Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Restoring Peace on the Homefront

Things have been a little tense around here lately. Jillian (5) and Josh (3) have taken to arguing over just about everything. The argument is always the same -- it revolves around being "first" and believe me when I tell you, nearly every event that crops up during the course of a day is up for "discussion."

Who gets to say prayers first.
Who gets to get their hair blow dried first.
Who gets to watch a video first.
Who gets to use the bathroom first.
Who gets to climb into the minivan first.
Who gets a bedtime story read to them first.
You get the idea.

It's been driving me slowly insane.

I tried to keep track of things for a while. You know, I did the whole, "Jilly, you said prayers last night. Tonight it's Josh's turn." But, after a while, I lost track. I'm trying to run a household here and there are a few more pressing issues for me to keep top of mind. So, a few days ago, I took a new approach. I told Jillian that on odd-numbered days, she would get to go first for everything the whole day. Josh would take even-numbered days.

This has worked out perfectly. The arguments have pretty much vanished. Whenever someone starts to whine, I merely point out the date. If you have more than two kids (thankfully, my 10-month-old isn't old enough to argue yet), you could assign a particular day of the week for each child.

It just makes life much more peaceful.
Hey -- listen for a second.
Do you hear that?

What? You don't hear anything?


For more tips that will add peace and simplicity to your life, head on over to Shannon's place!

Five Signs You Might Be Living with a Superhero

You find yourself tripping over "super boots" -- a pair and a spare.

You've got "bad guys" hanging out in your hallways.

Your pot lids do double-duty as battle shields.

Your hand towels moonlight as capes.

You provide laundry service for items such as this:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Look What I Won!

Well, the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival has ended and look what I won! A Little Girl's Hair Helper kit from Three P's in a Pod! Whooo! Can I tell you how much my daughter will appreciate the Suave Detangling Spray? And the bow is too cute! Thanks so much, Alyson, for hosting a terrific giveaway. And y'all go over and check out Alyson's place. She's got three little ones, just like me -- so you can bet there's never a dull moment over at her place!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Stake Out -- Part 2

Well, much to my relief, Hubs came home about 15 minutes after I posted Part 1 of my story. Here's the way it all went down:

Kids run in first and find me standing guard with the broom, my eyes fixed on the corner.

"Where's Daddy?" I ask, trying my best to act calm and natural.

They inform me he's on the phone in the garage.

"Could you please get him?"

Hubs strolls in, sees my concerned face, and tells his caller that he has to go. I inform him that we have a problem -- a lizard in the house.

"Michelle, is this what you've been doing the whole morning? We've been gone for five hours and you're still in your pajamas."

Okay. Look. I wanted to take a shower, but did you think I was going to leave the lizard unattended? Without my watchful eye, he could have escaped and gone anywhere in the house. He could sneak up on the kids, or worse yet the baby, who plays on the floor.

"So?" he says. "Did you think it would climb up her nose and eat her brain?"

Well, no. But now that you're here, you need to get him.

I escort him over to my containment area.

"You press and sealed him into the basket?!"

"I thought he might be in the basket, but I think he's hiding underneath."

Hubs walks up to the basket and gets ready to lift it up.

"Wait!" I practically scream. I had to be sure he was ready, because I can't tell you the number of times I've asked him to catch a bug, he knocks it around and it escapes. When he can't find it, he shrugs his shoulders and walks away, leaving me a nervous wreck. I was not going to take the chance that we'd lose this lizard. No way. I had way too much time invested.

"Are you sure you're ready?" I ask.


He lifts the basket. Nothing.

That can't be. He's hiding. Hubs looks all over the outside of the basket. Still nothing.

"Michelle, there's nothing here. You must have been mistaken."

Surely he's not thinking I made this up? No, I assure him, he's there. Look under the books.


Look under the beach towel.


At this point, I was starting to think I had hallucinated the whole thing. It couldn't be. I was watching so carefully. If the lizard had tried to run away, I would have seen his little black slithery body. He was a good 4 inches or so in length. He couldn't have gotten past me. My mind was reeling -- how was I going to get through the next few days knowing this little guy could pop out and scare the tar out of me at any moment?

Hubs goes down to pick up the last remaining towel on the floor and -- thank goodness! -- the tip of a tail. He grabs the little guy in the towel and escorts him out the door. In my great panic and subsequent relief, I neglected to have my camera ready. By the time I retrieved it so I could snap his picture, he was running away as fast as he could. But, for those of you who have an interest, he looked like this.

Would you want that running around your house?

I think not.

What's for Dinner This Week...

This week's menu includes our all-time favorite beef stew recipe, Beef Daube Provencal. My 5-year-old daughter loves this dish. The best part about this recipe is that you can cook it in the crock pot. It takes a little more prep work than your average crock pot recipe, but I promise, it's worth it! The recipe calls for red wine and, for the best flavor, you'll want to use a wine that is good enough to drink. There are several good quality wines available for around $10 that would work well.

The other recipe I want to highlight is the Cherry Pepper Chicken. This recipe comes together so quickly and has the best flavor. It was taken from Cooking Light, but I've made a few changes. You'll find the recipe below.

Monday: Fast Chicken Fettucine, Green Beans, Fruit
Tuesday: Beef Daube Provencal, Egg Noodles, Peas
Wednesday: Mexican Pizza, Edamame, Fruit
Thursday: Turkey Reuben Wraps, Salad, Chips
Friday: Dinner Out
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Cherry Pepper Chicken (recipe follows), Brown Rice, Salad

(If you're looking for an easy, downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)

For more menu planning ideas, don't forget to head over to Laura's!

Cherry Pepper Chicken
Serves 6

6 (6-oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 tsp. salt, divided

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. butter

8 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 Tbs. capers, drained

8 to 10 pickled cherry peppers (sweet or hot variety), seeded and chopped

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

2-3 Tbs. dry breadcrumbs

3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt. Dredge chicken in flour. Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds. Add capers and peppers; cook 30 seconds. Add broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in breadcrumbs; cook until liquid thickens (about 1 minute). Taste sauce, and add remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, if needed. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Stake Out -- Part 1

I'm writing this post camped out in my great room with one eye on the computer and the other on the floor basket that holds our afghans. I've been on a stake out for nearly two hours and I figured y'all might enjoy a little live-action blogging.

