The Barrel: Blogging Reviews January 2011

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blogging reviews did you know it’s



PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS for the new year


that’s just funny

one stor y of


really. legit. not made up or anything like that.



COOKING WITH THE DOMESTIC DAME: yummy & simple recipes



find out why Barbara doesn’t like






Looking at infertility from a different perspective has helped Kelly & her husband deal with their trials and loss.



The Domestic Dame has some tastebud tingling recipes to try out for the new year.



More than just clearing her throat, Elesa will have you rolling in the aisles (quick, go find an open aisle).

ON THE COVER: National Oatmeal Month - 11 Photography Tips - 13 AHEM - 29 Cooking with The Domestic Dame - 19 Blind Dates - 16 One Story of Infertility - 6 Mothers Matter - 17 Potty Talk - 42 Stylish Resolutions - 27


NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: We’re go i n g t o p a r t y l i ke i t ’s 1 9 9 9 ! Maybe the world really ended on January 1, 2000 and we’re just ghosts walking around not realizing that we’re all dead? Or we could be aliens. Either way you should read our magazine this month, because it’s a proven fact that ghosts and aliens love blogs. And so do we. See, we’re a match made in 2011. Man, aren’t you glad you read this note? So worth it. At least it was more fun than breaking new year resolutions or watching “Days of Our Lives”. (We ARE more interesting than a Soap Opera, I know it. However, there’s no chance we could ever distract anyone from Oprah.)

x o x o, Melissa &


MAGAZINE CREDITS: Executive Editor: Michelle Laird Editorial Director: Melissa Bastow Photographic Supreme Genius of all Time: Marissa Vargason Fashion Expert Extraordinaire: Abby Lomento Singles Section Specialist: Barbara Managing Supreme Director of all Things Zebra Print: Michelle Laird Got Ankle Weights for Christmas (& wearing them right now): Melissa Bastow Ultimate Quasi-Date Setup Artist: Barbara Master of the Universe: Melissa Bastow



Great Give Aways A list of blogs you can visit to win some fab give aways.


Super Singles Section - Why I Don’t Like Blind Dates Don’t ever set up a blind date for Barbara, they’re just not a good idea.


Charity of the Month - Mothers Matter Women are unnecessarily dying from childbirth all over the globe - find out how to save lives.


New Year Resolutions...Who Needs ‘Em? Unless they’re funny, of course. And then go ahead and make a few.


Photography 101 - Resolve to Take More Pictures Expert advice from Marissa on how to better document life.


Tips from a Real House Wife Tips on keeping your new year resolutions.


Sew That - Fabric Bows Fabric bows are versatile and OH SO EASY to make.


Abby’s Fab Five - Resolutions for a Stylish Girl Small changes can have you looking fabulous in the new year.


Totally Legit Horoscopes These are really real. I swear. It’s not like I just made them up or anything.


Blog Designs of the Month Some of our favorite blog designs by our favorite designers.


Potty Talk - Rachel Sue Dating and diarrhea - you won’t want to miss this. From the Archives of... - Alison Wonderland Mom, Dad, Please Don’t Read This Post



Visit our Sponsors Because I said so. Plus, they’re awesome.


National Oatmeal Month It’s true - oatmeal is important.


organically growing your online neighborhood

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Would you like to have your blog listed in next month’s Give Away section? Email: for details.

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Infertility ONE STORY OF

Every infertility story is different, and everyone copes in their own way. Looking at infertility from a different perpesctive has helped Kelly and her husband deal with their trials and loss. Their story is truly inspirational. by Michelle Laird

Kelly blogs regularly at:

You can support Kelly & Will’s adoption blog by going to:

Photo courtesy of Kelly.


Kelly shared her story with us. It’s best told in her words: First and foremost, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story. I feel that through sharing and listening that there can be healing from the pain that is infertility. My story is rather odd. I like to say that I am not a in a “cookie cutter” shape at all. Just be aware of this as you read and think to yourself really? …ya really :) My story begins when I was 18 years old. I was gaining weight and I wanted to go on a diet. I did lose weight but it was everywhere else but my stomach, which I didn’t understand. It was the December before my 19th birthday. I went to get a massage. I was lying on my stomach and as the woman started to work on my lower back, I started to feel a terrible pain in my lower abdomen. She advised me to see a doctor immediately because that was not normal. I made a doctor appointment with my primary care physician because to wait for an ob/gyn would take months. I had an exam done and the doctor informed me that my uterus was enlarged. He asked me if I was pregnant. (p.s. my mom was in the room) I told him there was no possibility. He asked again. He said, “Are you sure you just don’t want your mom to know?” I said again that it was not possible. He asked me a third time, this time having my mother leave the room. At this point I was angry and I said, “Unless my name is Mary, and I missed the angel, there is NO POSSIBLE way I am pregnant.” The doctor still ordered a blood pregnancy test. ....idiot...

“You are going to lose at least ten pounds.” I thought to myself, ‘Heck yes! What I have wanted!’ “Bad news is you are going to lose an ovary.”

