McKinney Mommas: 2012 Google+

Monday, December 31, 2012

Oyster Virgins, Oyster Veterans "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Tasting Party

Our first annual "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Tasting Party, was a blast all around!

I was surprised to find out that most of our party goers were "newbies" to the oyster scene.  Some had never tried the delightful mollusk, while others had tried once and not enjoyed the experience for one reason or another.

We decided to cook a few for the newbies and of course try others in their natural state....RAW!

Since we live in Texas, there's not a huge selection of oysters available at the grocery store. Not to worry, many oyster companies will ship their sweet babies right to your door.

Island Creek Oysters, based in Duxbury, Mass is a sustainable oyster farm operating in the "backyard" of Duxbury Bay. What started as a hobby for Skip Bennett, planting his first oysters in 1992, has grown into one of the largest oyster companies in the US, selling over 100,000 oysters a week!

 Island Creek Oysters - simply gorgeous!

If you live in Boston, you can check out their oysters first hand at the Island Creek Oyster Bar.  What's better, is that you can feel good about eating there, because they're a company that "does good." 

How? Well, they created the Island Creek Oyster Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps fund aquaculture programs around the world. Their vision is to create a world where all people have access to nutritious and sustainable protein sources in even the poorest communities.

Get more info at:

Kachemak Bay Oysters shipped right to my door
Our second batch of oysters were flown in straight from the frigid waters of Alaska! These Kachemak Bay Oysters arrived smelling fresh from the ocean (no, not fishy...just clean and ocean fresh!)

Grown in a suspended culture, the Kachemak Shellfish Growers cast lantern nets into the waters of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula where the oysters feed on plankton and are sheltered from the harmful sun, mud and sand - which result in a quite uniform oyster, perfect for serving on the half shell.

Harbor Island Signature Oyster Knife

Of course, you can't have an oyster party without the proper tools, now can you?  Harbor Island Oyster Co. provided us with a gorgeous engraved Harbor Island Signature Oyster Knife  for the birthday boy and one to give away as a prize at the party. 

This is a perfect gift for any seafood lover in your life, you can get it engraved with initials or a saying, like we did "Texas Xmas '12." 

Harbor Island Party Shuckers

They also gave us a handful of Oyster Roast Party Shuckers and Oyster Gloves for the newbies in the group. I liked that these knives weren't as sharp as the Signature Oyster Knife.  This way, you don't have to stress about that friend who had one too many libations, shucking their hand instead of the oyster

Ted's Rocky Fellas

Can you smell the garlic in the air? We had some non-raw loving guests, so found a fantastic recipe for a version of Oysters Rockefeller from Future Seafoods, called Ted's Rocky Fellas.

They were a total hit, served with crusty french bread.  The gooey Fontina and Monterey Jack cheese sauce with crisp bites of bacon were a great accompaniment to the briny oyster. 

Happy guests!

All of our guests, enjoyed both raw and cooked oysters. We even got the "raw-haters" to sample and enjoy the oysters in their naked state. We did however, start them off easy with the cooked oysters and slowly (after a few sips of champagne) introduce the raw oysters.

Some of the spread. Mmm...delicious.

Honestly, these Alaskan oysters were some of the most clean, and fresh tasting oysters I've had to date. I've been to numerous Oyster Festivals and even the renowned Union Oyster House and their taste is unmatched.

The Kachemak Bay Oysters  were a perfect "starter oyster" for guests who had to muster up the courage to try raw oysters for the first time, as they were mild (not boring, mind you), and had a sweet cantaloupe like flavor. 

I made a super easy, but quite tasty mignonette sauce (a traditional vinegar and shallot topping for oysters) that everyone seemed to enjoy on their raw oysters. Mixed up my own cocktail sauce too!

A number of people asked what was in my cocktail sauce, as they thought it was "perfect." All I'll tell you is that it only has three ingredients. It's all about the ratio, folks!

Alaskan Kachemak Bay Oysters

Look at those beautiful bivalves! I enjoyed them best with a squeeze of lemon and a dab of the mignonette sauce. 

Island Creek Oysters - Duxbury, MA

The Island Creek Oyster, was much smaller in size and had a savory, almost buttery taste with a lovely earthy or mossy final note. Also a great choice for those beginning their adventure into the oyster world! 

Trivia Winners being silly!