When our dog was alive, she made sure that the lizard population outside our house was kept under control. She loved to chase down the lizards, pull off their tails and bat them around. It was her way of "playing" with them, only she often ended up literally scaring them to death. Since she's been gone, our lizard population has flourished. Now, I don't have a problem with these lizards living on our deck, but when they start invading my space, I'm sorry, I have to take issue.

So, this morning, after getting Grace up from her nap and while walking into the kitchen, I noticed something dark scurry by underfoot. After jumping about three feet off the ground from shock, I realized it was a lizard -- that had just sought refuge in a tight corner behind our afghan basket.

Hubs took my other two kids out early this morning, so it was just me holding down the homestead. I can't relax knowing that something like this is loose in the house. They are so fast and they dart around everywhere, it creeps me out. And, I put my baby on the floor to play, for crying out loud. Not to mention, I don't know if it's my aura or anything, but little critters like that always find their way to where I sleep. Always. And I just can't have that.

I knew I had to act fast -- with any luck, I'd be able to catch it without placing a frantic call to my husband. I grabbed a Tupperware bowl and figured if I could just get it down over him, my husband could deal with it when he got home. (As a side note, this trapping approach is incredibly helpful when dealing with other unwanted pests, such as palmetto bugs, scorpions and spiders. In the warmer months, there's often at least one water glass daily that traps something awaiting inevitable disposable when my husband returns home.) I slowly pulled the basket away from the wall. He was sitting there, but I didn't think I'd have enough room to lower the bowl down. I tried to barricade his escape on either side with books (but who am I kidding? He could probably squeeze through the tiniest of cracks.) I stuffed the cracks, as best I could, with rags. He was definitely hiding in the shadows somewhere -- biding his time.

Three frantic calls to husband. Nothing but voicemail.

After about a half hour of panicked searching, I let my guard down a little. I had to feed my child lunch. As I was serving up her food, I thought I'd take a quick peek, just to make sure he hadn't popped out. I looked, and there he was, poised to dart on the top edge of the basket. It was my big chance! Unfortunately, in my excitement to run around and get him, I let out an "Oh!", which frightened him back into hiding.

I tried to poke the basket around with a broom to see if I might get him to give up his hiding spot, but he wouldn't bite. Then, I considered the possibility that he might have darted inside the basket among the blankets. So, I did what any self-respecting mother who is trying to protect her children would do. I press and sealed the basket.

Unfortunately, since I've been sitting here, I've seen his head poke over the books three times. He's getting antsy, which may or may not, play out in my favor. My biggest fear is that I make a wrong move and he'll manage to scurry someplace where I'll never be able to get him.

And, I'm sorry, that would keep me up nights.

So I sit here. Staring down the basket. Laying in wait. Running over with my broom every time I see his little head poke up.

I'm having a very busy Saturday, thanks for asking.

And the winner is...

Commenter number 216 -- Karen from Simply A Musing! Congratulations, Karen! I hope you enjoy the pendant -- I'll be touching base with you via email to get a mailing address. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and playing along!

Second-Helping Saturday: Brown and Wild Rice Chicken Salad

I made this new recipe last Sunday and wasn't sure how it would turn out. It was delicious! What's more, it makes a lot, so there are plenty of leftovers for lunch. The recipe calls for a 6-oz. box of brown and wild rice mix. I couldn't find a rice mix that had both brown and wild rice, so I used a box of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice Quick Cook Recipe. I also baked the chicken breasts in the oven instead of sauteeing them in a skillet.
Brown and Wild Rice Chicken Salad (from Family Circle Cookbook)
Serves 6

1 6-oz. box brown and wild rice mix
3 Tbs. tarragon-flavored vinegar (I used red wine vinegar and added a pinch of tarragon)
1 Tbs. honey-Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 Gala apple, cored and chopped
6 scallions, trimmed and chopped
2 large ribs celery, sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Lettuce leaves for garnish (optional)
Prepare rice mix following package directions. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. oil over high heat. Add chicken strips; saute for 4 to 6 minutes, until lighltly browned. Place chicken on a plate; cover and set aside.
In a bowl, combine apple, scallions, celery, pecans and cranberries. Add rice, vinegar mixture and chicken. Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves (optional); spoon in salad. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.

435 calories
21 g protein
38 g carbohydrates
23 g fat (2 g saturated)
4 g fiber

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Favorite Drug Store Beauty Finds

It's Friday and time to once again Fight the Frump! After you read this post, don't forget to check out Fussy's place for more great tips!

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I live in the country.

I'm defining "country" here as being over an hour away from the nearest Target, Starbucks, Panera and shopping mall. When a "country girl," like myself, is looking to steal away for a few quiet moments without kids in tow alone, there aren't too many places to hide out go.

All that to say, I spend a good chunk of my free time aimlessly wandering the aisles of CVS, searching for my sanity fun products to try out. Did you know there are a wealth of fantabulous frump fighters stocking the shelves of your local drug store? Here are a few of my favorite finds as of late:

Covergirl lashBlast Mascara:

I've written about this mascara in detail over here. For this post, I'll give you the cliff notes version: I used to buy expensive department store mascara (a.k.a. Lancome), but finally found a drug store brand that's a third of the price, doesn't clump, isn't sticky and looks incredibly natural. I love it more and more each day. You need to buy some. Today.