I got a call a few days later saying it was negative, I thought Thanks Sherlock really? I was scheduled for an ultrasound 2 weeks later. I went to the ultrasound appointment the first week in January. As I looked at the computer screen while she did the ultrasound, I did not understand the big blackness she was measuring, but my mother did. The doctor came in. He said, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” I said, “The good news of course!” He continued, “You are going to lose at least ten pounds.” I thought to myself, ‘Heck yes! What I have wanted!’ He kept going, “Bad news is you are going to lose an ovary.” What! Okay, at this point I really did not get it or how the two were even connected. He continued to tell me that I had a ten pound cyst that had formed on my ovary over a long period of time. The cyst had destroyed my ovary and any semblance of it remaining in my body. Ten pounds! I about died! I asked if I would still be able to have children and he said yes that it would be similar to how the eye compensates for one that is missing, the other will take on the work for the one lost.


Photo courtesy of Kelly.

This was in the first month I dated my husband. This is when I fell in love with him. He spent as much time with me as he could, he lifted me up when I couldn’t lift myself. He carried me when I couldn’t walk and he held my hand through the pain and tears. He told me I was beautiful with the scar and the staples. He still tells me the scar NEVER bothers him, even though it bothers me. We were married in June of the same year and 6 months into our marriage went off birth control. I gained 40 pounds in 6 months. It was out of control. I was later diagnosed with PCOS(polycystic ovarian syndrome) on my remaining ovary, which basically means I do not ovulate. My hormones are off. I was put on a drug called Metformin and it made me vomit for 8 months before I got used to it. They put me back on birth control for a short while to regulate my cycle. In 2007, I started Clomid, a drug that stimulates the ovaries, for the first time. After 4 months of trying, we got pregnant with our first baby. At my 9 week ultrasound the baby hadn’t grown past 6 weeks and there was no heart beat. I was devastated. My body showed no signs of miscarriage. The doctor gave me a terrible pill that made me lose our baby the next day. I had never felt so sad in my life. Also, I had never had so much pain. The medication’s role was to make the uterus contract and it did just that. After picking up the pieces of my broken heart and all the other things that sadness broke, we got back on Clomid in December of 2008. This time pregnancy came faster, I found out I was pregnant the first week in February. My doctor put me on progesterone tablets and did blood work and found that I had a thyroid problem, to add to it all. Weekly ultrasounds were recommended by my doctor. Week 6 got a heartbeat, so did week 7, so did week 8. Then week 9, I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, week 9 no heart beat. Again, I was heartbroken. My husband held me as I fell apart in the doctor’s office. This time I had a d&c, much easier physically yet the same emotionally.


After this, I became very contemplative. I knew I had 3 options:

1. Infertility Treatments 2. Adoption 3. Not have kids

Number 3 was not an option actually. I decided at that point that I could and would not continue to give my happiness away to infertility. I prayed and prayed for comfort to find me. It hadn’t for 4 years. I needed it. I wanted it. I pleaded for it. Then it came: A d o p t i o n . That was my answer. I knew that would be the right path. I almost immediately felt the most amazing amount of freedom. I talked with my husband and he was so on board with adopting. I have a strong belief in the power of adoption. I have met so many people since we have opened up to the option. It has blessed so many lives. It, however, has not blessed ours yet. We have had 2 failed adoption placements. It seems that the adoption journey was just as hard for us. So here we are, we still do not have children and we are coming up on our 7 year anniversary. I look back on it all and I think about how I even made it through some of those hard times. I remember how, and it really is only because of The Lord, my husband, and my family. Those are my blessings. I am grateful for them. My husband and I are to a point where we know that we can only do so much. We have accepted that it may even be longer that we must wait to have kids and that is okay. We are grateful for the time we have had just him and I. We are grateful that we can even get pregnant. We are going to try again soon. We recently moved to Charleston, SC where one of the top infertility clinics in the nation is located. They just helped my sister get pregnant using IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). Mostly, I am content in blogging and finding ways to help others with infertility. It brings me joy to help someone along their journey, to see them smile in the midst of the pain, and mostly to make a new friend that I didn’t have before. Sometimes life can bring us immense sadness but if we take an extra moment and look at it from a different perspective, life can bring us immense happiness. I try to keep that in mind as I keep working to kick infertility’s trash.


Photo courtesy of Kelly.

C o oki n g, la und r y, carpet shampooing, di s h e s, wi n do ws, s c r u bbi n g be h i n d y ou r t o i le ts with a n old rat t y t oot hbrush - - s o m e t i m e s i t al l j u s t s e e m s l i ke TO O TOO M UCH.

