Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stocking Swap Wrap-Up

To wrap up the year, and my month of practically no posting, I wanted to write about my fun stocking stuff. Thanks to all my Stocking Swap girls for playing along with me and I hope you all come back to swap again next year.

My stocking was full to overflowing with contributions by both of my personal Santa Clauses, my husband and Emily, who was my Stocking Swap person. There were bunches of hand made notecards, which I'm already putting to good use. And there was a book and the most ingenious origami bookmarks. They're the little triangle things below. My days of dog-earing pages are over. Thanks, Emily!

Below I have listed participants in The Stocking Swap that posted about their gifts.

Wani at Wani's World
Glenda at Piper Paradise
Kristin at The Goat
Robyn at Cooper Chronicles
Marianne at Writer-Mommy
Ruth at My Other Secret Life...
Jennie at An Experimental Mommy Life
Stephanie at Stephanie Earls
Becky at Scripture Mom
Kathryn at Expectant Hearts

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Start Shopping for Tiny Treasures

A big thanks to everyone who signed up to be part of my Stocking Swap. I am waiting until the end of Sunday for any last-minute participants, but I have most of the assignments made. Look for an e-mail from me soon so you can get to know the blogger you will be stuffing for. Also, check out everyone else's blogs just to be neighborly. Once Christmas is over and the stockings have been un-stuffed, I will post links to anyone who blogged about the fun things they received in the swap.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Stocking Swap

Stockings from Etsy: Dick and Jane Rick Rack Stocking by lucky17, eco stockings by rikrak, The Bestest Felt Christmas Stockings EVER by cuzifeltlikeit, peace dove stocking in tweed by 3rdlife, Fireworks Christmas Stocking by howaboutorange, Delightful Swinging Monkeys (suede) Christmas Stocking by buckland

Christmas stockings are a cherished tradition at my home, with my husband and I both having grown up with specific stuffers that each child received every year. For him: chocolate oranges, pistacchioes, smoked oysters, and a new toothbrush. For me: chapstick, jewelry, and plenty of candy. We have taken items from both sides of the family and added a few of our own.

But... When Santa comes to your house on Christmas Eve, is Mom's stocking the only one left flat and empty? Or does it contain a few token things, that you probably wouldn't have chosen for yourself? Or do you, like me, fill your own or give your Mr. Claus minute instructions on how to fill it? Last year I followed some excellent advice from the FlyLady and swapped stockings with my fabulous sister-in-law. We had a lot of fun, and I had been debating on broaching the subject with her again, when I had an idea.

I am hosting a stocking swap here at The Well-Rounded Woman. If you are interested in giving and receiving some fun & creative stocking stuffers this year, please join in the fun. I will assign each participant a new friend for whom they will prepare and ship a stocking full of little sussies (a term borrowed from nicole). And another new friend will be shipping goodies to you too.


  1. Sign up to participate by sending me an e-mail at Please include your ship-to adress and your blog address. The deadline to sign up is Sunday, Dec. 7th.
  2. I will e-mail you the info for the person to whom you will be sending stocking stuffers. You should receive your assignment by Dec. 10th. Get to know them and find gift inspiration by reading their blog.
  3. Choose gifts - crafty, original, fun, useful, pretty, important, keepsakes - whatever you would like. We are encouraging you to use your imagination rather than your wallet. I don't want to have a dollar limit, but I also don't want anyone to feel they got shorted, so I am recommending a range of $10 to $20 total. And they should all fit into a standard size stocking, which you will NOT need to provide. Let's assume everyone already has their own stocking. If you need one, check out Etsy, where I found the beauties above. I would send the first one to my friend, Jane.

  4. Ship your stuffers by Wednesday, Dec. 17th so everyone will have them by Christmas.

  5. When you receive the little package at your house, please keep the fun going by passing it unopened to someone else, who will open it and fill your stocking on Christmas Eve. Then you can enjoy the magic of discovering everything Christmas morning.

