikini, baby oil and reflecting pieces of tin foil.  If you had a slice of tomato and piece of lettuce you could of substituted me for cooked bacon and I would of made a wonderful BLT.

That was 1989.  In 2009 I sit here looking down at my sun damaged decolletage and think that my puckered skin would make a lovely pair of leather boots or in the right hands a nice handbag.  I tired to explain to both my stepsons that sunburns are damaging and so 8o’s, but as I look at my stepson’s neon shirts, all the classic Ray Ban sun glasses the kids are wearing, and the fact that my stepsons think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the coolest movie ever made (which I introduced them to) I realize the 80′s are in…again. 

Hella cool.  Dust off my leg warmers S.T.A.T.

What’s a Stepmom to do?  Preach “do as I say, not as I tanned?”

We are visiting the beach and the boys have been frequenting the ocean.  They come home each day and proudly display their red and tender skin.

“No sunscreen…that’s how we roll,” the boys proclaim.

Not on my watch!  That’s when I break out the aerosol spray aloe and 50 s.p.f. sunscreen and literally chase the boys around the house spraying sunscreen at their bodies as they dodge me and I screech out like every bit the crazed Stepmom I am…

“wear sunscreen, you’ll thank me when you are forty…wear sunscreen, you’ll thank me when you are forty.”

I don’t think I am having much affect on the boys choice to wear sunscreen and their ability to still get a tan.  I keep on trying though, even if  does remind me of growing up in the 80′s.

HOWEVER,  if Harrison comes home with a bad perm and Reilly bleaches Billy Idol into his jeans our days of blast from the 80′s past might be numbered. Once was enough.

Win a $50.00 Gift Card from Safeway

Safeway JPEG

That’s right! Win a $50.00 gift card from Safeway.  Here at we came to play! All you have to do is read this post about my recent shopping experience at Safeway and leave a comment at the end.  I will be randomly selecting a winner, so make sure you include you current email address so I can contact you to send you your $50.00 gift card.

Happy shopping (and saving) at Safeway…

I feel like I just robbed Safeway for $27.00 at the checkout.  That is the amount of money I saved with Safeway’s Club prices combined with their new additional everyday low price program while purchasing items for the family vacation.  The Ravazzolos are hitting the highway and that meant stocking up on a variety of wine household staples from bread and produce to paper products for filling the fridge and cabinets at our destination.  There will be a total of four boys on this trip ranging in ages from 18 months to 16-years-old.  The same four boys that I brought with me to the grocery store.


YES, myself and four boys descended into the well lit and labeled aisles of Safeway.    We were either going to sink or swim or die shop trying.

I started by rallying my troops with a few ground rules.

1.  There will be NO B’s and by that I begging for candy, no bargaining with me for candy, and no secretly buying candy behind my back.

2.  Eyes shall remain focused for the YELLOW tags…that is where the greatest amount of savings are.

3.  Finally, no soldier shall wander off from the cart for longer than three minutes.  With an army of four boys to keep track of, I had no time (or patience) for search and rescue missions in the magazine or soda aisles.  A platoon that shops together, stays together.

That being said…we entered Safeway.  I chose a different Safeway than the one I usually go to.  I wanted to see the store with new eyes.  Right away I noticed how well the aisles are LABELED with signage above the aisle with large enough print I can actually read.  That alone was a gift from the Safeway Gods.  No more wandering around from aisle to aisle squinting asking myself, “does that sign say pet food or baby food?”  That alone saves time.  Well done.

In order to preserve the peace within the ranks I immediately gave the two 12-year-old boys, Reilly and Kyle, a job.   Their job was produce.  A tall order.  I told each of the boys very specific produce to get.  Reilly was to secure two red bell peppers, Kyle an English Cucumber.  Upon successful completion of their first mission I sent the boys back out.  Reilly was to get six vine ripe tomatoes, Kyle six ears of corn.  This went on several times.  Each time the boys returned to the cart with the produce they selected ON THEIR OWN and it was wonderful.  I was really proud of them and very pleased that Safeway carried such fresh and beautiful produce.  Again, a time saver.

While the boys were busy with the produce, Harrison, the baby Lucas, and myself went right into the trenches.  I was pleased that there were so many price saving yellow tags on items we needed: paper towels, detergent, yogurt, meat, mayo for sandwiches, Haagen Daz ice cream…and yes Haagen Daz is a NECESSITY when you vacation with four boys.  Safeway doesn’t sell Valium over the counter so Haagen Daz was going to have to do the trick.