We feel your pain, we k n o w yo u r wo e s, we s h ar e yo u r

h ou se ke e ping frus t rat ions. So t ake it easy f o r a m i n u t e an d t ake s o m e advi c e, on u s. He re y o u have it :


I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season! Now its time to get our butts in gear for all those new year resolutions, whether you want to shed a few of those holiday pounds, learn a new hobby, become a dog food tester, get organized, be punctual, attempt crocodile wrangling, or if you hate New Year resolutions because you know you’re going to break them on day 3 anyway, maybe I can give you a few tips. •Get yourself on a daily or weekly routine whether it is cleaning, cooking, exercising, eating healthy or whatever and do it consistently for 21days. It takes 21 days to form a habit. •Is housecleaning a goal? Pull out a pencil eraser and rub the grout. If it is dirty on the surface (due to some wild Christmas party) this should do the trick. •If you want to clean your burner but don’t want to scrub for hours upon hours, put them in a zip lock bag with ammonia. Let it sit all night and then rinse. Viola, clean burners. (But keep this away from the kids and pets!) •Do you hate dusting your fake houseplants? Free up some time for your other (cooler) resolutions by spraying hair spray on the fake leaves. It keeps dust off them for longer periods of time. •Maybe this is the year you decide to declutter your house. Don’t be afraid to donate things, have a yard sale, or sell things on Craigslist. Just don’t become a hoarder. •If you do deep cleaning once a week you’ll get a workout and a clean house - two goals in one. •Attempting crocodile wrangling probably isn’t the best use of your time.

This is my new favorite tip to pass along to you: •If you cook or bake in kitchen, you have splattered on your walls or back splash at least once. (In my case, about a million times.) Put cornstarch on a moist towel then rub your wall in a clockwise motion until everything disappears. The cornstarch will absorb the grease on the wall, which is what makes everything else stick there in the first place.

Follow our tips and you’re guaranteed not to fail with your resolutions this year! (At least not until day 22...)


by Melissa Bastow

national month It’s true! January is National Oatmeal Month. I mean, honestly, what else would it be? National Something Important Month? Nope. Oatmeal. But let’s not poo-poo oatmeal too much, because it can really do wonders with exfoliation as well as empty bellies....just, please, not at the same time with the same oatmeal. Here are a few suggestions on how you can kick off the oatmeal celebrations: • More oatmeal is consumed in January in the U.S. than any other time of the year. • Eating oatmeal can lower blood cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease, not to mention keep your blood-glucose levels stable while it slowly digests in your gut. •Adding oatmeal to meatloaf or meatballs will help food hold it’s shape. •An oatmeal scrub is a natural way to get rid of dead skin cells and exfoliate your face. •Also it helps soothe itchy rashes. •Your dog would love an oatmeal shampoo - you know he would, he’s practically begging you to smear oatmeal on him. •You can make OATMEAL CLAY. I know - oatmeal is awesome! Mix 1 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. After your kids mold it into the blobby shape of their choice, let it dry over night and paint it the next day. But don’t eat it. I don’t think it would taste very good....especially the paint part. So there you have it, folks. Now go and enjoy National Oatmeal Month for yourself. We’ve already started celebrating here. How, you ask? By making giant oatmeal cookies....duh? 11


Capricorn (12/22-1/19)- You are quite possibly the coolest being in all human existance, I see me...and I mean you...receiving LOTS of gifts on your birthday. Aquarius (1/20-2/18)- Don’t eat out this month, unless you really want to find that fingertip in your chilli cheese fries. Pisces (2/19-3/20)- Like a Gelfling among Skeksis, only you have the ability to locate the missing shard of the Dark Crystal. Aries (3/21-4/19)- I say go for it and dye your hair purple. Really. Do it. Taurus (4/20-5/20)- It’s your party, you can cry if you want to. Just don’t skimp on the tissues. Gemini (5/21-6/21)- Oh please, you know everyone thinks you look hot in that dress, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Schwan’s man asked you to run away with him. (It’s your choice, but I would go with him - HE HAS CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM in his truck.) Cancer (6/22-7/22)- All your wildest dreams will come true. All of the ones involving elephant poop, that is. Leo (7/23-8/22)- You will smile with parsley stuck in your teeth, at lunch, on the 12th of this month. There, now you’ve been warned. Virgo (8/23-9/22)- Buy a big bottle of Tums. You’re going to need them. Libra (9/23-10/22)- Money will fall from the sky. But you’re required to share it with me. Scorpio (10/23-11/21)- True to your sign, you have poison in your rear. Which will come in handy when you get attacked by that giant, man-eating, tube sock. Sagittarius (11/22-12/21)- Some people would say that your ears are Dumbo-esque, but what they don’t know is that big flappers like that are all the rage for 2011.


PHOTOGRA The new year has fast approached, and we all know what January 1st is notorious for right? C’mon! I know you are already making new years resolutions; anything from a new exercise plan to organizing your life, but what about documenting life? Sometimes that’s the last thing on our minds as a resolution, but should be one of the firsts! I know as I take a look back on 2010, I wish I would have documented more of our family activities, my activities and crafts and the fact that I blink an eye and my kids have transformed right in front of me. Its never too late to begin documenting your life. Here are a few of my tips to get started.

What do you need to get star ted? • Get a camera. A point and shoot camera, even the new hd flip pocket camcorders, or if you have a dslr (a camera with removable lenses) that works great as well! • If you have a camera that can shoot in manual mode, I highly stress learning how to use it in that mode, it will give you the best results for your camera. • A life! Everyone has one, so documenting won’t be a problem.