Sunsilk Shampoo, Conditioner and Styling Product:

I've been using Sunsilk's Daring Volume for a few weeks now, and I've been pretty impressed with the way it manages to volumize my fine, stick straight strands (no small feat, I assure you). I will say, however, there is a significant difference if I use just the shampoo and conditioner and forget the styling product. The styling product is key -- it adds a ton more volume than if I go without it. So, if you're looking to try the Sunsilk line, I would recommend using the shampoo, conditioner AND styling product. There are five varieties available to suit a wide range of hair types (including curly, wavy, straight, fine and chemical treated). You can actually request a free sample here.

Clean and Clear In-Shower Facial:

I first read about Clean and Clear In-Shower Facial at A Mom in Red High Heels, a great beauty and fashion blog (thanks, Jo-Lynne!). The In-Shower Facial is a mask you apply in the shower. The steam from the hot water activates the ingredients to help deeply cleanse your pores. The best part: it only stays on for one minute. Yep. Just one minute. Before rinsing it off, you gently massage it into the skin. Exfoliating beads help to slough away dull skin and extract impurities. I love the way the mask feels on my skin -- it's tingly and refreshing and leaves my face feeling really soft. When I'm out of the shower, I just finish off with some moisturizer. I feel like I really pampered my skin and it took no time at all. The bottle says to only use it three times a week, max. I love it so much, I wish I could use it every day.

Those are my favorite drug store beauty finds. What are yours?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Five Classes I Wish They Would Have Taught in School"

I've been tagged for a Meme by the lovely Mah-Meeee over at Raising A&C. She wants to know the five classes I wish they would have taught in school. Well, here goes...

I always felt that my college education prepared me fairly well for the jobs I ended up taking. Journalism is the type of degree that demands a lot of "on the job" experience, so by the time I hit the Real World I wasn't surprised by much.

But when I traded in my notebook and tape recorder for Motherhood, I found the learning curve to be a tad more steep. Oh, to have been able to take a few courses prior to assuming the title of "Mommy." Being a mother is the best job I have ever had -- and I wouldn't trade one minute of it. But, looking back the following course load would have proven extremely helpful:

1. Tackling Your Everest -- How to climb to the top of the laundry pile and stay there.

2. The Old Grey Mare -- Understanding your post-pregnancy body

3. The Multitasking Driver -- How to pass the sippy cup, change the CD and negotiate sibling squabbles while getting to your destination safely. (This course would include the optional 1/2 credit elective, Keeping it Clean: Preventing the minivan from turning into a dumpster on wheels)

4. Sleep Deprivation 101 -- Learning to Get by on Less, followed by Sleep Deprivation 201 -- Why Caffeine is Your Friend

5. The Art of the 5-minute Shower -- How to shampoo, condition, shave and maybe even wash a part or two before someone calls, "Mommy!" (this course would include timed trials)

EXTRA CREDIT: Iron Chef Practicum -- Concocting tasty and healthy dinner dishes featuring a single kid-friendly "secret ingredient," such as ketchup, ranch dressing or chicken nuggets.

And that's it! I'm going to turn around and tag:


GiBee at Kisses of Sunshine

Rules are simple...post your five classes and then tag some people. (Be sure to leave a comment at their blogs so they know they've been tagged!) Thanks for playing along!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best Baby Product Ever

When we brought our eldest home from the hospital, we were like most new parents -- overwhelmed. I found there was so much to do, so many things to worry about:

"Why is she crying?"
"Will she ever stop crying?"
"Did she nurse long enough?"
"How many wet diapers should she be having?"
"Is she still breathing?"

But all of those concerns were nothing in comparisson to my greatest fear -- the thing I dreaded doing more more than anything -- giving our baby a bath.

I just couldn't figure out how to do it all by myself. I could draw the water. I could set her in the tub and even manage to do a fairly decent job washing -- but it was getting her out of the tub that was always a problem. How was I supposed to lift her out of the tub without soaking the front of my shirt, wrap her in one of those postage-stamp sized infant towels and get the little hood on her head? All while supporting her head, mind you, because she was a helpless newborn, after all.

Lucky for me, I stumbled upon one of these:

This is the Snowflakes Towel Cozy. Allow me just a moment to tell you why this is THE BEST baby product ever. This towel velcros around your neck, like a large cloth apron. It keeps you dry while you're bathing your child, a huge plus if your baby likes to splash. But the best part comes when you pull her out of the tub. You simply cuddle that baby to your chest and wrap the towel around her. Viola! It's made of thick terry cloth (much warmer and cozier than that thin cloth they use for traditional baby towels) and has the built-in hood.

We own two of these towels. I also buy them six at a time to keep on hand for baby gifts. It's a gift no one else gives and ends up being something really appreciated by new parents.

Because they've got concerns, and how to get their child out of the tub should not be one of them.

For more great tips, head on over to Shannon's place!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What's For Dinner This Week

Just one carry-over meal from last week, the Brown and Wild Rice Chicken Salad. Other than that, I'm trying to keep things simple. The Easy Oven Crisp Chicken is so flavorful and tasty -- not to mention easy. I'm sharing the Mexican Lasagna recipe below. It is a healthier version of the old standby. It's my go-to meal when I'm bringing dinner to a friend (I've entertained at home with it, as well), and the leftovers taste even better. I made mine up last night and froze it for Thursday.

Monday: Easy Oven Crisp Chicken, Green Beans, Brown Rice
Tuesday: Chicken Marsala with Sauteed Vegetables, Egg Noodles, Corn
Wednesday: Pork Tenderloin, Broccoli Salad, Brown Rice Pilaf
Thursday: Mexican Lasagna (recipe follows), Salad, Fruit
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Carne Asada Tacos, Salad, Fruit
Sunday: Brown and Wild Rice Chicken Salad, Fruit

(If you're looking for an easy, downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)

For more menu planning ideas, don't forget to head over to orgjunkie.com.

Mexican Lasagna (from The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers)
Serves 8

1 lb. lean ground beef (90% or higher)
1 large carrot, shredded (about 1 cup)
One 16-ounce jar salsa
One 15 1/2-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
Five 8-inch flour tortillas, cut in half
One 16-ounce container lowfat cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups preshredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese

1. Cook the meat and carrot in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the large pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
3. Add the salsa, black beans, corn, chili powder, and cumin to the skillet and stir to combine.
4. To assemble the lasagna, arrange a third (about 2 cups) of the meat mixture in a 9x13-inch baking pan. Layer half the tortillas over the meat, allowing them to overlap. Spoon half of the cottage cheese and 1/2 cup of the Cheddar cheese over the tortillas and spread evenly.
5. Place 2 more cups of meat mixture over the cottage cheese. Layer with the remaining tortillas and cottage cheese. End with the meat mixture.
6. Top with the remaining Cheddar cheese and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and the lasagna is heated through, about 25 minutes.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How About Some Bling?

***UPDATED: This giveaway is now closed****

My obsession with jewelry started young.

In 5th grade, as part of a long, drawn out Madonna phase, I wore rubber bracelets up to my elbow. On both arms. Every day.

When I tired of those, I moved on to long strands of pearls. Then it was dangly earrings. Closely followed by gaudy, plastic charm necklaces (anyone remember those?). In short, if there was a girly bauble to be had, it would inevitably find its way to my overstuffed jewelry box.

These days my style is (thankfully) a little more subdued, but my love of all things shiny and pretty is alive and well. So, for this giveaway I thought it would be fun to "spread the bling."

This is a sterling silver pendant on an 18" box chain, set with a blue topaz. I have a similar necklace that I wear almost daily. It looks just as good with jeans as it does with dresses. It would make a great gift for yourself or someone you love.

For a chance to win this pendant, simply leave a comment on this post by 10 p.m. on Friday, April 25th. One comment per person please (duplicates will be deleted). You do NOT have to have a blog to play along, but please provide a valid email address where I can contact you. I'm willing to ship internationally, but I'm not sure how the duty and taxes will work on your end. (If you're willing to handle that part, please feel free to enter.) I will randomly draw a winner and notify you via email over the weekend.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck! Oh, and don't forget to check out all the other fantastic prizes up for grabs this week as part of the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Artwork

I’ve had a blank canvas sitting in my craft room forever. Well, not really forever. Just since Christmas. It was supposed to be a decoupage project featuring my children’s artwork. I was going to give it to my husband as a Christmas gift that would brighten up the barren walls of his office. But, Christmas was busy. I think I’ve mentioned, a few thousand times, I got the flu. So, my craftiness took a backseat to my feeling like I was going to die. And, I realized that most of the kids’ artwork was done in marker, which will run if you spread decoupage glue over the top of it. Details.

So, I’ve been stuck with this canvas and absolutely no idea what to do with it. I did recall seeing a few of those “create your own” artwork projects on HGTV, but I never paid close attention to them. I didn't trust myself to tackle a project like that -- I am no artist. If I do anything crafty (scrapbooking included here), I need an example or a guide. Thus, I was thrilled when BooMama referenced this post of hers from a while back. It was just the inspiration I needed.

So, without further ado, I present my first (and most likely, only) art installation. I call it – "My Husband Loves Me Enough to Stare at This All Day."

Now, you may have noticed that the project grew from one canvas to three. That's because the first canvas was painted from a horizontal perspective, but actually looked better hung vertical. That left more space to fill, so I purchased two more canvases to make a triptych (Notice how I sling around the art jargon with such ease? Obviously, I was becoming overly confident in my artistic abilities). So really, all three are supposed to go together, with the tree one in the middle. But, it turned out the wall wasn't as big as it seemed in my mind. So we split 'em up.

They won't win any awards, but it was a fun project to do. And for a cost of about $12 a picture (that's three poster-size painted canvases), my husband does not have to stare at blank walls all day.

Of course, he may really prefer the blank walls. But he's sweet enough to indulge me in my Jackson Pollock moment. Just one of the many reasons I love that man.

Why I'll Never Use the Term "Relatively Healthy" Again

Josh's temperature as of 6:30 p.m. -- 102.4

That's about all I have to say about that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What to Wear on an Airplane

My parents are leaving next Thursday on a two-week European vacation. My mom has been very busy of late, running around doing all the things you do before a trip like that, including purchasing some new clothing for occassion. I was on the phone with her yesterday and we were discussing her recent purchases. The conversation went something like this:

"I got this great raincoat for 75% off. And, I also picked up a black sweat suit for the flight."
"I'm sorry, you picked up a what for the flight?"
"A black sweat suit."
"You're not really going to wear that on the plane, are you?"
"Michelle, it's a 10-hour flight."

Now, I love my mom. She has excellent taste, but I've got to take this opportunity to espouse my opinion on travel attire. If you board a plane in anything vaugely resembling pajamas, you have crossed the line, my friend. Sweat suits (even the ones especially the ones with "juicy" emblazoned across the bottom) are never appropriate in-flight attire.

Now, lest you go thinking that comfort is not a priority for me, there are plenty of comfortable travel options that will have you looking well-rested and put together upon landing. Not to mention the fact that you stand a much better chance of being upgraded to first class when you wear something a little more polished versus something that looks like you just rolled out of bed.

If you are fortunate enough to have an upcoming trip planned, here's what I would suggest:

* Consider fabrics that have a little stretch in them. The "stretch" is for comfort, while also ensuring you don't look like a wrinkled mess when you arrive wherever you're going. Trouser jeans in a dark wash with a hint of lycra would be perfect here. These are from J. Crew:

* Think layers -- Airplanes are notorious for wide temperature shifts. Start with a comfortable basic tee. Target always has some great options, like this:

* Top the t-shirt with a bright-colored cardigan. The cardigan is a great layer because it's lightweight. You can easily stash it in your carry-on bag if you don't need it or even use it as a pillow in a pinch. Here's another Target option:

* Wear flat, comfortable slip-on shoes. Note that I did not say flip-flops. Flip flops are not going to do you any favors in an emergency situation. And, if you have my luck, your gate will always be the one furthest from baggage claim. That usually means you're in for a bit of a hike.

* If you're looking to invest in a new wardrobe piece for your trip, consider investing in an a pashmina. You don't have to go super expensive, but for about $60, you'll have a quality piece that will work as a scarf, a shawl, or a blanket (do you really want to use the airline issued blankets, anyway?) If you have kids, you can get something similar in a more washable fabric.

* Depending on the weather when you land, you'll want to bring a coat. A short trench like this one would also be a good investment that you could wear regularly, even after you return home.

* Finally, carry all your in-flight essentials in a great bag. Here's another winner from Tar-jay. You gotta love that store.

There you have it. Those are my tips for stylish travel. Now go ask for that upgrade.
For more Fight the Frump tips, head on over to Fussy's place!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Reading

"Just the knowledge that a good book
is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier."
Kathleen Norris

One of the unexpected benefits of the recent writer's strike was that I turned off the TV. I think it was after I finished watching "Rock of Love" one evening (and trying to shake the disturbing feeling that I now needed a shower) that I finally came to the realization that perhaps my time could be better spent elsewhere.

I love to read. But for some reason, it was always hard to motivate myself to do it. It was just easier to collapse into the couch, pick up the remote and shut my brain off.

When I fell sick with the flu back in December, I caught a spot on the local news about a website called Paperback Swap -- where people were freely exchanging gently-used books. I'm all about free books -- so I logged on and signed up. I've received 10 books to date, mailed out about 10 of my own, and have several more books on my waiting list.

Books I've read recently include The Other Boleyn Girl (very good), some great non-fiction on Tudor England (not the lightest reading, but really interesting nonetheless), The Kite Runner (terrific), and Peace Like a River (some of the best writing I've read in a while). I attempted Atonement by Ian McEwan, but I couldn't get into it. Slogging through it felt like a chore and, at the end of the day, I didn't have the energy for it. I'll rent the movie.

As spring approaches, my bedside table is growing crowded with more books waiting to be read. I have a couple fiction works in the pile, including The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Supposedly, Setterfield wrote it with a nod to Bronte and du Maurier, two of my favorite authors. (If you've never read Rebecca, you need to.) I've started reading It's a Boy: Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18, which is offering some great insight into what makes my son "tick" and how best to parent him. I've been wanting to read Kevin Leman's Birth Order Book for over a year now and if I can squeeze in Donna Otto's How to Get More Done in Less Time, I may be able to finish even more books before summer hits ;)

So, what's on your spring reading list? What books have you heard people raving about? What have you read lately that you've absolutely loved or hated?

Help Hauling Groceries

Grocery shopping. It's the unending chore.

You make your list.
You drive to the store.
You shop for your groceries.
You pack in them in bags.
You load the bags in the car.
You drive home.
You unload the bags.
Unload more bags.
Unload more bags.
You unpack the bags.
You put the items away.

The process, it takes a while. I haven't found anything that will do the job for you (unless maybe your husband is willing -- in which case, I envy you), but I have found something that makes the bag hauling a little easier:

When I first saw these for sale at our grocery store, I didn't think much of it. I mean, I'm no die-hard environmentalist. Don't get me wrong, we do what we can to save the earth. We recycle. We try to eat organic. But I don't drive a hybrid car. I'm not a vegetarian. My children use disposable diapers. Bringing my own bags to the grocery store always felt like it would be more work.

But, I noticed my friends were starting to use these bags. A shameless follower, I bought four bags for $0.99 a piece and thought I'd give it a try.

I'm in love.

These bags hold two to three times the amount of your average plastic grocery bag. That means less trips back and forth unloading groceries. What's more, they have long handles, so I can haul heavier bags by slinging them onto my shoulder, instead of feeling like my biceps are going to explode. The bags also come in handy for toting various kid items to the park. The only drawback is that they do not efficiently tote kids. Ah, how I jest!

Anywho -- it's a simple change that makes your life easier while helping out the earth in the process.

For more tips, go over and check out the growing list at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Famous Last Words

Remember when I posted last week about the kids having been "relatively healthy" this winter? Remember my hesitancy in even writing such an audacious claim? I believe my exact words were:

"In fact, for the last six weeks, the kids have been eerily healthy. I've been incredibly grateful for this, scared to mention this fact to anyone lest it cause the situation to change, and in the back of my mind, waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Well, the wait is over. The other shoe has officially "dropped." Grace came down with the her first full-fledged cold on Sunday. I wasn't overly concerned, in fact I was pretty impressed that Grace had made it 10 months without a single sick visit to the doctor. But Sunday night... was a little rough. Last night was even rougher. This morning, she "woke" (I use the term loosely, as she barely slept the whole night) with a fever of 101.

I took her to the doctor this morning. Diagnosis? A cold, that's gone into bronchitis. A double ear infection, worse in the left ear than in the right. She managed to contract the molluscum that our family has been battling for two years now. Oh, and by the way, she's teething.

When the doctor came in with a handful of prescriptions and started going through the instructions, I actually started laughing. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I've never had so much medication flung at me in one doctor's visit: Motrin for teething pain, fever and ear discomfort. Ear numbing drops for pain. Amoxicillin for ears and chest. Expectorant to loosen the gunk in her chest. Benzoyl peroxide applied to molluscum as needed. Was there going to be a test on this? Mercifully, he wrote it all down.

My mom watched Josh while I took Grace to the doctor, allowing me to avoid exposing him to the germ-filled petri dish, otherwise known as the "Sick Child Waiting Room." Upon my arrival back at mom's, I asked Josh to please go use the potty. A few minutes later, the sound of something falling and breaking glass. Josh had managed to fall off of the stool and crash his head into my mom's ceramic wastebasket, which lay shattered on the floor. His injury -- an impressive-looking gash above the ear.

I called my husband at work to ask his thoughts about stitches -- not that he could really help with the decision. I was the one staring at the head wound, after all. But, after a short discussion, which included a recap of Josh's November ER visit for another head gash, we agreed that stitches probably wouldn't be possible in this case.

And, if I forgot to mention it, Jillian is nursing a wicked head cold and still getting drops to treat last week's pink eye.

"Relatively healthy," did I say?

Clearly, those words are now dripping with irony.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What's for Dinner This Week

Last week went pretty much according to plan, I just have one roll-over meal -- the Enchiladas Suizas, which is delicious by the way! The Brown and Wild Rice Chicken Salad is a brand-new recipe. If it turns out as good as it sounds, I'll post the recipe next week. Here's what we'll be serving:

Monday: Goat Cheese, Artichoke & Chicken Pizza (recipe follows), cheese pizza (for kids) , salad, fruit
Tuesday: Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken (hat tip to mom_of2boys), corn, green beans
Wednesday: Chicken Parm Meatball Subs, oven fries, peas
Thursday: Brown and Wild Rice Chicken Salad
Friday: Ravioli with Sausage, salad, fruit
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Enchiladas Suizas with Turkey (I use chicken), green beans

(If you're looking for an easy downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)

For more menu planning ideas, don't forget to head over to orgjunkie.com.

Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Chicken Pizza

4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup nonfat ricotta
1 whole-wheat pizza crust (12 inches)
1 cup thinly sliced, skinless roasted chicken
1 cup drained and rinsed canned artichoke hearts, halved
2 large plum tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tbsp fresh oregano

Heat oven to 450°. Mix goat cheese and ricotta in a bowl; spread overpizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with chicken, artichokesand tomatoes; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until Parmesan is golden,8 to 10 minutes. Top with oregano and serve.

388 calories per serving, 13.2 g fat (7.3 g saturated),41.2 g carbs, 7.7 g fiber, 29.7 g protein

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Perhaps they should have tried sending an email...

Jillian: Who was on the phone?

Me: A telemarketer.

Jillian: Oh. Don't answer it.

Me: That's right. We're not interested. We don't buy things over the telephone.

Jillian: We buy stuff off the computer!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tackling the Hidden Frump

Have you ever noticed how we spend a good chunk of time dressing for people we don't know that well or don't see regularly? Maybe it's just me, but (for the most part) when I go to the grocery store, I try to look relatively put together. When I go to Bible study, I make sure I put on a little makeup, wear a nice outfit, whatever.

But today, I'm going to talk about the frump we expose our dearest loved ones to every day. Your spouse. Your kids. Your good friend who picks up your child for school every morning. Your cat. You might call it the "hidden" frump -- our pajamas and loungewear.

I hear the groans. I know what you're thinking. I am not proposing that we need to get all spiffed up just to kick around the house. I am not proposing that you don some uncomfortable evening wear just for the sake of looking good. But what do your pajamas look like? Do they flatter you? We spend all this time wondering if our daily clothes "work" for us and then don't give a second thought to the clothing the most imporant people in our life see us in every day.

Now, here's a confession. I have not been wearing flattering pajamas as of late. My excuse has been that it's chilly in the morning and I just want to be warm. I have been wearing a velour lounge suit that was bought for my grandmother. Oh, yes. You read that right. For those of you wondering, I'm 33.

Fortunately, Mother's Day is just around the corner. Every Mother's Day my sister and I exchange gifts and it's always the same each year -- a new pair of stylish p.j.s. (Somehow, I fell off the wagon with last year's stylish selection and switched to the velour number. But look out, ladies -- I'm turning over a new leaf!). I'm convinced that it is possible to be comfortable and still wear something that would make my huband think, "Wow, look at the beautiful woman I married." Even at 7 a.m.

There are a lot of pajama sets on sale at the moment. I did a little browsing and look what I found...

This set would be great for my sister:

I love this one:

Look at this pair:

And another option:

Frump Fighters, it's time for a pajama upgrade. Consider it a gift to the people you love.

For more frump-fighting tips, head on over to Fussy's place.

And to think, I thought I had nothing to write about today...

Our family has been -- dare I say it? -- relatively healthy this winter. I know some have been hit hard with ailments of every kind. We had a run with the flu back in December and that was miserable. Josh had roseola in January. But, other than those few instances and a couple stray colds, we haven't been doing too badly. In fact, for the last six weeks, the kids have been eerily healthy. I've been incredibly grateful for this, scared to mention this fact to anyone lest it cause the situation to change, and in the back of my mind, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Jillian's teacher called this morning.
Could you come pick Jilly up?
One eye is looking "smaller" than the other.
It's a little goopy.
A little red.
We think it might be pink eye.

Now while we've managed to avoid a lot of rampant viral infections, this will be the fifth case of pink eye we've had this winter. That's got to be a record. Prior to today, Jilly has had two cases of pink eye. I had the other two cases. One of my infections came in conjunction with the flu (boy, was I looking pretty then), the other just because I touch my eyes. A lot.

Pink eye is definitely not the worst thing in the world -- I'll take it over a stomach virus any day. But, we're back to doing eye drops three times a day, Purell-ing our hands like crazy, and praying that no one else gets it (particularly Josh, because he's just DRAMA when it comes to medication -- I'm sure eyedrops would just be a treat).

And...because I've become somewhat of a professional with regard to eyedrop administration (ironic, isn't it Lori?), I'll post a few tips for those of you who have not yet had the enviable job of giving eye drops to a preschooler:

I always have my daughter lay down on her back, with her head in my lap. Drop the liquid into the inside corner of her eye and turn her head slightly so the drop rolls into the eye. Or, if you are able to pull the inside corner of her eye down a little to make a pocket, you could attempt to drop the liquid in that way. Make sure you have a tissue handy to wipe up any misses. You'll also want to have your child keep her eye closed for a few seconds after you get the drop in.

So, there you have it -- always happy to help.

By the way, my eyes are fine for the time being. But I'll tell you, purposely trying not to touch them makes me want to touch them all the more. Every now and then I'll swear my vision is getting cloudy or my eye is a little itchy.

The power of suggestion. It's a crazy thing.

If only it were that easy...

"Daddy, do you have to go to work?"



"I've got to go make the donuts."

"But there are donuts at Publix."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Treasure Drawer

My 5-year-old daughter Jillian is a bit of a pack rat. A sparkly Easter egg. An old birthday card. A party trinket. A sparkly rock found on a walk. All of these things hold some significance to her. In her mind, these items must be kept and preserved for years to come.

Now, I think I do a fairly good job of keeping the kids' toys under control, but these small treasures were creating a big problem. I found them all over the house. There was never a good place to put all of these odds and ends. And, because there was no set place to put them, inevitably a few of these "treasures" would be misplaced. Predictably, meltdown would ensue.

About a year ago, I came across an idea submitted to a parenting magazine. It suggested creating a drawer as a place for your child to store special items. So, I cleared out a drawer in her dresser and declared it her "Treasure Drawer."

It has worked beautifully. Jillian finally has a place where she can store all of the miscellaneous items she collects. It's also an ideal place for her to store things she might want to keep out of reach of other siblings. Every couple months, Jillian and I go through the drawer together. She decides what she'd like to keep and what she's willing to part with.

It's a simple solution that makes clean up easier, keeps the house neater and keeps everyone happy.

For more great ideas, head on over to Shannon's place.

The Gift

"Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons."
Ruth Ann Schabacker

It’s 8:30 and I’m late putting the kids to bed, as usual. We read a story. We say prayers. I shuttle Josh off to bed, answering his myriad of nightly questions concerning the time at which he can get up. I walk back into Jillian’s room to tuck her in.

“I love you,” I say, giving her a hug and kiss.
“I love you, too” she answers back.
I switch off the light.
“Mommy, do you have time to snuggle me?”

It’s a request that comes nearly every night these days. When she first posed the question a few weeks ago, I immediately envisioned the pile of dishes in the kitchen. I recalled the mountain of laundry needing to be switched from the washer to the dryer. I pictured the myriad of toys strewn throughout the house. I had so much to do before I could go to bed. I was so tired. But I looked into Jilly’s pleading eyes – I saw the hope and expectation on her face. And I found myself saying, “Yes.”

I climb into bed next to her and snuggle her in my arms. I watch her chest rise and fall rhythmically. She lays there silently, her brown eyes darting about the dimly lit room.

“What are you thinking about?” I ask.
A smile creeps across her face. “Barbie Island Princess.”
I smile too.

It’s funny the things that go through a 5-year-old girl’s mind -- thoughts fly fast and furiously before sleep settles in. Barbie. Fairies. School. Friends.

“Mommy, Nathan said mean things to Lindsay today,” she whispers.
“Oh? What did he say?”
“I don’t remember exactly. But I told Lindsay beautiful secrets to make her feel better.”
“What kind of beautiful secrets?” I ask.
“I said, ‘Lindsay, you are my princess.’”
“Jilly, that was very sweet of you. You did a good thing, comforting your friend like that. Did it make her feel better?”
“I think so.”

It’s in these moments, laying here with her, that I sometimes feel I get to know my daughter the best. It’s in these moments that she shares things with me she rarely has the opportunity to share amidst the chaos of the day. In these moments, there is no baby to be fed. There is no little brother competing for my attention. There is no telephone call to pull me away. I am 100% focused on her.

Jilly turns to face me and grabs my hand, bringing it up to her cheek. She closes her eyes. I lay there staring at the face of my baby girl. At five years old, most of the baby is gone now. But in these moments, as she flirts with sleep, her hand grasping mine and her teddy bear tucked under her arm, I see glimmers of the helpless infant she once was.

"I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you, too.”

I've come to see this time with Jilly as a gift -- one of several gifts that I'm convinced God offers to me each day. Trouble is, I'm oblivious to half of them. I'm too busy making dinner. I'm too preoccupied with scheduling a playdate. I've got to go fold laundry.
But these gifts won't be offered to me forever. Every day, Jillian needs me less and less. She can wash her own hands. She can pour her own drink. She can fasten her own seatbelt. In a few years, her schedule will become crowded with schoolwork, sports, activities and friends. The tables will no doubt suddenly turn and I’ll be the one left asking, “Jilly, do you have time…”
So for now, I forget the dishes. The laundry can wait. The toys will only be taken out again tomorrow. In this moment, I choose to put everything else on hold and receive the gift being offered to me. In this moment, I will untie the ribbon, open the box and savor what has been so freely given -- time with my daughter. Time to know her and understand her. Time to be her mother and her friend.

In a continuing effort to cover the important things...

I'm over at Chic Critique today talking about THE BEST drugstore mascara. C'mon, you know you're curious. Head on over and check it out!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What's for Dinner This Week...

Well, being that last week was Spring Break for the kiddos, we weren't home as much in the evenings, so I have three carry-over meals for this week. Last week's Bourbon Chicken was delicious! Very much like something you'd get in a Chinese restaurant (definitely use a low-sodium soy sauce, though). The leftovers were even better -- I rolled the chicken and rice up with lettuce and carrots in wrap for lunch. Here's this week's menu:

Monday: Sweet Balls of Fire, salad, brown rice
Tuesday: Chicken salad on lettuce with poppyseed dressing
Wednesday: Turkey meatloaf, oven fries, peas
Thursday: Creamy Sausage-Tomato Pasta (recipe follows), salad, fruit
Friday: Thai Chicken Wraps, brown rice, edamame
Saturday: Enchiladas Suizas with Turkey (I use chicken), green beans
Sunday: Beef taquitos with salsa and sour cream, salad and fruit

(If you're looking for an easy downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)

For more menu planning ideas, don't forget to head over to orgjunkie.com.

Creamy Sausage-Tomato Pasta
Serves 6
I'm going to warn you -- this is probably one of the most calorie-laden meals I make. BUT...it is really good!!! I have tried to keep it a little lighter by using turkey sausage and decreasing the half-and-half to a little less than 1 cup. The changes don't affect the final taste too much, although naturally more half-and-half puts it over the moon! It makes a decent amount, so often, I'll serve 1/2 for dinner and put the other half in an 8"x8" disposable pan to freeze. I'm posting this recipe in its original form. It is taken from Better Homes and Gardens Menus in Minutes.

12 ounces dried gemelli or rotini
1 pound bulk sweet or hot Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or light cream
3 Tbs. finely snipped fresh basil
Finely shredded Romano cheese (optional)
1. In a large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a large skillet cook the sausage, onion, red pepper and garlic over medium heat until sausage is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat.

2. Stir the undrained tomatoes into the sausage mixture. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the half-and-half. Simmer about 4 minutes more or until sauce thickens slightly.

3. Drain pasta; return to saucepan. Add sauce to pasta; toss lightly to coat. Sprinkle with basil. If desired, sprinkle with Romano cheese.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Worth the Read...

A few interesting things I read on the 'net this week:

Hands Only CPR -- CBS News

Geneva Hosts Huge Inventions Fair -- Yahoo. I'm sold on the self-making bed, but I think I'll hold off on the nose hair.

Easier Finger Foods -- Life's Not a Paragraph. Can I tell you how much aggravation this saved me this week? It's brilliant.

Wal-Mart Has Gone Soft -- This Ain't New York. This cracked me up! The characterization is dead on.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Baring My Sole...

After I hit a certain age, I began noticing that my feet were not staying as soft and supple as they had been in the halcyon days of my youth. I remember looking down toward my toes one morning and thinking, "When did that happen?" The skin was dry. My heels were cracked. My feet looked old.

So, I did what I'm assuming most people do -- I went on with my life. I mean, I have kids. I don't have time for weekly pedicures and -- if I'm going to spend the money for a pedicure it will be at the height of summer when everyone else can enjoy it too, thankyouverymuch.

A few weeks ago, however, my husband said, "Wow. Your feet are really dry." This is when I knew the foot situation was serious. My husband never notices things like that, so clearly, I had a problem. I started digging under my bathroom sink and pulled out an unopened jar of Bath and Body Works Heel of Approval lotion that had been given to me a year ago as a hint gift. I began slathering it on my feet every night before bed and then putting on a pair of cotton socks while I slept. After doing that for a couple weeks, I began to see results. The cracked, dry heels were gone. My feet felt softer. They looked great.

Now, if you're planning on giving this "Fight the Frump" tip a try, you don't need to use the particular brand I did. But, you do need to use a lotion that has an alpha hydroxy acid in it, such as lactic acid or glycolic acid, which will really help get rid of the dry skin.

Once your feet are back to looking fabulous, go ahead and paint your toenails a crazy new color. I always go for a pale pink, but while cruising the aisles of CVS the other night, I stumbled upon this:

That's Wet n' Wild "Deep Wine" -- and a flying leap out of my comfort zone. But I bought it, went home and painted my toenails. And I must say, the results have me feeling decidedly un-frumpy -- even a little sassy -- these days.

For more Fight the Frump Tips, head on over to Fussy's place!

If you're looking to kill some time...

80 words

Speed test

I saw this at Kisses of Sunshine and thought it would be fun to try. I haven't taken a typing test since junior high -- the pressure! :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Please let me know when we get to the "break" part...

Oxymoron, noun: a rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined.

Jumbo shrimp.

Deafening silence.

Spring break.

How's the week been going? This morning, while packing my husband's lunch, I found myself indadvertently cutting his sandwich into small squares and triangles.

Obviously, the first stage of Spring Break dementia is setting in.

I've been running around like a harried cruise ship director for the last few days, trying to entertain and keep the troops happy, which, quite honestly, is a whole lot more work than when we're not on "break." Not to mention the fact that the house looks like a bomb hit it.

After a weekend of rain, Monday morning rolled around with -- more rain. The kids were climbing the walls. So, we took a road trip to a local toy store, which resulted in me leaving my digital camera behind. (Why did I even have it out? I was taking a picture of Josh who looked so cute with a play helmet and sword. I'd love to share it with you but, I don't have my camera). Fortunately, someone did turn the camera in to the shop owner shortly after I left. Otherwise, the two placemats I purchased, featuring maps of the United States and the World would have cost about $150. Each. That would have been a pricey geography lesson.

Tuesday hit and -- Praise God! -- we got a call from a friend who was just as desperate for activity as we were. She rented out one of those play areas that has multiple inflatable bounce houses and slides. It was only $50 an hour to rent the place out. Everyone chipped in and it came out to $10 a family for an hour and a half of play time. That was the deal of the century. (Heck, I was so desperate, I would have paid $50 for just my kids). We had a blast and the kids finally got to burn off a little steam.

Today, it's warm and sunny -- so we're going to head to the park for a picnic and we may even tackle bowling on Friday. Yes, Spring Break is a thrill a minute here and clearly there will be no rest for the weary.

Which brings to mind another oxymoron:

Working vacation.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Taming the Science Projects in Your Fridge

It's the "Greatest Hits Edition" of WFMW, where everyone re-runs a helpful tip they posted in the past. Seeing as how I've only run one WFMW tip prior to today, I thought I'd offer up the following instead:

Cleaning out the refrigerator. Not a task that I enjoy, per se, but one that needs to be done on a somewhat regular basis. In the past, my "clean out" approach was to put all items to the "Look and Smell Test," -- was the item growing mold or did it smell bad? If either answer was yes, into the trash it went. But, I soon discovered there were many partially-used items that had been in my refrigerator for a while, but didn't show the slightest fuzzy growth or emit the faintest foul aroma.

Salsa, comes to mind.

As does spaghetti sauce.


Baby food.

Chicken broth.

How long had those things been in there? Were they safe to eat?

To help me decide, I started using a permanent marker and writing the month and date I opened the item on the lid. Having some idea of when the item was initially opened makes it easier to decide if a) it's still edible or b) I'm just entertaining a case of food poisioning.

For more great tips, head on over to Shannon's place!