I had some fun trivia questions chosen, prior to the party, so we had a healthy little trivia competition. 
  • How many oyster varieties are there?
Answer: Over 100
  • Are oysters male or female?
Answer: Both! Oysters change their sex at least once during their lifetime.
  • How can you tell how old an oyster is?
Answer: By the number of rings in their shells (just like a tree).

The trivia winners, received some cool swag from Island Creek Oysters!


We had fun sampling different types of champagne to pair with our oysters. This is all that was left at the end of the night....

Our friend, Alaskan King Crab came to join us - made for a great centerpiece on the table! Not to mention, a lovely snack after he was done doing his job as decor.

So remember when planning your next party - entertain the idea of an oyster tasting party.  It's a great way to get people together from all different backgrounds and enjoy a new experience together.

We had a lot of laughs watching the faces of the oyster "virgins" contort as they tried oysters for the first time - and a great time listening to the oyster "veterans" talk about tasting notes and their sampling experience over time.

Cheers! From McKinney Mommas!
Remember you can get Island Creek Oysters and Kachemak Bay Oysters shipped fresh right to your door and all the oyster gear you need from Harbor Island Oyster Co. to make for a great oyster tasting party!


Disclosure: I was not paid for this post.  All opinions are 100% my own and I am under no obligation to write a positive review.  Thank you to the companies mentioned for providing me with samples for honest evaluation.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Protect Yourself Against Cold and Flu Season with FREE Samples of Airborne!

It's that time of year.

Cold and Flu season. Yuck!

Protect yourself against colds and flu while traveling and at home with FREE samples from Airborne!

Click below to get your free samples: 


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Take a Quiz and Feed a Hungry Child

Sometimes blessings come in disguise.

An anonymous donor has agreed to donate a meal to a child in need for each person who takes a short quiz on WFP (World Food Programme).

Do your part and test your hunger IQ and help feed a hungry child today!

Test Your Hunger IQ

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday at McKinney Mommas

Is this photo worthy of Wordless Wednesday?

 "Love at First Sight" 

(Baby O.'s first visit with Santa)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from McKinney Mommas!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas!

This photo is from our first visit to Christmas in the Square - Frisco, TX this weekend!

I hope you are able to take a moment today, amidst the craziness of the holiday to reflect, if only for a moment on the small miracles that happen around you every day.

It's all the tiny moments that add up to a rich and full life.

So, enjoy your tiny moments today!

- Shiloh K.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Island Creek Oysters and Ted's Rocky Fellas = Huge Hit!

Here's one of our favorite bites from the "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Tasting Party:

Ted's Rocky Fellas

For the party-goers who were new to oysters, we decided to cook a few for them. 

I know, I's a sin for oyster connoisseurs to cook these precious babies, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

We tried a recipe called, "Ted's Rocky Fellas" on Future Seafoods, made with a few Island Creek Oysters.

Oooey Gooey cheesy goodness, cooked in beer with a snap of bacon to compliment the gorgeous oyster middle.

They were a total hit!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate Covered Fruit? Yes, Please!

McKinney Mommas has someone very special in our lives who likes to spoil us....and she goes by the name of "Lo-Lo" (coined by our daughter who can't say her real name).

Here is "Big Sister H." and Cousin S before they dug their precious little hands into this delicious fruit and chocolate basket that arrived today!  

Thanks "Lo-Lo" for our Edible Arrangements Holiday House!

We love you!

......and for our favorite readers: if you don't hear much from McKinney Mommas the next few days, it's because we're entertaining both sides of the family that flew in for a special McKinney Mommas TEXAS Christmas!

Don't worry, we'll be back in full swing before the New Year comes around! 

* PLUS stay tuned to our TWITTER page for scenes from our "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Party....happening in T-minus 3 hours!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Need Somewhere To Put That Champagne?

I'm gearing up for my "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Party later this week and have a few final items to set the party off right.

Personal Creations has a plethora of goodies to help me throw a great party during the holidays.

Galvanized Beverage Tub

This Galvanized Beverage Tub is perfect for my holiday party.  I'm going to fill it with crushed ice and settle some champagne bottles inside. It'll be great for summer patio BBQ parties too, filled with our favorite beer!

It's even larger than it appears in the photo, perfect size for 5-6 wine bottles or lots-o-beer and soda.  I had mine engraved with "CHEERS!"

I want my party guest to feel welcome, and this personalized Happy Holidays Doormat will do just the trick. I added our family name, and it looks great sitting at our front door, sandwiched by two baby pine trees and a wreath to make the entrance to our home festive and inviting!

One of the reasons I'm hosting this party, is because my family is flying in from all across the country to celebrate my daughter's first Christmas with us here in Texas.  

Our daughter's Nana always sends owl related clothing and gifts because our nursery is owl themed.  We decided to return the favor and create this personalized Christmas Is A Hoot mug just for her, with the names of her grandkids on it.

I can't wait to see her response when she opens up this personalized gift!

Who would you like to buy a personalized gift for this year?

*Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. The products used to facilitate this review were given to me free of cost by the company for evaluation.  However, all opinions are 100% my own and I am not under any obligation to write a positive review.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's a Bird, it's a Plane,'s a Tiny Superhero! [Review & Giveaway]

There's nothing more empowering than putting on a cape and becoming a superhero for the day.

TinySuperHeroes is a cool shop on Etsy that makes personalized superhero capes for the SUPER kids in your life. 

What if you could magically give your young child a gift of:





That's what it did for my little Super H!  At only 21 months old, we haven't watched much TV or come across many superheroes.  

However, when my little one put on her "SUPER H" cape she immediately took off through the house, "flying" with her arms in the hair saying "Soop Soop" aka. superhero!

Can you tell she's one happy girl with her "SUPER H" cape on?

She stopped for a moment.................I waited to see what she would do.

"Climb, Mommy?" I broke out in roaring laughter! How did she know that superheroes can climb walls?

Perfect for fall or winter months, this cape is fleece on the outside and has a fun print on the inside.  

You can choose the size, letter, color and which amazing kid you want to turn into a superhero! 

ZOOM, and she's OFF!

Check out all the cool cape designs for your little hero at Tiny Superheroes on Etsy!

Enter to Win

Prize: A Personalized Tiny Superheroes Cape
 (Retail Value $30)
  • Deadline to enter: January 4, 2013
  • Complete Rafflecopter entry form below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. The products used to facilitate this review were given to me free of cost by the company for evaluation.  However, all opinions are 100% my own and I am not under any obligation to write a positive review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Mother Should Die In Childbirth - Support Maternity Worldwide

How would you like to save a life today?

No mother should die during childbirth, due to lack of proper care!

Today you can sponsor a mother-to-be in a developing country, to ensure she has access to the resources she needs for a safe birth!

Maybe you can ask your family, instead of traditional gifts this holiday, to give a gift of a Safe Birth Certificate to Maternity Worldwide this year on your behalf. 

Qiybise's Story

You can read some of the inspiring stories of how Maternity Worldwide has helped save the lives of both mothers and babies in 11 developing countries here: Case Studies

Note: The website is based in the UK, so the dollar amounts show in pounds until you checkout. Don't worry you can still contribute if you live in the US!

Show 'em Some Love 

For more information, visit: 


*Disclosure: I was not paid for this post. This post is part of my commitment  The Global Team of 200 which is a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on spreading the word about maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy at Sandy Hook, NRA and Assault Weapons

I feel sick to my stomach.

It's hard to write about anything after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, without feeling trivial. I want to help somehow, but don't know where to start.

I lived in Connecticut for 6 years, only 30 minutes away from where the tragic school shooting took place on Friday.  I also have heard from former co-workers with relatives directly touched by this terrible event

Graphic by: sattva/

I want to do something.

I want to go hold the little girl who lost her twin brother in the shooting. I want to go wipe the tears from the mom's face who saw her little girl walk out the door in pink cowboy boots, for the last time in her precious short life. 

I want to write lawmakers to pass bills that will keep guns out of the hands of people who aren't mentally well.

Heck, I want laws to pass that will keep guns out of the hands of everyone that doesn't have a necessity for one!

I visited the NRA's website this week, and found it strangely silent.  

Their TWITTER account has not posted since the morning of December 14th (prior to the shooting).

Their Facebook page, strangely has disappeared, since posting the banner above, the day prior to the shooting. 

Coincidence? I think not.

Assault rifles should not be available to citizens as collectors pieces or otherwise (the shooter's mother purchased it to add to her gun collection). There is absolutely no reason that an American citizen should need access to a gun that is MADE for killing people.