Now I’ve got the equipment, how best can I document life? • Documenting life is different for everyone. Look at your current situation. Do you have kids? Newly married? Have pets or animals? A hobby or business you would like to promote? Most people have at least one of the above. • Capture the details!!! Even the small ones. Kids playing with their favorite toys, girls walking around the house in mommies shoes, details at a baby shower, or any other party. • One of the biggest things is to get close and capture things without too much disturbance in the background, this allows the subject at hand or the “moment” to be the focus. • Get down on their level. This is “key” for small children or small pets. Getting down on their level to document life from how they see it makes great memories. • You can never take too many pictures, especially with digital cameras, if you find out you don’t care for that picture too much, you can go and erase it, but you can never go back and take it! 13

A P HwithYMarissa1 Varg 0ason1 Now if your wanting to start out for the new year with a resolution to take more pictures and document life, but you’re still unsure on how to go about it, here are two easy options you can use: 1. Take a picture a week for 52 weeks. This is great to constantly be taking your camera out, but if you’re busy and on the go, you only have to take one picture a week of something that you are wanting to document. You and your spouse, your kids, family, your pets, a party, your home, anything really. Then after the year, you have 52 images! 2. Take a picture once a day for 365 days. This one takes a little more dedication. You can take a picture of something you are wanting to document once a day for 365 days. Then at the end of the year you have 365 pictures!!! This is a great one if you are trying to document your life as a mom or a dad because we all know kids are doing funny things 365 days a year. Both of these options are a great start and if you want to really see your year in review, start a blog and post your images. Then you have them all in one place! You can create a blog book at the end of the year and it will have all of your images, and captions of what was going on in that moment. Okay! Now here is where I challenge you to start documenting life, and to let you know I’m serious, I will be right there alongside with you! I think I’ll start with taking 52 images, as much as I would LOVE to have 365 days worth of pictures, I’m kind of a commit-a-phobe. (Yep, that’s a word.) Find me on facebook and we can help each other.

Ready, Set, GO!!! Marissa Vargaon is an award-winning photographer with a pure and simple photographic style.

A studio and on-location photographer, Marissa specializes

in modern custom portraiture for all ages, including maternity/birth, newborns/ babies/children, families and teens/high school seniors. Her company, Marissa Vargason Photography, is located in Syracuse, Utah, and serves the Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.

You can see more of her amazing work on her blog:

h t t p : / / m a r i s s a v a r g a s o n p h o t o g r a p h y. c o m / b l o g 14

Get your copy of “Miss Delacourt Has Her Day”, the latest novel from Heidi Ashworth.




Why I Don’t Like Blind Dates Guy I Have A Crush On and Hope Will Ask Me Out: “Hey Barb, watcha doing on Friday night?” Me: “Oh, no set plans. Why?” (Cuz really, when a guy you like asks if you have plans, don’t you make sure you’re available?) GIHACAHWAMO: “My friend has an extra ticket to the opera and needs a date. Will you go with him?” ...Backed myself right into that corner didn’t I? Well-Intentioned Acquaintance: “I have a friend I want you to set you up with. I think you’d be good together.” Me: “Oh? Why’s that?” Well-Intentioned Acquaintance: “Well, you’re both single.” ...Word to the wise---similar dating status does not necessarily lead to compatibility. Brother: “Hey, a lady that I know but you don’t wants to set you up with her friend’s son that she doesn’t really know.” (I may have edited that one a little-but the facts are all there.) Me: “Well, I can’t begin to think of one reason for not going on that date.” (Are you catchin’ my sarcasm here, cuz I’m layin’ it on pretty thick.) ...For the record, you should probably know both people that you’re trying to set up. And fairly well. Unspecified Parent: “Hey, favorite daughter. One of my work associates has a son that’s about to travel cross-country to attend medical school. I’d like you to go out with him” Me: “Honored Parent...I’d rather not.” ...Offspring of fellow workers do not necessarily a match in heaven make. Plus, who wants to commute to Florida just for a date? My other unspecified parent insists that being set up on a blind date is a compliment. While this may (heavy emphasis on “may”) be true when you’re 19-21ish, I’m of the opinion that when you’re....well, NOT 19-21ish, it’s less of a compliment and more along the lines of “I-need-to-find-someone-that’s-nottoo-young-for-the-guy-who-wants-me-to-set-him-up.” In conclusion, while I’m sure people have the best of intentions when they want to set you up, we all know where the road paved with good intentions will take us. Barbara is a native of Provo, Utah aka The Hurry-Up-And-Get-Married-Before-You’reBranded-An-Old-Maid capitol of the world. She has over 8 years professional experience as a “young” single adult and has lived through all the exciting, horrendous, embarrassing, unusual, and cliché things a relationship has to offer. When she’s not busy being 100% single, she enjoys dealing with mentally unstable roommates, vainly avoiding chocolate, and sending her nieces and nephews back to their parents when they get tired and cranky. You can read Barbara’s blog at:


17 All information provided by Copyright ©2008 by Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE). All rights reserved. Front photo: Evelyn Hockstein/CARE. Back photo: Josh Estey/CARE. 151 Ellis Street • Atlanta, GA 30303 800-422-7385