All in all we stocked up for the house we are renting near the ocean.  The shopping trip was going very smoothly, but as our little brigade lumbered toward the checkout I began to get the “mom nerves.”  I was dreading the thought of there being some terribly long line and having to control the kid chaos while attempting to check out.  Again, it was all well under control.  The second the checkout lines got a little long, a new line was opened immediately.  Checkout was really a snap, which EVERYONE appreciated. My boys didn’t get irritated with the wait and we were able to get in and out quickly.  I was even offered help out to the car and was thanked by name.  I have to say I was impressed with the cleanliness and customer service of Safeway, the ease in which the stores can be navigated, and the savings we had shopping at Safeway.

The best part of the shopping experience though was saving almost $27.00(!!)  at checkout from the Club Savings and the new everyday low price program.  It really added up!  The boys ooohhhed and aaahed at the savings like I had taken them to a casino in Vegas and the quarter slots just coughed up 675 quarters. They immediately wanted to know if they could have some of the “Safeway” money for video games and to rent a movie and you know what I said?


We all win when we work together as a family, budget and shop together as a family, and save money together as a family.  I did put a little aside for me as well…did I mention the beautiful wines Safeway is now carrying?  Happy shopping and saving at Safeway.


*I received a Safeway gift card for this post, however the views and opinions expressed here are my own.  Safeway has also provided the $50.00 gift card to be given away to readers.

*To enter to win the $50.00 Safeway gift card please leave a comment by clicking on the small orange box below.  Be sure to include your correct email address*

*Congratulations to Jacqueline N. of Sacramento, our Safeway gift card winner. Next chance to win coming soon.

Mama Love

Cereal on the go

Mama Loves


Click above for more information on the EZ-Freeze Cereal on the Go










Just came across this portable cereal container at a Vons in Southern California and I LOVE IT.  It is called the EZ-Freeze Cereal on the Go. Have I been living under a rock?  Where has this portable gem been hiding all my life?

This thing is amazing.

Perfect for back to school, or the office, or anywhere.

How it works.  The container has two parts.  The bottom container has a layer of freezer gel coating that, when frozen, keeps milk or yogurt or really any product cold for up to four hours.   The top portion is a dry storage compartment for carrying cereal, granola etc.  The lid comes with a portable spoon that attaches to the top.  All three screw together to make a great portable breakfast carrier to go for the kidlets or yourself.

I knew the product was a winner when I brought the EZ freeze container home and both my stepsons and their friend Kyle gave it an announcement of  ”cool.”

I give it twenty minutes before the container goes missing courtesy of the thieving hands of my stepsons and ends up in someone’s backpack for school.  That’s when you know you have a winner…when the kids steal your stuff.

The EZ-freeze products are available online and major retailers including select Vons in Southern California or Safeway in Northern California.


*I did not receive a product sample or compensation for this post.  The views expressed here are my own.

I Need To Apologize To My Spine

Six Flags Single

After riding The Colossus...a colossal need for a chiropractor

Six Flags Group

The six of us: The kids, Tweety Bird, me...and my bra strap and sunburn

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.  Take my stepsons, Harrison, Reilly, and Reilly’s friend Kyle, to Six Flags at Magic Mountain and ride the roller coasters with them.  I used to be quite the little roller coaster bad ass and I figured I could bond with the boys while traveling 100 m.p.h. in 3 seconds while strapped into a steel cage. 

Never was I so wrong!  It was horrifying, terrifying, body jarring madness.  Plus, if I wanted to hear screaming and randomly smell puke all day I could of stayed home.

The rides at the park had names like The Vortex, Batman, The Riddler’s Revenge, Tatsu.

Those rides should of been called:

The Spine Eater

The Pre-Mature Ager from Intense Fear

The Ass Clencher a.k.a. The Constipator

The You Are No Longer 21

The Bitch You Are Crazy and Too Old To Be On This Ride, Sit Your Ass Down With A Nice Book And Quit Torturing Yourself (I rode that one twice)

The boys on the other hand LOVED it.  They were determined to ride the rides for twelve hours (from open to close) and that is exactly what they did.  They were unphased through intense heat, hair ruining rides that soaked us in water from head to toe, rides that defied sanity and gravity.  When Kyle got nauseous and threw up after Batman and Reilly blacked out after Golliath the boys literally took a five minute break to “shake it off” only to get back on those roller coaster horses and ride again.

Meanwhile my ankles swelled (see photo above), my skin crisped in the sun, my bra straps gave up the valiant fight of maintaining dignity, and my body begged to not travel at speeds over 55 m.p.h. along rails of track.

In the end though, we did bond.  There were super yummy iced lemonades and churros, we all got fake tattoos, took turns on the Oxygen Bar and decided we got ripped off by flavored air and the next day we still can’t stop talking about our trip.

Next time we go to a theme park though, it is my turn to pick…here we come…Nap World.

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