#JammieTime: Merry Christmas from the Holderness Family!

For the last 11 months, every song we heard on the radio — we tried to morph into some weird family holiday parody. Nothing worked. Then, while on a Thanksgiving morning run, Penn looked at me and said, “I think I’ve got it.”

Our year was fast, crazy, and overwhelmingly happy. This song and video perfectly describes how this year felt.

This time last year, we had very little savings but huge ideas about growing a company (Greenroom Communications) that would produce funny, relatable videos for companies and brands. Penn gave notice at his cushy news anchor job (a job with benefits!) and we took the leap. I’m so glad we did.

People may not realize that most of the work we do is behind the camera creating campaigns for boundary-pushing companies. We have a growing team of creative ninjas we are blessed to work with.

And now this team is going to be the subject of a reality show. Yep. Check out www.UPTV.com for the announcement.

Thank you for following our crazy journey. We’re so glad you’re here.

 

 

Talk to Santa AND donate to St. Jude!

I’ll be honest – trips to see Santa at the mall have never worked for our family. The lines are long, the pictures are pricey, and one of our kids always freaks out. Evidence below:

 

You better not shout.

So this year we got a chance to talk to THE Santa Claus using www.HelloSanta.com. It’s a live video call with the guy in red. Somehow he knew all the dirt on the kids: Penn Charles needs to work on bathroom habits and Lola needs to work on her handwriting. They sang Christmas songs and the kids got to ask Santa all sorts of questions. (We’ve edited the call length because I think only my mom would want to watch the whole thing. It was definitely A LOT longer than they’ve chatted with Santa in the past).

Here’s the best part: The folks at HelloSanta.com are donating half the price of the call ($10.00) to St. Jude’s for every video call booked using the PROMO code “Holderness”.

Take a look at bits of our call. Let us know about your HelloSanta.com experience!

The skinny on The Chew (and a recipe)

Earlier this week we were part of a “Thanksgiving Family Face-Off” on ABC’s The Chew. I told our kids, “this is a pretend competition.” It’s not like a race you run and have a definitive winner, or a spelling bee when there is a clear RIGHT or WRONG.  A cooking competition is entirely subjective based on the particular taste of the judges, in this case five audience members.

I had to keep reminding my kids of this because, like most kids I think, they aren’t great at NOT winning. I feared a tearful scream from my little guy if the trophy went to the other family. I even promised hot chocolate if we didn’t win. Bribery! That always works, eh?

The hosts and producers of The Chew were lovely, and the family we “competed” against is adorable. (They are perhaps the most photogenic family I’ve ever met). They were making a gorgeous macaroni and cheese dish with FIVE cheeses. FIVE?! I can’t compete with FIVE cheeses!

I made my Aunt Ellen’s famous (famous in our family, at least) sweet potato casserole.   We even practiced the recipe the night before we left for NYC to make sure I didn’t miss a step on television.

In the end, three out of five of the audience tasters preferred this recipe. (Our children were a little upset they wouldn’t get hot chocolate).

*FULL DISCLOSURE: Our children preferred the other family’s macaroni and cheese. I will try to track that down!

Here’s our recipe:

Sweet Potato casserole…unleaded.  Add bourbon to topping mix to make leaded!
INGREDIENTS:
4 cups sweet potatoes
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk whole milk…really!
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract x 2 once for the sweet potatoes and once for the topping!
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
 *note from Kim (I have a sweet tooth so I double this topping mixture)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Pierce sweet potatoes with knife and place on a foil covered cookie sheet.  You may need to rotate potatoes if not using a convection oven.  Put sweet on foil covered rack to cool.  (I usually do this a day before!). This should take 40 – 50 minutes…just check on them by sticking a butter knife in them.  Should glide right through.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter ( room temperature), milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.  I really mean they looked whipped…fluffy ( Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish.
3. In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour and vanilla.  Yum!  Cut in the butter with pastry cutter) until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture. It really clumps but don’t worry!  It melts together!
4. Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

All about that basTE: a true story

from Penn:
This has been such an amazing year for me.  After nearly two decades of working in TV news,  and not getting home until the kids’ bedtime, I discovered something I honestly haven’t ever been a part of….
The nightly family dinner.
I mean, we had dinners together on weekends and vacation, but there is something so special about doing it every night.  The conversations just pick up where they left off the night before, they get more funny, more meaningful, more EVERYTHING.
Plus, I get to cook again!  I love cooking. It’s always an adventure.  I never follow the recipe. I always add something that either makes it amazing, or a total disaster.  I can’t help myself.
Kim is cool with it either way, or at least she’s sweet enough to pretend to be.  We always find a way to eat enough, and laugh enough, and go to sleep, and do it again.
Except for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving, there is no I in TEAM.  Wait, actually, there is, because there’s an I in KIM.  She’s plenty patient with me during the week cooking for amateurs (my kids), but for that one day of the week, I have to get the hell out of the kitchen (and the Dining Room at that… Apparently my table-setting abilities are woefully inadequate).
Thanksgiving is Kim’s Super Bowl.  She is up at 4 AM.  She has an intricate schedule to make sure everything makes it in the oven, and all 9 of her dishes are ready, somehow, at the exact same time.  So if I saunter in with a goofy smile and say something like “Hey babe I’m gone just go ahead and make the stuffing”, her head spins around like Linda Blair, and I back out quietly.
So basically, on Turkey Day, I have the following responsibilities:
Make sure the kids don’t get in her way (unless she wants them to)
Entertain the guests (which I do by turning on the NFL)
Baste the Turkey