“I’m very newly thir ty something, single mother to a high sc on growing my first hool-er, working garden, puppy mam a, w ho w or ks time, and hates clea full time, cooks pa ning with a passio rt n. I began cooking as a very young child … 5-6yrs old, my m a stool and place ra om would give me ndom ingredients on th e co unter so that I coul along with her. It d cook was probably my fo nd es t childhood memory. was a beautiful vibr My mother ant and very sick yo un g w om an , we lost her too ea during a heart and rly lung transplant, sh e w as on ly 34… I was 7. N not going to turn th ow I’m is in to a pity part or sob story but when back all those warm I cook it brings happy feelings of m y ch ild ho od . So no matter how bu things in my life ge t when I come hom sy e an d m ake dinner it alway me up. s cheers I see so many amaz ing blogs out on th e net with colorful perfect recipe resu rich pictures and lts loads of creativ ity well that’s not me! are taken with a po My pictures int and shoot cam er a, m y re ci pes are of ten trial error, and my gram and mer, punctuation an d sp el lin g are horrendous! is focused on the av My site erage person who m ay be broke, tired, set the kitchen on lazy or may even fire from time to tim e, ca us e th at’s me too. So if yo looking for some ho u’re nest recipes, intere st in g re ads, or just want to my screw ups you’ laugh at ve come to the righ t place!”


If your like me and feel like popping open a jar of salsa is cheating then this is the perfect recipe especially when your busy with other party preparations

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25 photo courtesy of www.d om

http://www.d omesticdame .com/2010/1 1/chicken-gy ros/


1-1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces 4 cloves garlic, smashed 1 lemon 2 tsp. red wine vinegar 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 2 heaping Tbsp. plain yogurt 1 Tbsp. dried oregano salt and pepper


sliced tomatoes sliced onions 4 pitas Tzatziki: 16 ounces Greek yogurt 5 cloves of garlic, pressed Half of a cucumber, chopped 1 Tbsp olive oil Fresh dill to taste

Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then broil until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes per side. Allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes before slicing into strips. Meanwhile, heat your pitas on the stove, a few seconds per side. To make the Tzatziki mix all of the ingredients together very well. Place tzatziki in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Stir again before serving. Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions. Roll up and eat!


Abby’s Fab Five Resolutions





With the new year right around the corner, I’ve got resolutions on the brain. As always, my personal resolutions are ridiculously over ambitious. I’m a mom. I’m (almost!) a wife, I’m a business owner. Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to find the time to read more poetry or revive my study of the French language. Those things might have to wait until I’m retired! What I will find time for, however, are some small changes to my wardrobe, health, and beauty regimen. I’ve got some pretty simple style resolutions and I’m really excited to try them out. In fact, I decided not to wait until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. I’ve already put my personal style resolutions into play. 1) I’m going to go to bed in style from now on. I’m going to rid my drawers of all faded, oversized, and mismatched pajamas. In 2011, I will sleep looking (and hopefully feeling) cuter than I ever could in an XXL MLB t-shirt (yes, I’m guilty of stealing shirts from my fiancé. They are just too easy and too comfortable to resist). I’m planning on adding cute- but still comfy- sleepwear to my wardrobe. I really love these Fireside Long Jane pajamas ($49.50 from VS). 2) I’ve said it before but this time, I’m sticking to it. At 27 years old, I’ve got to grow up and stop biting my nails. I actually haven’t chewed on a fingernail in over a month. I never thought I’d kick the habit but really, pretty hands/nails are a must for any stylish girl. I’m so much more comfortable with people seeing my hands when I don’t have stubby, bleeding fingernails. To make this resolution a successful one, I’ve used some really amazing products. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($9 from Target) and OPI nail polish have been the most helpful. 3) Resolution three is a simple one. I’m going to start washing my face every night so that I can finally use my favorite night cream on a regular basis. What is the point of purchasing a nighttime cream if you aren’t going to use it? If you want an effective but not overpriced night cream, try the Age Defying Replenishing Night Cream from Oil of Olay ($13 at Target). 4) I see so many cute hair accessories all over the place. Headbands, clips, and pins now come adorned with flowers, beads, sequins, and feathers and they are pretty much irresistible and they really draw attention to the eyes and face. I’m making hair candy my new accessory for 2011. Where am I going to get my hairbands/clips? Etsy, of course. 5) Resolution five is a little less specific than 1-4. In 2011, I’m going to stop stressing over personal style. I’m not going granola, so please don’t worry or plan an intervention. I’m just not going to let fashion, wrinkles, scale numbers, or any other frivolous thing get to me anymore. I think I’ve finally emerged from the need-toimpress that was so important in my teen years and early twenties. I am finally ready to dress – and LIVE- for myself. I’m not going to cry if I think I see a wrinkle and I’m not going to say no to delicious food just because I’m afraid of what the scale will say the next morning. In fact, in 2011, I don’t want to be afraid of anything. I want to be fearless and confident. No outfit, accessory, or hairstyle can make a lady look as amazing as confidence does. Happy New Year! Abby Lomento is a happy and hopeful mom to one cute daughter and two furry babies. She likes to read, write, exercise, and shop. She is a personal style fanatic and loves to try new looks and products. Get to know her better at her blogs: Diligent Joy m i s s a b b y a . b l o g s p o t. c o m and Confessions of a Beauty Aisle Addict b e a u t y a i s l e a d d i c t. b l o g s p o t. c o m