I really hope many people join in on the fun here, but even if only one or two or three want to participate it will make for plenty of fun. Please feel free to invite a friend, or post about The Stocking Swap, or grab a button for your blog. This swap will be Working For Me this year, and I hope other Works For Me Wednesday fans will join in. Happy Christmas!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Help - My Holidays are being ruined by indecision

Thank goodness it is the last day of November. Did anyone notice I posted every stinkin' day this month? It was part of National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo. I'm not sure what made me think I should sign up. Okay, I do. It was Jane. But once I had committed I had to finish. I apologize for all the sub-standard content, even worse than my usual. But there were prizes involved and I'm really hoping to win something fun. Chances are really good I will be taking it slow during December.

For today - I need some help! I have been working on Christmas cards. I found some on Etsy that were super cute, and then I shamelessly copied them. But if you have more morals and money than me, you should buy these from Lisa Rupp Design. They're not even very expensive.

So, it's gonna be a postcard & I have two versions for you to choose from: the one with square pictures of each family member, or the one with floating heads. My husband and Jane are voting for the square pictures, but every time I look at the floating heads version, I like it. I like more white space, it looks cleaner. Although I look much better in the square pictures. What do you think?


Then there is the written part. I meant to write a short family letter, but when I made up the rough draft to show my husband, I wrote a quick, silly letter just so he would get the idea. And then everyone liked it. Including me. And I'm kinda too lazy to write a real one now. What would you think if you got a card like this?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

PVC Chair Plan

The instuctions for this chair can now be found here. Check it out and make this cute chair for all the kids you know!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

I had every intention of finishing a PVC pipe chair today and posting the design here for my Friday Do It Herself feature. But a play day with my family, including shopping, intervened so all my loyal fans will have to wait until tomorrow. I will leave you with this fun photo of my original chair, given to my sisters and I for Christmas in 1981. These are two of my sisters, Tami and Rachel. We often slept with pink sponge curlers, wore footed sleepers (love the toes sticking out), and had chocolate brown shag carpet. And that chair still resides in my parents basement.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankfulness Abounds

We are celebrating a little differently this year. Instead of a big Thanksgiving dinner with all our extended family, the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, fixings, pies, etc. - Aaron and I are taking our three boys out to eat at a restaurant. It was his idea. I supported him but was disappointed to be missing the big family dinner.

Then I realized what a brilliant plan it was! No chance of us hosting, so no frantic scrubbing, scouring, dusting, and cleaning. No rolls or pies to make. No schedule to follow. We have just enjoyed this week with our own little family. And we're spending today watching the Macy's parade and lots of football. Later, after naps, we'll load our boys up and head to Cracker Barrel. Laugh if you must, but it's the perfect place for kids, and it's home-style cooking.

Now, we are only skipping the family event because it's family that we see every week, all year round. If this were a get together with loved ones that we don't see often - we would be there. But I think we will make this a new tradition. We alternate years of celebration with my family and my husband's - and now, every three years we will skip all the hub-bub and spend our Thanksgiving day with our own little family, and leave the cooking to someone else. As the boys get older, we can try out much nicer places. And I can bake pies or rolls anytime I want. Maybe even today.

This year I am thankful for:
my husband
our eternal marriage
our sons
the time the five of us have to spend together (especially this
our health
our beautiful home
plenty of material blessings
our extended family
the word of the Lord through scriptures and prophets
the atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Mother in All of Us

I received a copy of The Mother in Me, by Kathryn Lynard Soper, for my birthday last month and have been lapping up every measure of goodness ever since then. This collection of 43 essays and poems is the most well-written compilation I have ever read. It is obvious that these women, already contributing to the carefully culled Segullah, are accomplished writers. Add to that a subject matter that will hit home with all women and you have a book that will last through multiple readings and keep you coming back for more over the years.

After I read the first few essays, I thought that they stacked the best ones at the beginning, to pull in readers with the gorgeous prose and heartfelt messages. But they didn't. There were standouts throughout the book, although the first story, Forty Weeks 'til Spring by Johanna Buchert Smith, remained one of my favorites. The seasonal analogies and beautiful imagery were so enjoyable to read. The subject matter ranges from first children to last children, infertility to adoption, loss and sorrow to joy. I think there are entries to appeal to every woman. Or the many women in each of us. The stories are all written from an LDS perspective, but the doctrine does not overcome the emotion and personal faith you feel from each author.

