Monday, June 30, 2008

Nail Polish Review & My First Giveaway

I can not wear nail polish. I like it, but it always starts chipping and peeling about two hours after I finish applying it. And it usually takes me a couple of hours to apply. Hence my love of Sally Hansen Natural Shine Instant Nail Finish, which I wrote about previously. My nails grow freakishly fast, unlike my hair, but are very thin and soft. They bend and break a lot and when I wear polish it bends and breaks too. So I am forever trying products touted as "the latest technological breakthrough." Which is fine, because the rejects from my dashed manicure hopes and dreams work out perfectly for my toes, keeping my bathroom full of the trendiest colors.

But the folks at Sally Hansen really have a winner with their new polish, Sally Hansen Hards as Nails Hard as Wraps. I'm guessing they matched the length of the name to how long the polish will last. With three kids in tow, I bought some at the grocery store for under $5 - now that's Beauty on a Budget! I blocked out a couple hours to apply my new find that night. Imagine my suprise when the first coat went on smoothly and dried quickly, and in 30 minutes I was finished with two coats. And it was sheer joy to find my first chip didn't come for an entire 36 hours, and really everything looked very good for about 48 hours. A small miracle for me! If you have healthier nails than mine (and don't have to spend two hours a day washing dishes, clothes, bathrooms, baby bums, etc.) I can see your manicure lasting four to six days without serious chips.

The first color I tried was Coral Creme. It was very bold and certainly fun and appropriate for summer, but more of a special occasion choice, rather than everyday. Next I chose Sheer Pink Gloss. I didn't like it much - it looked merely clear and gave my nails a bit of a fake look, although I gather that's the point of wraps. The third and favorite pick was Sheer Lilac Gloss, a beautiful soft pink with a hint of shimmer.
Since this is the first regular post at The Well-Rounded Woman, I wanted to host a giveaway. Unfortunately no one is offering me free products so I chose this nail polish because I can afford an extra bottle from my own pocket (yes, husband, this purchase falls under my mad money category). Please leave a comment at this post and on Saturday morning I will choose a reader at random to win a bottle of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Hard as Wraps in a color of their choice. Make sure I have some way to contact you in case you win. You may e-mail me if you don't want to leave your address in the comments. thewellroundedwoman (at) gmail (dot) com. You may enter once per day.
Check out Fussypants for more tips on how to Fight the Frump in your life!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

All About The Well-Rounded Woman

Welcome to The Well-Rounded Woman! As women, we find our lives very full and often sliced into many little pieces. We have developed a wide range of interests, hobbies, and skills, all of which help in our many roles and responsibilites. In running a family and maintaining a home we try to keep everything running smoothly without losing ourselves in the fray. This blog serves up slices of interest to the well-rounded women, including the following weekly features:

Beauty on a Budget
Jeans, shoes, dresses, bags, sunglasses, hair-products, make up, lotions - It takes work to look this beautiful, but the Well-Rounded Woman manages it without blowing her grocery money or more? The best products come from the drugstore. Read about favorite products, new finds, and merchandise that failed-to-impress.

Home and Family
Crafts, projects, activities, recipes, decorating & entertaining ideas, tips & tricks - all to keep the Well-Rounded Woman and her loved ones happy. Posts of all kinds pertaining to being a wife and mother and striving to maintain a beautiful and peaceful home.

Do It Herself
The Well-Rounded woman knows her way around basic tools. If you are pretty handy around the house, or want to be, check here for ideas about tackling projects from renovations to repairs, or just making your home look and function better.

Thanks for stopping by - The Well-Rounded Woman welcomes all readers! Please join the fun and share your own comments. If you like what you read, I would appreciate your support through a link on your blogroll or by adding this button to your sidebar. Copy the following text:

Affiliations: I belong to Mom Select, BzzAgent, and am a member of Amazon Associates.

On a personal note, I thought long and hard about what to name this blog and can document my thought process to the final concept. After moving from a weekly calendar to a round one, with seven pieces for the days of the week, I liked the idea of life being like a pie, with a million slices for all the things I spend my time and resources on. I moved to a eight sliced pie just for aesthetics and thought of how over-taxed well-rounded I am. I loved the name and was able to secure the domain. The week after I thought this all out, after many explanations to my husband and best friend, this Baby Blues comic strip ran in the Sunday paper. My husband brought it to me and said, "is this what you have been talking about?" Yes. He does listen. And I'm amazed that two men can understand this concept so well - they must be fathers. Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott give a very accurate accounting of what every day is like for many mothers. I chose to keep all my pie pieces equal, merely acknowledging all the slices of my life. Balance is another story. Find your own.