AHEM hilarious blog:

Elesa is a mother of two, a wife, a lover of science fiction and the writer of the

I have to admit that I identify with her on multiple levels and love her the most for being a fan of the show Dr. Who (it’s a love only Dr. Who fans can appreciate). Plus it’s hard not to burst into chortles when she writes things like this:

“I just woke up from a nap. Sort of. As much as one can wake up from a nap. There are those who believe that you never truly wake up from a nap, and as your life goes on more and more of you stays asleep until there is more of you asleep than awake. That is why old people are such bad drivers.” 29

Getting to know Elesa through her blog

“There are many, many things that I excel at. Cake Decorating and Photography are just a few that come to mind. Well, also Plants. And, apparently, writing good sentences, such as ones unto the similarity of this.

is fun, yet somewhat

time consuming

because it’s just so hard to stop reading through her old posts.

(How does one

turn away from such entertainment?) I found myself chuckling at her wit multiple times while I became more

For today’s lesson:

interested in her life. Elesa’s two lucky sons came to her

I realize I am probably telling you something you already know. But that is my job. That is actually what I have been assigned by the higher-ups to do; Tell you stuff you already know, like ....... I don’t know, don’t punch cows and stuff. Whatever. So I live in a dusty house. I would swear that it is at least 3 times dustier than your average Utah home. And I deal with the dust by ignoring it. Which works wonders! Except today, for who knows what reason, I realized my plants were looking pretty sad. Ok, so the point!!

through adoption and get to share in her love of family, house remodeling and the random stray cats that show up at her back door.

“I think the Feline underground has had some wires crossed somewhere along the lines. Cuz when they are leaving their little hobo-cat markings on the fence posts, the ones outside our house seem to be saying ‘This is a good place to get food.’ And it’s not true! Just ask my husband.”

How to clean and polish your plants. Ta da! The secret is mayonnaise. Mayonnaise will shine them up and make them look like plastic. (Which is the goal with live houseplants.) Lots of condiments have more than one use like this. You can use ketchup in your windowsill to seal up gaps, mustard will kill a beetle on contact, and pickles are great for throwing at people. Obviously. But the mayo on the plants really is real.” 30

“My I button seems to be malfunctioning. If I don’t pay careful attention it just doesn’t type anything when I press on it. Most words can be ignored and fixed with spell checker, except when I am talking about myself and use the word ‘I’. If I am not paying attenton, I will get to the end of a sentence where I expound my opnions on icecream flavors, and when I look back over it, I will have been completely left out of the sentence. I feel a lttle bit lke I am losing my identty. So I have to keep going back over it and saying ‘I! I! I’m the one who loves Heavenly Hash!’ I have to be really forceful and jab the “I” key really hard to convnce it that I am the one who is talking.

Though it occurs to me now, that maybe the reason that I is the key that is going, is because I have always been too forceful with it.What am I trying to compensate for?” “Is cleanliness really next to Godliness?


is that just one of those things people say, like ‘All’s fair in love and war’





time to watch T.V.’

If, hypothetically speaking, I haven’t done my dishes all


more evil?” 31




“You know those commercials for stuff that ‘isn’t sold in any store’, like paper cutters, can openers, mini hamburger cookers etc? They really want to stress that getting along without their product is nearly impossible, so to do that they show people having a hard time. And you always just see the hands. You’ll see some hands trying clumsily to strain some spaghetti noodles, but they end up dumping the noodles all over the place. Or you’ll see the hands trying desperately to cut out a picture but ‘cutting a strait line with scissors is almost impossible!’ These commercials have always made me laugh and laugh until today, when I realized that they are very sad. It is probably just one lady. She has been hired to do all these commercials, and she is trying her hardest, but nothing seems to be working out for her. I made some hamburgers the other day, but when I tried to flip them over they just flew out of the pan. So I kinda know how she feels. Poor lady. Can’t do anything right, and the whole world knows it.”

I loved reading through Elesa’s writings and will be back to see what she has to say in the future. Her blog, “Ahem”, takes a comfortable position in my “what to read for a chuckle” list. “And that my friends, is why.... I don’t know. really don’t know how to wrap this up.


I just like to

call you my friends.”

Review by Melissa Bastow. All quotes and pictures courtesy of Elesa from


sew THAT

FABRIC BOWS How many times have you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I had a ginormous fabric bow to stick on my daughter’s head!!”? It happens like ALL THE TIME doesn’t it? Well, good news, I’m going to show you how to make one.


•Fabric •Iron •Sewing Machine •Scissors •Thread & Needle (to sew by hand)

DIRECTIONS: First cut 2 squares and a rectangle. You don’t even have to go by specific dimensions, just keep in mind that the squares will need to be a bit bigger than you want the width of your finished bow to be. Pin together and sew around the edges of the square. Leave a small opening on one side so that you can turn it right side out. Fold your rectangle in half and sew that too (but leave the one small end open. Fold the finished square in half so you know where the center line is (don’t just guess on the center, it will be me and let my mistakes be your guide). With a needle & thread take LARGE stitches right up that center line.


Trim the corners of the square, then turn both pieces right side out.

