Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
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.
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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
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
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
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
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
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 allrecipes.com 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Then I discovered Kaboodle.com. 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
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 Coloring.com. 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
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
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.