All About Me

Hi, I'm Tara. I am a mom to three small boys, wife to one wonderful husband, and the author of this blog. We are natives of hot & sunny Arizona and have both lived in the same square mile for 90% of our lives. I love Craftsman-era design, reading mystery novels, and wielding power tools almost as much as I enjoy a bag full of new shoes or blogging. I am particularly fond of lip products.

I love certain television shows and am currently running a weekly recap of Project Runway. I enjoy cooking and am lucky to have a foodie husband who constantly sends me recipes to try and lauds my efforts, great or small. I love writing about everything beautiful, neat, or handy. In fact, I'm finding that I like writing in general. I should have majored in English instead of Chemistry. I keep my eyes open for group writing projects or contests and this is my favorite piece so far. I'm thinking of expanding it into a book. But I might just think on that for a while.

Other interest and hobbies include design, entertaining, reading, sports, Mt. Dew, traveling, fonts, family, friends, and church. I struggle to find a good balance between all the areas in my life but I try to keep my family's interest first. But not necessarily cleaning. When I list all my interests I can see the diversity and call myself a Well-Rounded Woman. But I bet most of you are too.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


The countdown... 1 More Day!

Things have normalized at home and I am finally finding more time to blog. I bought a custom domain and am giving this blog a new home. Blogger will forward everything from Tara Thinks so no worries about broken links or feeds. But please stay tuned for my renovated space and concept! I will announce the name and address this weekend and can't wait to share my new ideas with all of you.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Best Thing My Drill Ever Did

This is probably one of the simplest home improvement projects I've ever done - but the most important thing my drill has done lately. I have a barely two-year-old, whom I've written about extensively at my family blog. A few months ago he learned how to unbolt the front door, and has been doing so regularly, trying to escape. After a few near-misses, one of which I caught him before he made it to the street only because his pants were around his ankles and he couldn't run very fast, I high-tailed it to my local Home Depot. And bought this:

Since my son's life depended on it I couldn't wait around for anyone to install this for me. Good thing I'm pretty handy with a cordless drill. A Do It Herself project!

The package included screws and crappy directions. But in less than five minutes, with only my drill and one mistake, I had this:

With hinge-locks properly installed on our front and garage doors, my family is now safely locked it. Oh, and I hear they're good for security purposes too. If only that were my main concern.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For the Love of Nature

I keep a list of fun kid activities and crafts and I add to it frequently with great ideas I find on other blogs. Some will be more successful when my boys are older. Some require a bit more time and preparation on my part. But I found these two ideas just this week and they would be perfect and easy for kids of any age. I have linked to both of these blogs, and included their pictures, but the basic idea is to make walks more fun and interactive for your kids. When I take walks with the boys, two of them are strapped in the stroller the entire time and would probably love a little something to do.

Michelle's idea takes a little bit of prep, but is reusable - use an egg carton to keep little treasures you find on your walk. You can color code the compartments and look for items to match, or use letters of the alphabet for older kids.

Laura's idea is very quick and easy - perfect for little ones but still fun for older kids. Take a piece of masking tape, sticky side out, and wrap it around your child's wrist to make a bracelet. They can attach all their interesting treasures to it.

The only problem with all these great suggestions is that I can't use them now. Don't these people know it's been over 110 degrees here for like three weeks! These ideas will go on our list for the fall. Unfortunately it doesn't cool off here until October or later. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Book Review: The One Armed Cook

I love the premise of this book - mothers with young children only have one arm available to cook because the other is usually holding a baby. Or swatting snuggling a toddler. Or cleaning up a mess. These are all frequent occurences in my house. Authors Cynthia Stevens Graubart and Catherine Fliegel have a winner here. Check out the website, which includes some free recipes like the Shrimp Coconut Corn Chowder at the end of this post.

My friend recently had shoulder surgery and had to live with the use of only one arm for over a month. So, being the sweet friend I am, I sent her this book, since I had been curious about it anyway. Then I checked it out from the library for myself, so we could compare. I pulled out my sticky notes and marked 20-25 recipes, then had my husband pare it down to a few to try.