M a k e sure your edges & corners are all the way o u t a n d then press the pieces flat with a hot iron. You could probably back over them with your car until they’re pressed flat, but I reccomend a hot iron.

With a needle & thread, sew shut the small opening you left before. I used a color of thread that sort of shows in the picture, but you’ll want this to be as invisible as possible.

Pull the stitches tight & wrap the thread around the center a couple times for good measure.

Wrap the rectangle p i e c e around the center and stitch it together in the back. Grab the rectangle plus a little of the bow/square when you stitch this so that everything stays in place. Just make sure the stitches don’t show in the front.

You don’t need to make a massive bow like I made. Smaller fabric b o w s look great layered with ribbon or attached to clothing. They have lots of uses, and they really are a piece of cake to make.

Advertise with The Barrel

WE’’RE CHEAP & EASY! WE (But only when it comes to advertising, so don’t get any ideas.)

Contact Michelle for prices & details: We even offer our ad designing services if you need them. I mean, just look at T H I S ad!

Clearly there’s no lack in our designing skills. 34

Make a resolution to save time in 2011 with VolunteerSpot! VolunteerSpot is a free and easy tool that helps anyone become a volunteer coordinator and makes it easy for every parent to participate in their kid’s classroom and activities! We all know it takes an army of parents to give our kids rich experiences at school, sports and church. Before grabbing that clipboard signup sheet or considering the “reply-all” button on your email, make life simpler for both the volunteers and the organizer by suggesting they first check out VolunteerSpot ( In one easy-to-use online coordination tool, you’ll save the sanity of all the people involved, and feel good doing good all through 2011 and beyond! The VolunteerSpot team is passionate about increasing parent participation in schools by making it easier to ask for help, and even easier to sign up to help. VolunteerSpot’s free online signup sheets can be used for organizing anything – classroom readers and helpers, snack schedules, charity fun-runs, tournaments, community potlucks, carnival fundraisers, parent-teacher conferences and more. Once signed up (with just a few clicks), parents receive automated email confirmation and reminder messages helping everyone keep their commitments.

“ VolunteerSpot made planning a party for four second grade classrooms a breeze! Once I had it all entered, I just watched our spots fill in a matter of days and all the children LOVED the party!”

~ Stacy L., Maricopa, AZ

Using VolunteerSpot’s easy online signup sheets and planning calendar does just that! Eliminate those pesky replyall nightmares and stress about who’s bringing what and give it a try today for your class’s art helpers, your team’s snack schedule, your church’s coat drive, or your local community food pantry!

Join Volunteer Spot TODAY by clicking on the link:


What’s YOUR Volunteer Resolution for the New Year? A common list of New Year’s resolutions look something like: • lose weight • get more sleep • exercise three times a week • watch less TV This year, consider adding a resolution to

Vo l u n t e e r M o r e (with your family)!

Resolve to Volunteer! Volunteering is an excellent way to get involved and make a positive impact in your school and community. When you Include your kids it builds confidence and empathy, and helps them learn that even small people can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Whether it’s being the room mom for your kid’s class, planting trees in your local park, helping at a church food pantry or community nonprofit, or handing out tickets at a school carnival, volunteering boosts your happiness levels and self-worth and improves your community. And now it’s easier than ever to help out, when you use VolunteerSpot to plan volunteer hours. The usual New Year’s resolutions quickly fall by the wayside because everyday schedules don’t have much flexibility; it seems like there’s never enough time to fit in that exercise routine or even just get to bed on time. VolunteerSpot is the solution to your time vs. volunteer commitment battle. Fast and easy scheduling and one-click signups eliminate the hassle so anyone can be a willing volunteer. Now everyone has the ability to give an hour every few weeks, or bring snacks to a game when they have a free Saturday. Remember, starting small counts…and your contribution matters!

Resolve to volunteer this year, and use VolunteerSpot to make it stick!


esigns Blog D OF THE MONTH

These are just a few of our favorite blog designs from some of our favorite blog designers. Blogger: Carissa • Blog Design by: w w w . e c l e c t i c w h i m s y d e s i g n s . c o m


w w w. o r d i n a r y c o u r a g e. c o m Blogger: Brené Brown • Blog Design by: w w w . e c l e c t i c w h i m s y d e s i g n s . c o m

d i l s o c i e t y . c o m / b l o g Blogger: The DIL Society • Blog Design by: m o x i e d e s i g n s t u d i o s . c o m


New Year Resolutions

b y, M e l i s s a B a s t o w

n o, I w i l l n o t b e l o s i n g w e i g h t ( A G A I N ) t h i s y e a r

I have to say it: I HATE NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS. Mostly because they inspire my already floundering psyche into a depressed stupor when I invariably fail. But that doesn’t mean I don’t mind reading about other people’s goals. Upon perusing the archives of random bloggers, these are some of my favorite resolutions that I came across: ...Spend more time writing my book. You know, the book that is going to make me rich and famous? It starts out with a girl named Sherry, Sherry Plotter. She lives in the rainiest city in the U.S. in a cupboard under the stairs. Her friend, a vampire, gave her a ring. But it turns out this ring can rule the world. So she goes off to a school for magicky people called PigBlemishes. There she learns about the werewolves plot to kill the vampires and only the ring can stop them. Or her love. Maybe it’s her love that stops them from destroying each other. I’m still working out that detail. It’s tentatively titled, “Sherry Plotter and the Cup of Hot Stuff.”

from in 2010 I resolve that this year I will throw a glass of water in someone’s face and say, “How dare you?” I resolve that this year I will master a roundhouse kick, making my “Road House” reenactments more realistic.