That’s right! I do get to go in the kitchen every 30 minutes.  She straps a timer around my neck and when it goes off, I take the turkey out as quickly as possible, and douse it with butter.  I get this responsibility because A) Our oven is a perpetual smoke factory, and B) Our Turkey weighs about 659 pounds and you cant slide it out of the oven or the grill will tip over.  You have to work the baster into the oven like you are playing Operation and try not to burn your hands off (which I do anyway)

I AM NOT COMPLAINING.  Kim does a phenomenal job every year, and I’m lucky to be in the same zip code as her on Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the video, and tell us some of your Thanksgiving stories – comment below!

 

 

Down came the plates: Confessions from a multi-tasking flunkie

Is it just me? When I wake up in the morning, I immediately start this wonky plate-spinning circus act. Remember, before the gymnasts that balance their entire body weight on one finger became vogue in the circus world — it was just fun to watch that guy spin a dozen plates on thin sticks racing to make sure each one stayed perfectly balanced.  But one missed step, one plate goes too long without attention, and they all come crashing down.

We all have so many THINGS to worry about and STUFF to do. Things and stuff rule my life. Well, this is a story about how THINGS got all messed up when I let too much STUFF get in the way:

I was already on red-alert for recent multi-tasking failures. Our children’s Halloween performance (the one they’d been practicing for the entire month of October) was at 10:00am on the 31st. I showed up at 11:30 with video camera in hand. I wrote it down wrong. I didn’t read one of the 20 emails with the correct time. So there was me: camera charged and confused. And there were my kids, both tearful because the performance I promised I would be there for — I missed. For no other reason than I had a busy day at work and I entered the wrong time in my calendar. My heart is still broken remembering their disappointed tearful faces saying, “Mommy, you missed it.” Mommy guilt is a bitch.

I vowed to become the Calendar Queen. Yep, that’s me! No more missed performances! I and going to keep all the THINGS and STUFF organized.

Then, just yesterday, the plates I had spinning started to wobble. I was up early, as usual, to pack lunches, snacks, sign homework sheets, send a few work emails, try to convince a 4 year old to brush his teeth, and the other 97 things one does in the morning. Lola’s cheeks were flushed, she had a fever and needed to stay home.

I juggled my work schedule to be able to manage tasks from my kitchen table while keeping an eye on my baby girl. I then made a quick dash to Target for some ibuprofen. People were looking at me. “That’s weird,” I thought. It crossed my mind, “Well, maybe they recognized me from our silly videos. I wish I had worn makeup. Wow… why are all these people staring?”

I got home and Lola started giggling.

Nope, the people at Target didn’t recognize me from YouTube. This is what they were staring at:

Those pockets? Those are supposed to be in the back. And that tag? Supposed to be on the inside. My pants were on backwards and my shirt was on inside-out.  Well, I hadn’t missed anything technically — so those plates, though wobbling,  kept on spinning.

I monitored Lola, participated in conference calls, wrote scripts for clients, checked on Lola, checked email, sent email, wrote a proposal,  and heck, I even made a service appointment to check out that “thud, thud, thud” sound I hear when I drive my car. PLATES! SPINNING! THINGS! STUFF! I WAS DOING IT ALL!

At the end of the day I started packing for our trip to Florida (HSN is crazy enough for letting us appear on live television on November 7th). We were supposed to be flying in today. Right now. Well, here’s where the plates came crashing down.

I went to check in online, I saw our reservation and thought, “That’s weird Delta doesn’t have record of a trip to Florida. Why are they asking me to check-in for a flight to New York? THEY must have something wrong.”

DELTAOOPS

The plates started to really wobble. I started sweating. A frantic phone call to the Delta revealed I had, indeed, booked FOUR tickets for our family to New York City. I booked tickets to the WRONG STATE. FOUR of them. Wha? Why? NO! NO! I had THINGS to do and STUFF happening. We all needed to be in Florida early the next morning. Instantly, dinner started to burn triggering the smoke detector, Penn Charles was screaming for me to wipe his butt, and Lola started crying thinking we weren’t going to be able to make the trip.

That crashing sound you hear? That’s the sound of all my plates hitting the ground.

Penn, my darling husband poured me a (large) glass of wine. I started emotionally sweeping up the mess of all that dishware that tumbled to the floor. For a hefty fee, we are re-booked to the correct city. I’m embarrassed but world keeps spinning.  We will arrive just in time for our HSN pre-production meetings.

No one is hurt by my multi-tasking mishap.  So I’m going to give myself a break just one more time.

Everything is going to be fine. Well, except for my car. That “thud, thud, thud” sound I was hearing apparently will NOT wait for my scheduled appointment next week. After being towed to the repair shop,  I’m writing this from the waiting room.

IMG_3938

Here’s to more things and more stuff!

How do you guys keep the plates from crashing to the ground? And don’t say wine. Because I’m doing that and it’s not working.  I’ll take any hints and help I can get.