And don't get me started on the poetry. To me, this was the biggest surprise. I don't always appreciate poetry, but there were some amazing pieces in The Mother in Me. A few favorites were No Time by Johnna Benson Cornett, East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Melonie Cannon, and Since You Were Born by Darlene Young.

Since you were born there comes sometimes at night
a sense there's something dark that I must fight
without a sword. At night, upon my chest
you and all your children's children rest.

So, here are the few things I didn't love completely. The photographs were touted as being amazing - I thought they were... eh, okay. Nothing special. But certainly not distracting from any of the writing. The only other thing was that The Mother in Me was kind of long. It doesn't seem like a long book, but there are a lot of essays. Which is good, but reading stuff like this can take a lot out of you, emotionally. And after reading the first ten or so, I was ready to take a break and read a mystery or something. It took me a long time to get through the whole book. But I really enjoyed each individual entry - I don't know what I would cut to make it shorter. I guess it's just good to know you can set it down anytime and come back to it when you're ready.

This was a fabulous book & I'm recommending it to every mother I know for their Christmas wish list. I'm even giving one myself. And I know I will be going back to my copy again to reread some of my favorites.

This post was linked up to What's on Your Nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Apples Part 2 & Pumpkin Galore

I completed the 2nd installment of my apple process today. I turned the 8 cups of homemade applesauce waiting from last week into apple butter. It's delicious! Now I just have to find time tomorrow to actually can the stuff so I don't have to find room for all of it in my frig & eat it in the next couple months. Not that I couldn't - I totally could, but I need to ration it to last until next fall. My mom's recipe is as follows:

Apple Butter

16 c. thick apple pulp (my homemade applesauce)
1 c. vinegar
8 c. sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
Cook 1 1/2 hours stirring frequently until thick as desired. Bottle and put in water bath for 10 min. to preserve.

Okay, I only made a half recipe of this, I used apple cider vinegar, and found you need to keep it on pretty low heat. The first pot I tried wasn't very heavy & I burned a ton on the bottom. Not good - I had the heat on medium & apparently needed to stir every couple of minutes. But I poured the whole thing off into a heavier pot and turned the heat down & managed not to ruin the entire batch. Whew!

And speaking of butters, and pumpkin recipes (which I promised) - here's the best recipe of all!

1. Get in your car.
2. Drive to the nearest Trader Joe's.
3. Buy pumpkin butter.
4. Return home and eat it straight out of the jar, or if you can wait, it's fabulous on English muffins, pancakes, waffles, and the like.

Here's my jar, shown with my empty waffle plate last Friday. Hmmm, is it too early to make waffles again?

Okay, so some real pumpkin recipes.

I tried this Pumpkin Bread Pudding last week, from Smitten Kitchen. Oh, it was so fabulous! Rich & creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth - there was barely any left for my husband by the time he got home from work.

Cake is pretty much my favorite dessert - and pumpkin cake is pretty high on the ladder. This is my current best recipe - I found it on FlyLady a couple years ago. You bake it in a bundt pan & it's very dense, like pumpkin bread. You can hold a slice in your hand to eat, no plate or fork required. And cream cheese frosting is great, but not completely necessary with this cake. Here's the link - #6 on the clutter-free gift ideas. Thanks Flybaby in Lexington, KY! She has a great gift idea too.

For my own recipe, I will share my fave pumpkin cookies. These are absolutely the best - fluffy & cake-like, but a little crisp on the outside. It's the shortening. I almost always bake with real butter, but sometimes you gotta go with something else. I can eat an entire dozen of these straight out of the oven, but I try to hold back. They are best hot from the oven though. I don't embellish mine with anything, but you could. I actually just had some scrumptious pumpkin cookies at a church meeting that were flatter shaped and had great cream cheese icing on them. I must ask for the recipe. But try mine - you'll love them! And they're really easy

Pumpkin Cookies

Mix: 1 c. shortening, 2 eggs, 3/4 c. sugar, 1 c. canned pumpkin

Blend in: 2 c. flour, 1/2 t. salt, 2 t. baking powder, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ginger, nuts if desired

Roll balls in powdered sugar (My dough isn't solid enough to do this, but maybe if it had nuts in it. I drop by the spoonfull onto a greased baking sheet.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 min. Makes 3 dozen. (I only get 2 doz. out of this & have to bake for more like 12 min. What can I say? I like 'em big)

So, what else can I put pumpkin in? I love pumpkin pancakes and have used this recipe from Next I want to try this Pumpkin Rice Pudding that Jenny from Picky Palate posted. I'm even making Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup in Coconut Milk this week for dinner. I so love the fall!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Minimum Effort, Maximum Reward

I have that kind of hair that's mostly straight, but can kind of be wavy, or even curly with the right product. But even when it's straight, there are parts that won't cooperate, like the sides, underneath my ears. That part likes to be curly, and generally doesn't grow long. And I am currently wearing the rest of my hair long. This problem manifests itself mostly when I wear a ponytail (everyday) and especially when it's humid. I end up with what I affectionately refer to as angel wings - wispy, curly, halo-like masses over my ears. It's fun.

So, why all this babble about my hair? A few years ago I discovered a product that works wonders for me. My hair looks best if I use several straightening, glossing type products and blow dry and flat iron. But, being a mom of little kids, this only happens on Sundays monthly three times a year. But with this new mousse I found, my hair looks pretty good on many a day - at least until it gets scraped into a ponytail out of desperation.

Beyond the Zone Bored Straight is my favorite hair product. It's mousse. But with the amazing ability to straighten your hair. Well, they don't say it's a mousse, but anything that comes out of an aerosol can as a foam and is the first product I put on my wet hair is a mousse to me. I can comb out my hair after I shower, put Bored Straight all over my hair (not just the roots) comb it straight again, and let it airdry. That's it. Even if I don't use any other products, my hair ends up straight and smooth. And shiny. Oh it's good stuff. And only $6 at any Sally Beauty Supply.

If I'm feeling really fancy, I follow up with Beyond the Zone Straight Shot, which is listed as a straightening balm, but is really the stickiest, goopiest product I've ever used. You only need a little bit, and once I rub it on top of my hair (not throughout) I have a hard time getting the slimey feel off my hands. But this stuff is amazing too! I always get very straight hair without having to blow dry.

I continue to try new Beyond the Zone products and have liked others too. And these two are my favorites. But there's a few I didn't care for also, namely the Noodle Head curly products. With the right stuff, my hair can be quite curly or wavy, but I didn't like any of the four Noodle Head products I tried. It could just be me, of course, but in my opinion - go for the Straight Stuff! Here's the picture of me yesterday, I used both products, spent less than 5 minutes on my hair, no blowdrying.

For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I know you miss me...

I know my few faithful readers will miss my witty, hard-hitting, well-rounded posts (or so I like to pretend) but no time for posting today because my wee babe is sick. This was his first time throwing up, so even though it's nothing serious so far, it's still a big deal for us. Tending to his care, but will be back posting more things soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Old News, But Still Amazing

I received this e-mail forward from my sister-in-law last month, and as I looked up the story, it looks like it was in the news in July. So I'm a little behind the times here, but I thought this was such an amazing feat. Read the full story here, but the crux of it is a man in the Netherlands built a life-size replica of Noah's Ark. He used biblical measurements & did most of the work himself. There are even life-size replicas of some of the animals. I would love to see it! Next time I'm in the Netherlands...

Friday, November 21, 2008

DIH: Applesauce

Today's Do It Herself post is not so much a handyman project, but I did use a new tool. I made applesauce, with the help of my two year old son. Honestly, I would never make applesauce just for our general consumption, or to be more healthy, or more thrifty. But I have been craving some homemade apple butter, and it tastes best from homemade applesauce, and my mom gave me a bunch of the apples she had ordered. And loaned me her applesauce making tool - thanks Mom! I couldn't pass up this opportunity.

It turns out applesauce is really easy to make. I got instructions from my mom and a few websites & blogs, but found this site very helpful. Basically I washed my apples and cut them with that cool wedger that cores too - just the basic hand one that you can buy for like $5 anywhere. Then I cooked them in a couple big pots, with about an inch of water in the bottom. So I suppose that's like steaming them. Start the burner on high until the steam is really going, then finish on medium heat. You cook the apples until they are soft all the way through, which took 15-20 minutes for me.

Now comes the fun part, which my kiddo was very interested in. I used my mom's Squeezo, which is a mechanical contraption that you put together from about 20 pieces and when you put your cooked apples in the top and turn the handle, applesauce comes out. It's amazing. Apparently there's a Kitchen Aid attachment that does the same thing. Or you can use a metal sieve, basically anything that will mash the apples and separate the peel & other unsavory parts from the sauce.

It's recommended to use sweet apples, such as Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, or Rome and it's better to use more than one kind to keep the flavor fuller. Or deeper or something - I don't really know these things. But my mom had ordered a box of Granny Smiths to make pie filling & I was happy to use her leftovers for free. All it meant for me was that I needed to add some sugar to make it more palatable. And it really didn't take much - some cinnamon makes it good too. These were added to the batch I was keeping as applesauce, the apple butter needs more fun stuff.

More on making apple butter & some of the most fabulous pumpkin recipes you've ever had coming up soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photo-Inspired Project

As I was taking photos from my bed last night, while checking out the new camera, I realized my closet is looking pretty bad. I have dozens of unused hangers, mostly crappy ones that I hate using anyway. And there's a lot of stuff in there that hasn't been worn in a long time, because they either mysteriously shrunk, or mysteriously got holes in them, or mysteriously went out of fashion.

So, my project for next week is to clean up this beast a bit. Nothing too fancy, just pare it down to what I actually wear. And ditch the crappy, extra hangers for decent ones.

My closet is not to be confused with my boys', which ended up in this state today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And the pictures will be wonderful

I picked up a new camera today. Someone may or may not have dropped the last one while trying to balance it sideways and take a picture of herself in her new outfit. Maybe.

We've been researching cameras for a bit, and have made the swap from Cannon to Sony. I'll let you know how it goes. And guess where I bought it? Target. It was a great deal because they ran out of the two versions beneath it, and were substituting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Target Works for Me!

Hey all you Works For Me Wednesday fans - I have a serious tip for you again today. Check out your local Target! I dropped by today to return something and got sucked in by the TEN clearance racks in the womens section. I was amazingly sans children for a bit, so I indulged in a little shopping for myself. And came home with like $75 worth of stuff. My husband pretended to be pleased with my purchases. And I think he was pleased with each individual purchase. Just not happy that there were so many. But I was! Don't forget to head there tomorrow to check it out.

I got a bunch of black items - this dress, and this top (sorry, can't find online), and this skirt. Somehow I found myself without black items to pair with all my church clothes. Now I'm all set, obviously.

And I snagged this silky top that falls just right on me, also to wear to church. Oh, those church people are gonna be impressed with all my new duds.

Oh, oh - I almost forgot. I also got these awesome shoes, which I saw on loads of peoples blogs, and which apparently sold out quick in most locations because they are Sigerson Morrison, and which are now on sale! I read the reviews & a lot of people said they weren't the most comfortable, so I'm wearing them all over the house today and tomorrow to make sure I can handle it. But I'm a little worried that my floors are dirtier than outside, so I hope I like them because the return desk might not believe I didn't wear them outside. Doubters.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Review: Loreal Infallible Never-Fail Lip Colour

The best Beauty on a Budget tip I could ever give you is to shop somewhere you can return things. Most of my new products are bought from the grocery store or Target. And they both take returns. Even used lipstick. Or mascara. You just say yes, it's used, but you didn't like it. And they don't even care - they just send it back to the manufacturer. I've found some good products this way, something I might be nervous to try, since I'm not sure it will be good. But I've found plenty of bad stuff that way too.

Today I'm sharing my thoughts on Loreal Infallible Never-Fail Lip Colour. While I'm a big fan of Loreal in general, and stockpile many of their fine products, this lip stuff - I didn't like it. And here's why.

*Not a big fan of the long-lasting lip wear. Even though I want to be and have tried more than five kinds. The Never-Fail was the worst I have tried.

*It left my lips super dry and wrinkly. Veeerrrrrry uncomfortable.

*It wore off my lips, probably helped by all the lip-rubbing and gloss applying I was doing, trying to get rid of the dry feeling.

*It did not wear off the edges of my lips. For like three days. The clown look is not for me.

And before you all comment in - yes, I do know the correct way to apply it. And yes, I let it dry without so much as allowing anything near either lip for like 10 minutes. Including one lip upon another. And yes, I used the gloss stick with it. Like repeatedly. I think I almost used it up. (A side note: I still have that accompanying gloss stick from a Cover Girl long-wear lip stuff that I used a few years ago. Their gloss is the best. I continue to hope they will sell it by itself.)

So, I took my Infallible Never-Fail Lip Color with the beautiful packaging back to the grocery store (without commenting on the failure of a name) and traded it in for a Loreal Colour Juice Stick. I wrote about that in my massic post, The Great Lip Product Debate. Anybody have better luck with the long-wear lip products? Help me out here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

flickr mosaics

I got this cool idea from Ali at Ali Loves Curtis. (Via The Scoop via Somewhere in Middle America via Wonderful One Times One.) It's a mosaic of my well-rounded life made from Flickr photos.

First, you answer these twelve questions.

01. What is your first name? (Tara)
02. What is your favorite food? (pancakes)
03. What high school did you attend? (Mountain View High School)
04. What is your favorite color? (Purple)
05. Who is your celebrity crush? (Pierce Brosnan)
06. Favorite drink? (Mt. Dew)
07. Dream vacation? (Italy)
08. Favorite dessert? (cake)
09. What do you want to be when you grow up? (a grandmother)
10. What do you love most in life? (family)
11. One word to describe you (mother)
12. Your Flickr name (The Well-Rounded Woman)

Then you build a mosaic by typing your answers one by one into Flickr's search function. You choose one photo for each of your answers, and you can only use images that appear on the first page of search results. Get the details here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday night at my house

Aaron & I are spending our Saturday night watching a DVD of the first season of Gilmore Girls - because it's awesome. This is after he made me a fabulous dinner & some delicious popcorn. And after I read in a magazine that John McCain has a 49-year-old son & Aaron tried to tell me that old John is 82 & would have been the oldest starting president ever. I'm pretty much out of it politically, but I was sooooo not buying the 82 thing, and thanks to my friend the internet I was able to prove that he is actually 72.

Anyway, we're watching Gilmore Girls and they just had one of the funniest lines in tv history. Rory got her first kiss and she was telling her friend, Lane, about it. Lane's mother, Mrs. Kim, caught the end of the conversation and, horrified, asked, "who kissed you?" And Lane says, "The Lord kissed her, Mama." Seriously, it was so funny and I laughed hysterically for like five minutes and then broke out the laptop to tell all my blogging friends about it. I know, it sounds pretty lame here, but you will love it. You should go watch it. Season 1, episode 7 - Kiss and Tell.

The end.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hands Full?

I'm sorry that you can't see this comic well enough - I tried showing it double, but it gets cut off. If you click on it you can see a big version. As my family has grown, baby boy by baby boy, I feel like I can relate more to some great comic strips. My husband and I like Baby Blues, but I also like Stone Soup. I like how the extended family is such an integral part of their daily life.

This strip shows the mother sighing over her blah day, watching the rain out the window as her daughters bicker. But she gains a little perspective as she watches another mother pushing a stroller through the rain, draggin a toddler, and talking on the phone to someone about an obvious potty emergency back home. Ah the life. And I often feel like that is my life. But I try to never forget about the ever-present mom who has it harder than I do. 'Cause she's always there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Sweet Deals

I've been getting some e-mails from friends about special deals right now. The first is with Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and the corresponding outlets - they're having a family & friends special with 30% off for the next four days. I didn't know how to reproduce this right - below is a jpg of the e-mail I got. Maybe you can just print it... or if you want the e-mail version I will be happy to forward it to you, just leave a comment with your address.

The next deal is courtesy of Oprah & Snapfish. You can get a free 20 page photo book if you jump on it today or tomorrow. Read about the deal here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rose Colored Glasses

Tonight I looked out my back window and wondered if something was wrong with my eyes. The entire world had turned pink. I ran outside and caught the last few minutes of a beautiful Arizona sunset. It was the most amazing light and I wish I had a decent camera to capture it.

The first picture caught the last of the pink, although I think I missed the height of it. The second shot is the fading orange over the rooftops. Amazing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WFMW: Read to Your Kids

My four year old son, Alden, likes to read... sometimes. You know, when he's not distracted by his bike, his brother, the tv, or umm, life. He's much more motivated since he started preschool. His angel teacher, Miss Peggy, gives each child a reading folder where they record every book they read. For every five books, he gets to choose a sticker to put on the front of his folder. And every time he reads one hundred books, he gets to choose a brand new book which Miss Peggy then inscribes with his name, the date, and how many hundred he has read. He just got to three hundred this week.

This program motivates my husband & I too. We can see how many books we read him in a day, and also when we haven't sat down with him for a couple days. We keep track of the names of books, to remind us of favorites, new & old. This would be a very cheap & easy idea for any parent to implement. It works for us!

Some of our favorites:
Sandra Boynton - Going to Bed Book, Pajama Time, Barnyard Dance
Jane Yolen - How Do Dinosaurs... Series
David Shannon - How I Became a Pirate, Pirates Don't Change Diapers

For an online version of your book list, for yourself or your kids, check out Goodreads. You can keep track of books to-read, currently reading, and read. You can rate books & write reviews. You can check out what others have thought of a book. You can add friends & see their lists & reviews. And you can add reviews & widgets right to your blog. Here's mine:


For other tips & ideas, read Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Vested Interest

I really love the look of a fitted vest over an outfit. This trend emerged a couple years ago but seems to be going strong. I first noticed it on House (one of my fave shows) because it seemed like Dr. Cameron was sporting this look a lot. And since she is so beautiful & I was always envious of her outfits & style - I've paid attention to this look ever since. There are a few options out there.

First is the sweater vest, in a traditional style. This are a bit fitted, and can be solid or patterned. You have to be careful to get something ... hmm, how do I put this? Something NOT like the sweater vests I wore in junior high. Here are some ideas:

Brooklyn Industries 5 Points Cardigan - I imagine this with dark wash skinny jeans & black penny loafers.

Forever 21 Academy Sweater Vest - this reminds me of Gossip Girl & is begging to be paired with a skirt

Boden Fun Tank Top - this comes in six great patterns

Then we have sweater vests in a more casual style - chunkier, looser, longer. They look so comfy but very stylish too.

Merona Drop-Shoulder Shawl-Collar Vest - I love the dark teal color & can see myself throwing this on over many a winter outfit. (Yes, we have winter here in AZ. It starts in about 6 more weeks.)

Forever 21 Cableknit Sweatervest - heathered grey is so versatile & the little pockets are so cute

The other option is a menswear-inspired vest, usually fitted. And therein lies the problem for me. I'm not holding out a lot of hope, honestly. But for those of you with smaller chests, here are some great pieces.

Gap Herringbone Vest - this classic tweed would look great over sporty looking jeans & turtlenecks, or over a floaty skirt & chiffon blouse.

Kohls Chaps Pin-Striped Vest - more masculine than others, but classic & sporty looking

Kohls Elle Pin-Striped Vest - I like the more feminine cut on this & the puffed pockets & gathered back. The grey is a nice alternative.

Target Isaac Mizrahi Double Breasted Vest - this one has maximum coverage & that cool double-breasted look.

Target GO International Flocked Vest - a cropped, modern version that reminds me somehow of the swingy trapeze jackets.

Kohls AB Studio Double-Breasted Vest - the ultimately sexy version, lowcut & slim black.