The One Armed Cook is organized well, with an introduction of the concept and ideas first, then meal ideas and recipes month by month as your baby gets older, including special occasions. The second half contains all the recipes, arranged by type: appetizer, sides, poultry, dessert, etc. I tried three recipes and liked them all. The black bean soup was quick and easy for lunch, made even better with a few modifications. The beef stroganoff in the crockpot was simple and delicious, much better than other recipes I've tried. I've made it twice in the last month. And I had to try the One Armed Cook's version of Blender Chocolate Souffles. My current favorite is here at but this one was wonderful too.

Overall I think this cookbook has a great concept and will try several more recipes (that I copied before I returned this to my library). If I like those too, I'm sure I'll just buy a copy for $20. I might even stock up on a few for great baby shower gifts. Pretty cheap for a bounty of quick and easy, family-friendly recipes. It works for me!

For more Works For Me tips, see here. For more yummy recipes, see here.

Shrimp Coconut Corn Chowder

The shrimp, coconut, and cumin, lend traditional corn chowder an exotic flair. Corn and potatoes make this delicious one-pot meal kid-friendly, but you may wish to portion some out for the kids before adding the aromatic spices. Serve it with some crusty bread and a tossed green salad.

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 30 minutes
1 generous swirl of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 (20-ounce) package "Simply Potatoes" diced potatoes and onions
1 (16-ounce) package frozen yellow corn
1 (13 ½-ounce) can coconut milk
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp, fresh or frozen
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes to release the flavor.
Add potatoes and onions, corn, coconut milk, chicken broth, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper, stirring well to mix. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the shrimp, stirring well to mix, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, just until shrimp turn pink.

© The One-Armed Cook™

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gryson for Target

One of the best ways to fight the frump is with a new accesory. Handbag, sunglasses, scarf - these all have the ability to transform your look and attitude with a minimum of cash and work. I first saw a Gryson for Target handbag in Lucky Magazine. It was the small, white, woven-leather bag and I thought it was so cute. And when I flipped to the back cover, there was a Gryson for Target ad with other great bags too. When I finally got to the store to check them out, this large, drawstring bag in a cool blue-grey (fake) leather is what reached out to grab me. The small ones were too shiny and pleather-y. And even though this bag isn't real leather, it's still soft and I love the white accents and absolutely adore the woven handles.

Aaron makes fun of me for loving huge bags - this one is bigger than my diaper bag. But that's the look I like and feel that I need as a Mom who has to carry things for myself and three small boys. I hate carrying more than one bag, so will probably only use this bags for special outings for now. But I think the color of my new Gryson for Target bag is perfect for fall, and hopefully by then I won't have to carry so much newborn paraphenilia and can make the switch permanently. I hope to post of picture of myself carrying the bag soon. And the best part - my bag retailed for $50, but is now on clearance for $25, a bargain in my book that qualifies my purchase as Beauty on a Budget!

For other Fight the Frump tips, check out Mrs. Fussypants.

This weekend I am revealing my newly renovated blog space and concept! Please check back on Monday - I'll be having a Beauty on a Budget giveaway to kick things off.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Product Review: Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler

I think one of the easiest and fastest ways to make myself look better and to resist looking like a frumpy housewife is to curl my eyelashes and wear mascara.

I have been reading about the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler for years - it is always a favorite in the fashion magazines "best of" and "reader's favorites" types of polls. I have been using a Maybelline eyelash curler for about twelve years - and I mean the same one. I bought the little replacement pads, but haven't been able to find them for a couple years now and let's just say I've been risking a myriad of possible eye infections lately. I finally decided to bite the $19 bullet this spring and try a new curler, especially when I found out most other brands are like $15 anyways.

I use an eyelash curler every time I wear mascara, which is unfortunately not everyday. But if I don't curl my lashes they tend to stick straight out from my face, and when you look at me from eye-level it looks like I am lashless, even when I wear mascara. When I first bought my Maybelline curler back in high school I remember squeezing for two or three seconds and being happy with the results. Fast forward to last month - ten seconds, twelve second, okay, I guess that'll have to do.

My sweet sil offered to watch all three of my kids one Friday so I could have some "me" time. My busy mother rearranged her schedule to go shopping with me and we hit a great new outdoor shopping center, with Sephora my top stop. After examining the Shu Uemura curler and comparing it to the other brands and asking the well-made-up shop girls I just grabbed the box and ran to the counter. Then my mom suprised me by paying for it with an exclamation of Happy Mother's Day. Yes, she's that kind of mother - thanks Mom!

When I opened up my new gift at home it took me a minute to figure out the new angle, which was a lot different than my old one. And just like the make-up girl at Sephora said, it is much wider and actually grabs all my lashes at once. One squeeze and I was converted. It only takes a second or two and my lashes just curled skyward and I felt transformed. (Luckily I do mascara very last in my make-up routine.) I will never go back to Maybelline, which is good because I'm not sure they're still making eyelash curlers. And even though $19 is more than I generally spend on a beauty product, if I amortize the price over ten years or so, I don't think even my husband can complain. Plus, weren't you paying attention? Mine was a gift! So toss your old curler, or vow to start using one, and head over to Sephora where a mere $19 separates you from heavenly lashes.

For other tips on how to Fight the Frump, check out Mrs. Fussypants.
The latest review I read about this curler was on Chic Critique. Written by June, it finally convinced me to go out and buy it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Going Places: June Writing Contest at Scribbit

I was born in 1976, the same year my parents purchased their first new car, a 1976 Chevy Chevette. And five short years later they had enlarged the family with two more girls and a 1976 Chevy Van. This was no mini-van. We had a full-sized van with two bench seats and about five feet of storage space in the back. It was chocolate brown with a tan stripe and a complicated sliding door that none of our friends could latch. My parents didn't just just use our van to transport three and later four little girls around to a myriad of children's activities - we also used our van to transport our family to a veritable nirvana of bonding opportunities, the family vacation. Oh yes, we were going places.

In the early days, my parents couldn't afford plane tickets to fancy destinations, but being the wise nurturers they are, they knew family vacations were important. So we would load up the van and drive to exotic locations such as our favorite camp site on the Graham Mountains or the best hole in the wall motel in San Carlos, Mexico. And these trips make up some of my fondest childhood memories. With four girls, we each had our own place. The youngest could fit on the floor between my parents' front seats. A bench each for the two middle sisters, which left the back free for me, the privledge of being the oldest. My Dad would fashion a little bed on one side out of foam pads and blankets and pack the other side all the way to the ceiling. It's probably a miracle I was never killed by a falling pile. I would sit back there with my Walkman, listening to Air Supply and reading my books. And daydreaming about boys too, as I got a little older.

Many times we vacationed with other families, with lots of other kids. Once I became a teenager my friends would ride in the van with me and we'd slouch in the back bench, sharing a set of headphones and listening to They Might Be Giants. It takes about twelve hours to get to San Carlos, Mexico from Arizona and our van made the trip four times through the years, usually pulling a boat. We even have a lot of family pictures standing right in front of that van - four girls with bad perms and big smiles revealing shining, silver braces.

My Dad loaded up our van at 3:30 one Saturday morning for a trip to California and I spent the whole trip reveling in the magic of my first kiss, the night before. And I imagine my sisters and I doled out a few kisses of our own over the years, right in the brown van itself. After I graduated from high school, my whole family made the trek to Utah to deliver me to college for the first time. And the van carried all the people who were the most important in my life, and all my worldly possessions. Oh yes, I was going places. In a 1976 Chevy Van.

This essay has been submitted to the June writing contest at Scribbit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Throw Out Those Clippings

Hi, I’m Tara. I’m a magazine junkie. It's been three hours since my last periodical. I constantly have stacks of unread, partially read, and thoroughly read magazines on my nightstand, next to my computer, and on tables in my living room. I subscribe to five or sixbut often don’t have time to read some issues until the next one is already out. And I never want to throw them away until I have documented everything interesting. I keep back issues of Martha Stewart Living, but with all the others I would cut out things I liked or wanted to save, and keep a big stack of ripped out pages, cut out scraps, and tiny slips listing websites or stores I wanted to visit. Last Christmas I made my wish list the old fashioned way – pasted all my cut-outs from catalogues and magazines on pieces of paper and stapled my collages together before I gave them to my husband.

Then I discovered Once you register at this free site you can add items from the internet and keep as many lists as you like, either public or private. I recommend the small download which adds a button to your navigation bar. Then whenever you’re surfing and find something you like, just click the Add to Kaboodle button and the site automatically saves a picture, description, and price of whatever you’re looking at. You can accept those, or change any yourself, and then add your own comments before saving your find to any of your lists. Once you hit okay you are automatically redirected back to whatever site you were on. And I appreciate that you can hit the back button and it’s as if Kaboodle was never even there, you just go back to the last page you were on at Amazon, Gap, Babies R Us, or whatever.

So now, when I find a few minutes to page through my magazines, I tear out my favorite things, look them up online, and save them to Kaboodle. And my crazy pile of cut-outs is getting smaller. Check out my list of beauty products to try.

For other tips check out Works for me Wednesday, at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Recently I have been finding coloring pages for the kids online and just printing them off as needed. Our printer uses really cheap ink cartridges so it doesn't cost us much and we can find some of the boys' lastest favorites, even if that changes daily.

One site we like is Coloring Book, it has tons of characters from cartoons, movies, etc. and 20-80ish pages per theme. I also signed up to get free samples from Dover Publishing. They make tons of books - coloring, crafts, educational, and even CDs of clip art and stuff. Every week they send me an e-mail with a link to about 20 free sample pages. I have been saving most of the jpegs and can print those off for coloring whenever the creative mood strikes us.

Our latest google search find is They have a couple hundred pictures and you color them all online. You pick colors and then click on the picture, which fills in like using the paintbucket feature on Photoshop. The best part is you can save pictures, e-mail or print them, or embed them on your blog, website, etc. They give you the html code. Pretty fancy! I colored this monkey to represent Roland, Emmett helped me choose colors for the soccer boy, and Alden did the pirate ship all by himself. Then I finished off the planet scene.

This is what works for us lately. For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Play Me a Tune

In the course of my bloggy world, I have been neglectful of some of my other hobbies, like reading. Hence my recent posts on books and reading. Something else I want to spend more time on is music. Aaron has an iPod and loves it! One on my favorite evenings with him in the last few months was one spent sharing favorite songs with each other. And it was woefully clear... I am way out of it. I have never been on the cutting edge of music and since I quit working and listening to the radio on my commute, my music listening time has gotten lost in the traffic jam of life with three boys. Maybe American Idol is to blame for my newfound musical interest. Who knows? I do know that iTunes is both amazing and evil at the same time. Pretty much any song you want for less than a dollar, but do you know how fast those dollars add up? Well, our credit card does. After a few songs each from Jason Castro, David Archuleta, and David Cook suddenly I'm realizing I've reached my pay-for-music limit for the month.

I was told to try out Pandora for a type of free internet radio. You type in your favorite artist or song and they create a station of songs with similar characteristics. It's part of the music genome project and you can find out more about it here. I typed in Norah Jones and have been getting stuff like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and Alison Kraus. All of which I like - I would like to find more music by John Mayer and Jack Johnson. A small problem is lack of variety. A big problem for me is that I can't actually hear a certain song or artist on command. Pandora will play songs and artists similar to my search, but the actual one I searched for might get played once in 3 songs, or 5 songs, or 10 songs.

Then I got an e-mail with an offer for two free weeks with Rhapsody. I tried a free trial once on my TiVo and wasn't super impressed. It had a lot of music, but the search features and navigation take forever with the remote control. But once I had it on my desktop, I was in love! Basically for a monthly fee of about $13 you can listen to any song they have, and keep track of your favorites in a library. You can click to listen to one track, or a whole album - same with adding tracks/albums to your library. I didn't add all my own music library to Rhapsody, I'm currently using iTunes for that, but the software seems like it would do a good job - it seems pretty straightforward and intuitive. There are all kinds of features with guides, recommendations, stations, and playlists. While you are listening to a song Rhapsody gives you info on the artist - little facts and tidbits. You can even log on from any computer and play your favorites straight from the browser, although I think you have to download a small add-on. And now that I let my free trial account lapse, sort of accidentally joining (I hated to lose it!) I'm pretty sure I can sign in on my TiVo too and listen there. You can buy any track for 89 cents.

Some of my new favorites
Jazz Artist Bebel Gilberto
Ben Harper - Fool For a Lonesome Train - I know the Steal my Kisses song, but this one is quite a bit different and I love his voice
Colbie Caillat - Bubbly
Corinne Bailey Rae - Like a Star, Put Your Records On
Griffin House - Better Than Love
Ingrid Michaelson - Better Than Love, The Way I Am
Kt Tunstall - the whole Eye to the Telescope album
Lonestar - From There to Here: The Greatest Hits - great country album!
Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Yael Naim - New Soul

I'm always looking for new great stuff - please leave a comment with your favorites so I can check them out!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the most well-written book I've read in a very long time. The characters and plot were good; it takes place during WWII Germany. Using personified Death as a narrator was interesting. But what hooked me from the first page and kept me in wonder was the use of words and language. The imagery knocked me off my feet and made me wish I could ever express myself as well or evoke emotion like that. I loved the metaphors and symbolism. Yet the language was simple and easy to read. A huge treat for any word lover and bibliophile.

View all my reviews.