I did a search today for "assault rifles for sale" and found numerous places online that they are available for purchase.  Something is wrong here in America.

How can we fix this?  Let's find a way to work towards making sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen again.

In the meantime........

Want to Help?

Here are a few links to resources that have been set up to help the victims of Newtown / Sandy Hook, CT:

I'd love you to share your thoughts with me below!

Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm In The Oyster Shucking Mood!

I'm getting really excited for next week.

It's my husband's birthday and I'm also throwing my very first oyster tasting party!

"Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Tasting Party 2012

McKinney Mommas has some fabulous companies participating in helping us throw this exciting event our family and friends this holiday season.

I want to give a pre-party shout-out to:

  • Harbor Island Oyster Co. has a gorgeous selection of oyster related gifts. Personalized oyster shucking knives, oyster lover gift sets (for your favorite married couple) and more!
  • You can still order from them in time for Christmas Gifts, if you place your order by December 19.

  •  I can't wait to taste these briny little babies! Rowan Jacobsen of The Oyster Guide describes the growing environment as: "grown in floating lantern nets surrounded by glaciers and whales on the tip of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula."

  • If it's East Coast Oysters you crave, Island Creek Oysters, grown in the bay of Duxbury, Mass might be for you.
  • Order by December 22nd before 10am for delivery straight your doorstep by Christmas Eve!

Keep your eye out for a post documenting all the Oyster-lovin' and holiday fun we'll be having at our "Shuck the Halls" Oyster and Champagne Tasting Party!

Have YOU ever been to an Oyster party? Any suggestions or advice to share?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gingerbread Houses, Chanukah Houses - The Holidays Must Be Here!

I'm sure you have heard of Gingerbread Houses.

But have you heard of a Chanukah House?

Leave it to Manischewitz, (my favorite kosher food company) for coming up with the creative idea of a Chanukah House Decorating Kit! 

Our local playgroup had a Gingerbread House decorating day set up, so I decided to join in and share some Chanukah Houses with the group.

The kit comes with absolutely everything you need for making the cutest Chanukah House:
  • Vanilla Cookie House (4 walls, a roof, chimney and base)
  • White Vanilla Frosting - to glue the walls together
  • Blue, Yellow and White Fondant
  • Blue and White Sprinkles
  • Yellow Sanding Sugar
  • Multiple shades of blue icing
  • Menorah, Star of David and Multi-colored ball Candies

The back of the box has very detailed instructions on how to build the house, and it was quite simple to do! No architecture degree needed here.....whew!

Houses out of the boxes.....let's BUILD!

p.s. can I mention that every single piece was intact up on arrival, it's all packaged so well even thought it came to us by mail!

Okay, we've got the foundation laid, walls up, roof on. 

Piece of cake...or Babka?

The icing dries very quickly, so we didn't have to have the kids sit and wait for hours to decorate!  

Anyone with kids knows that the idea of waiting while surrounded by candy and frosting is not a simple task!

Cookies, Candies and icing - OH VEY!

Some creative roof work by little man "S."

Deep in thought on how to lay the fondant best, no doubt.

Nice icing technique Syd!  Yes the moms had to help some with the building and directing candy towards the houses, not only into the mouths!

Using the fondant was not the easiest task, well not for me anyway. Let me disclose that I am NOT a baker, so I don't work with this sweet stuff often (or ever).  

I found that you have to really roll the fondant out quite thin for it to work best, and you have to make the surface sticky that you're attaching it to (so use icing or a dab of water). To make your time easier, check out these tips for working with fondant.

Once I got the hang of it, I felt quite accomplished! Don't expect to hear that I'm heading to cake decorating school anytime soon though!

Hey, the kids had fun and these houses turned out SO cute

I loved that we didn't have to worry about making and baking the gingerbread in the right shapes and sizes, as the Chanukah House was all ready to go!  

The finished product!

We entered our Chanukah House in Manischewitz's Chanukah House Decorating Contest on Facebook!  Wish us luck, as the prizes are $500, $200 or a bunch of Manischewitz products!

You can enter your Chanukah House in the contest too, just enter HERE before Friday, December 14th, at 11:59pm!

*Disclosure: I was not paid for this post.  All opinions are 100% my own and I am under no obligation to write a positive review.  Thank you to the company or PR rep for providing me with a sample for honest evaluation.