1. I will do 2000 loads of laundry this year. 2. I will only complain about it 9 times.

from in 2009

I resolve that this year I will convince at least one new acquaintance that I am British. I resolve to learn to play a musical instrument that does not, currently, exist.

1. Shave my legs. **

I resolve to nickname someone close to me “Chachi.”

from in 2010

**No, I will not tell you how long it’s been. Don’t judge me, it’s cold here, and I’m grateful for the extra warmth.

I will not leave laundry piles around my house that are very comfortable to put my feet up on.

***It’s been sitting in my kitchen for a few days now. However, now that I think of it, maybe I should just leave it up, it could add to the counter space.

from in 2009 in 2010

2. Put my ironing board away. ***

So what about you? Are you going to stick to your list of fabulous new year resolutions this year? Or join me in the land of never changing mediocrity? (We have chocolate and Diet Coke here.)


. . f o s e iv h c r a e h t m o r f •

Mom, Dad, Please Don’t Read This Post November 4, 2008 Now, we’re all girlfriends here right? So I have to tell you about the lengths I’ll go to perpetuate my own stupidity. It’s that time of the month for me (as if you didn’t know that, remember all the depressed posts of last week?) but good ol’ aunt flo is on her way out. I noticed yesterday that I was running a bit low on protection (no, not that kind of protection, stay with me here girls) but I didn’t worry too much about it. I was almost done anyway right? So I got out of the shower this afternoon and open the drawer in my bathroom vanity and … NOTHING. Um, ah, that’s going to be a problem. Aunt flo’s on her way out but she isn’t gone yet. I’m home alone with four children. And it’s cold and rainish and I am not taking four children to the grocery store alone to buy feminine hygiene products. (Especially since the Pea earned the entire day in his room this morning and taking him to the store means letting him out of his room.) So I check the upstairs bathroom, it used to be my bathroom after all, it’s not unlikely that there will be some stray tampons in there. Nothing. Now, it’s been about half an hour since I got out of the shower and I’m starting to get a little desperate. I mentally catalog the things that I did find while looking through the bathroom vanities. I have a few options. A breast pad, (hey, they’re made to be absorbent right?) the huge gigantic diaper like pad the hospital sends home with you when you have a baby, rolled up TP (not a good idea) or an actual diaper (I have plenty of those lying around). Do I need to say that not one of these is a good option. I’m reaching back under the vanity to pull out my options for a side by side comparison when I hear angels singing. There it is. The lone, forgotten, lost tampon. The packaging is old but undamaged and I’m saved. That is all, Mom and Dad, you can come back in now.


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POTTY TALK embarrassment served in a porcelain bowl

Ever yone loves a good dating stor y, but they ’re just so much better when they involve bathrooms and blow outs. Enjoy this stor y from Rachel at:

s c r e a m a n d h u g . b l o g s p o t . c o m

Within a week or two of the beginning of my courtship with my husband, he asked me to go to the Sweethearts dance with him--which I happily accepted. All of my roommates were going, and this was a first. We decided to make a day of it: pancakes for breakfast, fix each other’s hair, and just spend time anticipating the fun evening ahead of us. John came to pick me up before the dance, and took me back to his apartment where dinner was waiting. His roommates and their dates were there as well, and we had chicken enchiladas and strawberry daiquiris, my first introduction to my future husband’s specialty. After dinner we headed up to the MC and got our pictures taken first. Then we blissfully headed to the dance floor. As we started in on that first magical dance, I felt something very, very unmagical going on in my stomach. And I made a mad dash for the bathroom. It was packed full. And I was humiliated. The smell refused to stay confined in my cubicle. Feeling slightly relieved, I headed back to find my date. Less than five minutes later, a familiar sensation began creeping into my stomach once again. Feeling a little embarrassed, I made the excuse that I had just seen one of my friends, who I hadn’t seen in a long time and wanted to go talk to her. I gracefully swept out of the ballroom and booked it for the bathroom. And again it was packed. Further humiliation ensued. This scene repeated itself about 2 more times before John got annoyed and asked what was going on? I finally admitted to him that I felt sick and asked if we could leave. As we were exiting the building we passed my roommates and I pulled them aside and desperately begged them to tell me if they had any pepto or Imodium or ANYTHING at the apartment that I could take. Because I was past humiliation. And in pain. And I was starting to stink a bit. Alas, all that was offered was gas-x and I didn’t think that the best route to take. When we got to my apartment, I explained everything with a cherry red face and my sweet John was nothing but sympathetic and concerned. And then I think he went home and told his roommates and they got a good laugh at my expense. But the next day, they all did a glorious job of feigning concern. Thanks, guys.

If you have a funny (G-Rated) bathroom story you would like to share, email me: