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THE blogging BARREL reviews NOVEMBER 2010

MEET ANGIE She’s a writer, a blogger, a mom, a missionary and amazing.

From the Archives of Mombabe Bingham

COOKING WITH MANDY Blog Designs of the Month

& Potty Talk with Shelle

LAUGHING

WITH

HEIDI

Tips From a Real House Wife

PHOTOGRAPHY

WITH

MARISSA


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: BLOG SPOTLIGHTS November 2010 ANGIE WASHINGTON 7 Be inspired & entertained with stories about family, missionary work, adoption and living in Bolivia.

MANDY’S RECIPE BOX 10 Delicious looking photos and recipes will have you heading to the kitchen immediately.

HEIDI HADLEY 20 Laugh, giggle, titter, chortle, guffaw, hoot, snort, cackle and snicker to your heart’s content.

MARISSA VARGASON 24 See some visually stunning photos from a professional memory creator and her camera.

ON THE COVER: Meet Angie - 7 Cooking with Mandy - 10 Blog Designs of the Month - 30 Potty Talk with Shelle - 32 From the Archives of Mombabe Bingham - 34 Tips from a Real House Wife - 19 Photography with Marissa - 24

photo courtesy of Mandy’s Recipe Box

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NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: Hi. This is our first issue! Welcome to the world little Barrel. We don’t want to pretend that we know better, or that we’re excellent at writing reviews (or anything else, really, because technical writing - WHOA). What we do want to do is to share some of the cool blogs that we’ve found. And hopefully entertain you a little bit. And give you a little something extra to read when you reeeeeally have to have a few minutes away from the kids....or your boss.....or those dirty dishes that for some horrible reason aren’t washing themselves even though you clicked your heels together three times and wished for it. Please ignore our writing errors -and lameness- so you can focus on the awesome blogs we have to share with you, and the fun contributions from people who are more clever, entertaining and probably much better looking than us.

Melissa & Michelle

We hope you like our Barrel.

xoxo,

MAGAZINE CREDITS: Executive Editor: Michelle Laird Editorial Director: Melissa Bastow Deputy Design Director: Melissa Bastow Research Master Chief: Michelle Laird Singles Section Specilaist: Barbara Managing Supreme Director of Diaper Creme Application: Michelle Laird Official, Oh That’s Totally Gross, Snotty Nose Wiper: Melissa Bastow Ultimate Blind Date Setup Artist: Barbara Master of the Universe: Melissa Bastow

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SECTIONS 14

Great Give Aways A list of blogs you can visit to win some fab give aways. Super Singles Section - What Not to Say to Single People Expert advice from Barbara.

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Charity of the Month - Homelessness Shedding light on ways you can help the homeless.

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Tips from a Real House Wife What to do with nail polish, baking soda and vanilla (but not all at the same time). Crochet That - The Easiest Hat You’ll Ever Make It really is easy. And cute. Did I mention cute?

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Fashion...or Something Like It - Shoes Everyone needs at least twelve pairs of shoes.

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Blog Designs of the Month Awesome designs from talented designers and the bloggers who love them.

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Potty Talk - Shelle at Blokthoughts A long, but oh-so-worth-it, story of love, adolescent angst and bowel movements.

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From the Archives of... - Mombabe Bingham Professional baby naming and the pointlessness thereof.

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

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photo courtesy of www.angiewashington.com

meet Angie

An gi e bl o g s a t

“The

@”

w w w . a n g i e w a s h i n g t o n . c o m

About Angie:

• Inspired by her friends, Angie started blogging in November 2006. • Her blog is genuine and fun, playful and uplifting, well written and poetic. • Angie is a wife and a mother to 5 children, ages 12, 11, 9, 4 and 2 (who show up on her blog frequently). • Her family has lived in Bolivia for nine years. • Angie enjoys doing missionary work. • She collects cacti and kaleidoscopes.

My signature h as the at symbol in it: @ . It reminds me of the shape of a steering wheel b ecause I love driving. It also causes me to ask the philo sophical question of life:

who’s driving th is thing? -Angie

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A few central themes to Angie’s blog are family, service, God and Bolivia. You’ll find yourself immersed in her blog posts no matter the subject because she writes with candor, love and creativity. Make sure you have plenty of time when you visit Angie’s blog for the first time because you’ll want to read through her archives to hear more of her stories and learn more about her life and family.

photo courtesy of www.angiewashington.com

“ Recent ly my 1 1 y e a r o l d s on s l i p p e d a n o t e t o me t ha t re a d :

ou r f amily is the best! ”

nally. o ti n te n I . ly te a “Deliber ply, m si e it u Q . y ll a c Unequivo I am Mama. l, two are el w ( es n o le tt li Five and one m iu ed m e r a o little, tw ch shorter is now just an in a big kid) is e sh so e m n tha f calling me o e eg il iv r p e th have ered, as v o c is d e v a h I . mama efit is well, that the ben se I am reciprocal becau mama.” ed ll a c e b to ed r o hon -Angie 8

Not long ago, Angie’s family got to officially welcome their newest member. Blog posts cover the highs and lows they experienced through the amazing adoption of their youngest daughter. Angie’s husband, who she says is also her best friend, has raised a church, a bible school network, a publishing house, an international office servicing Christian leaders and an orphanage in Bolivia. They are busy with missionary work and serving others. In a nut shell, they are amazing.

photo courtesy of www.angiewashington.com


“The morning called for hoodies to nip the chill, unless you were a Bolivian, in which case you would be dressed in three woolly layers, a scarf wrapped half a dozen times around your neck and a hat and gloves to ward off the cold and the colds. Our guide showed up on time in his own car. He also had a girl of 11 with him. We made room for Fernando and Clara in the truck and we drove. Cochabamba’s hustle and smog were left quickly behind. The pavement eventually took a leave of absence as well. Hillside farms with adobe dwellings dotted the dusty landscape. Shepherdesses with knitted legwarmers under their knee-length, layered and pleated velvet skirts tended the flocks of goats and sheep. Alongside the roads stood college students talking on their cells waiting for a ride into the big city. We rounded the lake called La Angostura and I knew we were close to Tarata on our way to Huayculi.” -Angie Review by Melissa Bastow • All photos and writing samples are from www.angiewashington.com and subject to copyright.

As I read through her posts about Bolivia I was entertained with stories of Pizza Cones and how some places there are “unburdened by silly street signs”. photo courtesy of www.angiewashington.com

Angie’s missionary work and relationship with God are mentioned on her blog in a respectful tone. But she also has a way with poetry and wit that can also get her point across and put a smile on your face:

“The common prayer of the impatient person is, ‘God, give me patience. Now!’ Even the most sincere pleas for patience are dangerous prayers. Why are they dangerous? Because God is not a fat little fairy godmother who floats around singing bipity-bopity-boo banging you on the head with magic sparkly dust turning you into what you desperately want to become. So that the seeds of the fruit of the Spirit planted in the soil of our heart grow the conditions must be right. Those conditions are worked into our lives by the Good Farmer. He brings the fertilizer of circumstances into our lives. We then choose to allow this fertilizer to do its work as we trust Christ to strengthen us. Or we can choose to become harried, frustrated and down right offended. Next time you ask God to give you patience take a look around. Patience may be getting fertilized in that very moment.” Read more of Angie’s writing at:

http://www.angiewashington.com 9


photograph courtesy of Mandy’s Recipe Box

FUDGE REVEL BARS

(family recipe)

1 c. butter 2 eggs 2 c. brown sugar 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking soda 2 1/2 c. flour 2 tsp. vanilla 3 c. quick oats Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Add the vanilla. Add the salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir. Add oats and mix everything really well. Press 2/3 of the dough into a greased cookie sheet.

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk 1 pkg milk chocolate chips 1 Tbsp. butter 1/2 tsp salt

Put all into a microwave safe bowl Mandy was a city girl through and through until she met a dashing farmer who swept her off her feet and into the role of a country gal. She loves all things food and likes to share her personal recipes, family recipes, and any other delicious recipe she comes across. Not only that, her blog is full of gorgeous pictures of food (because yes, food can be gorgeous.) It’s a feat in itself to not lick your monitor when reading Mandy’s Recipe Box.

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and microwave for 1 minute and stir. Keep cooking at 30 second increments and stirring until melted. Pour over the dough and spread out. Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the fudge. Bake at 350 for 20 min.


photograph courtesy of

PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CARMEL CIDER SAUCE 1 c. sugar

FOR CIDER SAUCE

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2/3 c. apple cider

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. butter

3/4 c. oil

salt to taste

(recipe from unknown source)

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin 2 eggs Combine the first 6 ingredients. Add oil, pumpkin and eggs. Whisk until blended. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Cool and top with the sauce before serving.

In a saucepan, whisk brown sugar and cornstarch. Add cider and stir in the cream, butter and salt. Cook over med-hi heat, whisking constantly, until large bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and allow to thicken, about 2 minutes. Top with vanilla ice cream if you want and drizzle sauce over it. Try using a fork when you’re eating this - you don’t want to embarrass yourself by diving in face-first, although in realty, you’ll want to.

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BANANA-RAMA CAKE Mandy shared this on Mommy’s Kitchen Potluck Sunday

1/2 C. butter or margarine, soft 1 1/2 C. sugar 2 eggs 1 C. sour cream 1 tsp. vanilla extract 2 C. flour 1 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet). In a medium-sized bowl cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in mashed bananas. Spread mixture into greased jelly roll pan (cookie sheet). Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and frost.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream 1(8 oz) package cream cheese, softened cheese, butter, and vanilla. Beat in enough powdered sugar

1/2 C. butter or margerine, softened

until it reaches the consistancy you want. 2 tsp. vanilla extract Frost the top of the cooled cake.

3 3/4 to 4 C. powdered sugar

photograph courtesy of

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Review by Melissa Bastow •


The following recipe was Mandy’s favorite as a child. The recipe has been passed through the generations from Grandma Cuckoo to Mandy’s mom, and now Mandy makes them for her own children. I love that Mandy called her grandmother “Grandma Cuckoo” (for the cuckoo clock she had). My kids call my mom “Grandma Tootie” (for no good reason whatsoever). Find more recipes at: http://mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com photograph courtesy of Mandy’s Recipe Box

GRANDMA CUCKOO’S PINEAPPLE COOKIES (Grandma Cuckoo’s Recipe)

1 c. shortening 1 1/2 c. sugar 1 egg 9 oz. crushed pineapple (you could add more if you want) 3 1/2 c. flour 1 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Cream together the shortening, sugar, and egg. Add crushed pineapple (I didn’t have that so I took my tidbits and put them in a processor and crushed it that way), flour, soda, salt, and nutmeg. Spoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.

photograph courtesy of Mandy’s Recipe Box

• All photos and recipes can be found at mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com and subject to copyright.

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organically growing your online neighborhood

Looking to win a GIVE AWAY? Check out these blogs:

http://audreysgiveaways.blogspot.com

http://www.dandygiveaway.com

http://smileadaygiveaways.blogspot.com

http://onefrugallady.blogspot.com

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

e thCasual Blogger

Community

www.casualbloggercommunity.com

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what NOT to say to single people... There’s a trend among those of you that have been out there enjoying your marital bliss. You want to hear about the lives of those who don’t have it, give them advice, help them on their way, share how great it is....you get the drift. While we may (or may not) appreciate the thought, here is a guide of things you should avoid saying if you prefer to not have your throat ripped out.

~So, why are you still single? Why no just ask us for a list of our insecurities? The questions we have about ourselves are magnified when people want to know why we’re single.

~Or, equally as horrid, when are you getting married? Well gee, let me check with my non-existent fiancée and I’ll get back to you on that one.

~You just haven’t found him yet. Oh really? Is that why I’m still single and not going out on dates? Thanks for the clarification. I’ll start looking harder since I’ve been walking around with blinders on for the past several years.

~He just hasn’t found you yet. Right-cuz I’ve been working so hard on my dating camouflage skills. ~It’ll happen when it happens. Thanks Captain Obvious. ~It happens when you’re not looking. For those of us that can’t turn off the “looking” button, that’s super discouraging. And also, I have known more than a few people that found their spouses when they were looking. So, it’s just plain false.

~There are so many great guys out there. Gee, thanks for pointing out the fact that I can’t even manage to find one. Now, here’s the thing: no, we should not complain and we should make the most of our current status in life and focus on being our best self, BUT never, NEVER, tell us to be grateful we’re still single. Especially don’t do it while simultaneously complaining about your marriage. We get that it’s hard. We know changing your life to accommodate a spouse isn’t going to be easy. But you know what? We’re willing to do it. We’re wanting to do it! Being in love is fun, and we want that. While we may enjoy the occasional crazy weekend, staying up late with friends, going on last minute weekend trips etc, we’d trade it for the relationship that you are complaining about. If you simply must ask if we’re dating and/or interested, make it tactful. Ask if we’re seeing anyone. If we’re not, leave it at that. Change the subject. The weather is always an easy one. There is no need to tell us how blind the other boys (or girls) are, how amazing we are, what they’re missing out on etc. Chances are, there is something (or many something ‘s) we could do to improve ourselves and become more dateable. Giving us a false belief in how great and perfect we are certainly isn’t going to make us more attractive to the opposite sex. Barbara is a native of Provo, Utah aka The Hurry-Up-And-Get-Married-BeforeYou’re-Branded-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: barbalootsuit.blogspot.com

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/withonef/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

671,859

Homelessness

•There are people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States - roughly 22 of every 10,000 people are homeless. •Of that number, 37 percent are people in families, and •63 percent are individuals, •18 percent of the homeless population are considered “chronic”, and •20 percent of the homeless population are made up of veterans. These numbers come from point-in-time counts, which are usually conducted on a single night in late January. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to submit this data every other year in order to qualify for federal homeless assistance funds.

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The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a leading voice on the issue of homelessness. The Alliance analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, costeffective policy solutions. The Alliance works collaboratively with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity, leading to stronger programs and policies that help communities achieve their goal of ending homelessness. We provide data and research to policymakers and elected officials in order to inform policy debates and educate the public and opinion leader nationwide.


Take action to end homelessness! There are a number of ways to get involved with the Alliance and stay up-to-date on the latest research and policy, upcoming events, and best practices. By getting involved in ending homelessness, YOU can make a discernible difference on national and local efforts to end this tragedy once and for all. By joining us, volunteering, donating, and becoming an advocate, you can help advance these efforts.

YOU CAN HELP :

•Check the National Alliance to End Homlessness website regularly for updates on federal legislation, community actions, and research. •Sign up for the weekly newsletter (Alliance Online News), a quarterly Research Newsletter with periodic Advocacy Updates. •Check out the interactive maps on the National Alliance to End Homelessness website - they stay up-to-date with the latest homelessness data. •Read The Alliance Daily Clips update, so you can find out what’s happening both in your state and across the country to prevent and end homelessness. •Volunteer your time to help those who are homeless in your community.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16536699@N07// / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

•Donate money. The Alliance works to ensure that your gift goes directly to help end homelessness. Their commitment to efficiency has earned the Alliance honors from leading nonprofit watchdog organizations: A four-star rating from Charity Navigator and an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness website to learn more:

http://www.endhomelessness.org All information and statistics provided by the National Alliance to End Homelessness website. Photos subject to copyright. Each month we will be featuring a charitable organization. Although no one has the time/money to save the world, please learn about those in need and the different organizations that support them, and help when you can.

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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 :

TIPS FROM A REAL HOUSE WIFE by, Michelle from mylifeasarealhousewife.blogspot.com

• Did you know if you paint the threads on your coat buttons they will stay on longer? Make sure you use a clear polish! • Finger nail polish also gets those annoying sticky tape marks off glass - it’s true. • When you are cooking and burn yourself, instead of cussing, pull out the vanilla and apply it to the burned area. • Next time you are shining up you husband’s chrome wheels try out baking soda. It works great. (So does making your husband shine his own chrome wheels.) • Next time you have to change a light-bulb forget the ladder, go get a swivel chair. Then it will be a fun experience. • To make your sink brighter you can line it with paper towels, pour bleach in it and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then scrub it with a cleaning powder. • When doing any house wife chore don’t forget what Kyle Richard, from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, says “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.” 19


Laugh ‘til Your Sides Split (which would actually be pretty painful, if you weren’t already so busy laughing and all...) Heidi Hadley at hadleyesque.blogspot.com

will instanteously have you peeing your pants in uncontrollable laughter. (Unless you’ve never had any children, and then possibly you can skip the peeing part and just do the tear streaming laugh instead.) About 3 years ago, Heidi went to a bookstore where an employee treated a teenager horribly. In another life, she “would have written a personal narrative and used it to show high school students how to organize writing pieces or something else silly.” But she was staying at home, and her husband had no interest in being her writing audience of one, so she started a blog. And then she thought, “Wow, I’ve got a lot more material where that came from!” If I could find that rude bookstore employee, I would probably give them a high five or sporty smack on the butt, since it was his horrible behavior that inspired such a hysterical blog. I just came home from the store and I hand Spe a box of bum wipes (you know, the FLUSHABLE kind) and say, “Hey, it’s time for you to learn to wipe your own bum after you poop.” He looks at me with a grin. He likes this kind of independence. I immediately add, “Dad is going to teach you. Take this to Dad.” Rhett looks at me strangely. I wave my hand dismissively, “I have work to do on the computer.” Thank goodness no one mentioned that I don’t actually have a paying job. Sometimes the joys of motherhood are payment enough, I guess.

Heidi blogs about her family, and life as a mom and wife. She says, “My family is pretty much what you would expect when two lunatics marry and procreate. No, not really. We’re like most other families. We have good days and bad days. Some days I’m awesome and make sugar cookies and take the kids to the library and clean the house and do crafts and make their clothes and stuff (not really), but there are some days when Rhett comes home and I’m still in my pajamas and I haven’t had a shower for three days (that’s gospel truth, right there). We just limp along, and do the best we can. But we laugh all the time!”

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One reason Heidi’s blog is great is the way so many of us (yeah, that includes me) can relate to the things she writes, like her view on being a home maker: “I hate to cook. I hate to clean. I’m not a fantastic homemaker. For some women, mothering and childcare and homemaking come easily and they write these gorgeous blogs about the beautiful moments of clarity they have while dishwashing and organizing their sewing rooms. I admire these women so much, but that just isn’t me. My blog tends to show the ridiculousness of a person like me trying to do what all those natural mothers do so well.”

I’ve been thinking lately about talents and I’ve come to the conclusion that the working definition of talents is seriously short (and also, by the working definition of talented, I’m so not talented). 1) Reading--I think this should be considered a talent, and not just a time-waster, and here’s why: I read a lot. So quit thinking I’m lazy. I’m just extremely, extremely talented. When we first got married, Rhett asked me to teach him how to speed read. I laughed in his face, because here’s the secret recipe: Read for six hours every day of your whole childhood, embracing the faux friendship of fictional characters like Anne of Avonlea, Jo March, and Nancy Drew to assuage the pain of the fact that you have no friends in the real world. Repeat, repeat, repeat. FOR YEARS. YEARS, I SAY! 2) Housekeeping--Most people think that if you’re not good at this you are just lazy. But that’s not really it. You’re just not talented. Some people (Mom, I’m looking at you!) have a natural gift for organization and cleaning and stuff, and they really find joy in being all clean and on top of the laundry. These are the GT (gifted and talented) homemakers. Then, there’s people like me who think, “I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher today. What more do you want from me?” These are the LD (learning disabled) homemakers. One of the ladies in my book club has wrinkled fingers from using Windex like twenty-seven times a day. She swears it’s a curse, and I’m all like “Windex? I think I have a bottle in the garage. Rhett uses it on the van windows.” See the difference between the talented and the untalented? It’s pretty obvious. 3) Scheduling--I have a friend who keeps her whole life in her head: hair appointments, doctor appointments, car maintenance, everything. That girl has talents, no? I have another friend who keeps her schedule on her calendar and never misses anything because she is religious about checking her calendar. She is performing at grade-level, methinks. And then there’s me: I keep a meticulous calendar and forget to check it, therefore missing probably 30% of my appointments. I wish I were kidding, but a couple of weeks ago I forgot Spe had school in the morning until the carpool showed up. Because we’ve only been doing this for eight months now.

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I don’t think I’m paranoid, really. Except sometimes I wonder. Like the other night I pulled into my subdivision and the car that was behind me on the main road pulled into my subdivision, too. Instead of thinking, “Hey, neighbor!” I immediately assumed it was a stalker. Especially when it turned on to the road that leads to my road right after I did. I was all like, “Quit following me, you freak!” So of course, I passed my street so that freak wouldn’t know where I lived. Or at least so they would think I lived in a different house from my real house, because I’m not above pulling into someone else’s driveway and acting like I’m home. I might even check the mailbox, just to complete the facade. Except that person wasn’t really following me. They turned off at the next street. So I sheepishly did a U-turn and drove back to my real house with my real children. I don’t tell Rhett about these things. I think they might worry him.

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Heidi will keep you laughing through each post. (Although she has an occasional serious moment, as we all do.) She says, “Even though I haven’t worked as a high school teacher for almost five years, I still consider myself a teacher. I’m working on a master’s degree right now in Reading Education. I’m interested in politics, women’s equality around the world, religion, and education equality in the United States. Wow, this makes me sound like a really boring person. I am that, too, sometimes.”

I’m trying to raise an independent, strong-minded, feisty girl over here (heavy on the feisty). So on a feminist scale, how bad is it that she knows (and belts) all the words to “It’s Raining Men”? It’s okay because the song objectifies men instead of women, right?

Right? I have a phobia. Like a real one that makes me do crazy things that no normal person would do. It’s not the fear of heights, people, or spiders. I have a serious fear of alligators and crocodiles. I mean, a SERIOUS FEAR of alligators and crocodiles. I have never lived in a place where either alligators or crocodiles are indigenous. I technically have never had anything to fear. However, this does not keep me from taking anti-crocodile measures. For example, if I can help it (and I usually can) I don’t take baths or showers in lower level bathrooms. Another anti-crocodile technique that I use: I never, NEVER, NEVER go swimming in the deep ends of pools. Because, again, you never can tell when a rogue crocodile will have picked your pool to take a nap in. This was true even when I lived in Las Vegas, where no wild crocodile has ever been spotted. My parents have a lovely pool, but I stay in the shallow end. This has become less noticeable now that I have children, because everyone thinks that I just am staying close to them because I’m so protective. I know the truth, though. I am really avoiding the crocodiles that lurk in the drain.

If I were a doctor, I’d be a really crappy one. Because the sight of blood makes me sick, and also, I’m just not that sympathetic. I probably would diagnose half my clientele with hypochondria. Really. When Rhett stays home from work sick it makes me so mad that he lays in bed all day that he forces himself to get up so that I won’t keep coming into the room, glaring, sighing loudly, banging things, etc. Poor baby. If I were a zookeeper, I’m pretty sure that I’d play favorites. You know, keep the big gorilla from bullying the others (I’m aware that I would forfeit my life if I tried to PHYSICALLY force him not to, but hello! that’s why we have shock collars! It’s time those bully animals learn what it feels like!) I’ve always had a thing about underdogs and sticking up for the weakest link. If I were a piece of punctuation, I’d choose to be the semi-colon. Because, you know, it’s pretty powerful, being able to link two sentences together without any help. And plus, it doesn’t get used that much, and I’m kind of lazy that way. If I were a construction worker, I’m pretty sure they’d make me just hold the slow/stop sign. Because, again, I’m kind of lazy that way. And you know what? I’d bring treats, drinks, books to read, and a chair to sit in. No one said you have to STAND to do that job. And if they tried to make me stand, I’d quit. Because you can’t push around this slow/ stop sign girl like that. Oh no, you can’t. If I were a businesswoman, I’d make sure that I wore bookish looking glasses all the time, even though my vision is 20/20. Just so people would take me seriously. And because you can give better dirty looks when you’re wearing glasses.

Review by Melissa Bastow All photos and quotations from Heidi Hadley or hadleyesque.blogspot.com and subject to copyright.

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photography at it’s finest Award-winning children’s photographer

Marissa Vargason describes her photographic style as pure and simple. 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 Areas, including North Salt Lake, Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington, Layton,

Syracuse,

Roy,

Clinton,

West

Point, South Ogden, North Ogden and surrounding areas. “I am a photographer whose passion is capturing life as art. I love to capture people being real, having real moments and being able to turn their photographs into art! I have a special place in my heart for newborns! I love photographing them, maybe its the purity of them, the wrinkles, the curled up innocence- I just love it!” Marissa finds her inspiration from clients themselves. “Each child, person, or family has a special energy. I really like to focus on whom that person is, and really capture that in a photograph. Its so important for me to capture my subjects personality, emotions, and feelings so that when you look at a photograph, I bring you right back to that specific moment in time. Ever ywhere I go, shop, look, or any moment I experience allows me to see the little details that I want to preser ve forever! Imagine that sweet voice of your child, their favorite toys, their infectious laugh, now that ’s life.”

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Marissa


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You can see more of photography on her blog:

Marissa’s

fabulous

http://marissavargasonphotography.com/blog For more information about sessions and pricing, please visit her website:

www.marissavargasonphotography.com

Review by Michelle Laird • The photos featured were approved by the photographer and are subject to copyright.

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crochet THAT

E

E

This is the ASI ST hat you’ll ever crochet. b y, M e l i s s a B a s t o w All you need are some very basic crocheting skills, and you should be able to complete this hat with ease. FINISHED HAT SIZE: toddler YARN: lightweight, two colors (I use Caron Simply Soft) HOOK SIZE: H or I DIRECTIONS: • Chain 70 & attach to the beginning of the chain to form one big ring. • Single Crochet around the chain ring, 70 stitches. • When you get to the end of this (and every) row, continue crocheting, to keep a continuous loop going around your hat.

• Complete 7 rows of single crochet & switch colors. • Switch colors again after completing 7 more rows. • Contiue switching colors every 7 rows until you have 5 complete stripes.

At this point, your hat should look like a long AND unimpressive tube. • Tie off and cut your yarn, then turn your hat inside out (you’ll want to be working on the inside for this next part. • Flatten your hat so that the “back” is centered in the back. (The back will be the part with all the knots from changing colors.) • Using yarn, “sew” across the top of the hat. There are multiple ways to “sew” something with yarn. All I do is get the yarn on my hook, and then single crochet along the top grabbing both sides in each stitch. • Tie off and turn the hat right side out. Pull on your corners to make sure they’re turned all the way out. • Attach yarn to the bottom of your hat with the opposite color of the bottom stripe (I always attach it to the existing yarn tail in the back). • Single crochet around the bottom of the hat, slip stitch to the first single crochet when you finish your row. • (Chain 2, skip a stitch, slip stitch) around . Then tie off and trim all of your yarn tails. • Attach the pom poms to each top corner by pulling the tails from the tie into the hat and knot inside. Space each tail apart a little so you don’t end up with floppy pom poms.

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TO CREATE THE POM POMS: First, make a bunch of strands of the same length in both colors of yarn. You’ll want these to be about twice as long as you want to end up with. Then fold those strands in half, tie a long piece of yarn around the middle. Tie it tight on one side, turn, tie it tight on that side, turn again and tie double or triple knots. (These will need to be TIGHT.) Don’t cut the ends of this piece of yarn, you’ll need it later. Then cut the loops and trim the ends.


...or something like it

by, Michelle Laird

Being a new mom, and after going through the whole maternity phase, I am struggling to find a way to get back in style. It’s always hard knowing if I should buy KID clothes or ME clothes. (Most always the kid gets the clothes!) But I say if you can find a cheap place that won’t let you down on the new styles, then you may be able to sneak in a few little guiltless pleasures for yourself. Speaking of little guiltless pleasures, I have just found this new site!! Go check it out at

www.discountwomensdressshoes.com I am getting some new boots! I love the prices! Besides boots they also have CHEAP purses, Jewelry, hair accessories, shirts, sandals and dresses. And if you didn’t get to play dress up enough during Halloween, they have a ton of costumes as well. Mostly, I would like to focus on the shoes. Oh the shoes. And now you don’t have to haul your children to all your favorite discount department stores to find a good deal. You can find it in the comfort of your own home! Also orders over $60.00 get free shipping!! With Christmas being around the corner I know now I’ll be sneaking a few things for myself from www.discountwomensdressshoes.com.

Look for future fashion tips and highlights every month. Because we’re experts on the subject, or at least our families and friends haven’t volunteered us for the show “What Not to Wear”....yet.

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esigns Blog D OF THE MONTH

These are some of our favorite blog designs from some of our favorite blog designers.

www.crumbsintheminivan.com Blogger: Cynthia Crumb Blog Design by: April Showers • www.aprilshowersblogdesign.com Artwork by: Lindsay Heinzen • www.penguinstandsalone.blogspot.com

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janaerunyon.blogspot.com

Blogger: Janae • Blog Design by: Leelou Blogs at l e e l o u b l o g s . b l o g s p o t . c o m

s e v e n c l o w n c i r c u s . c o m

Blogger: Angie • Blog Design by:SMD Blog & Web Design at www.seemydesignsbyshauna.com

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POTTY TALK embarrassment served in a porcelain bowl

Funniest bathroom story, EVER. From the queen of all bathroom stories, Shelle, at: b l o k t h o u g h t s n m o r e . b l o g s p o t . c o m I was at this guys house that I liked. A. LOT. We can call him Connor. Connor was hot...hot body and hot hair. The guys locks were prettier than mine...and the thing that made him MOST sexy...is he didn’t even care, he was rugged. Connor lived in an older house. It’s was probably around 10:00pm. And we had just decided on a movie we wanted to watch. All I remember is it was a comedy...not much for a romantic atmosphere...but it wasn’t like we could do much because I wasn’t the ONLY one there...my friend was with me. Well, we had Mexican food for dinner...Cafe Rio, (one of my FAVORITES)--and my stomach was starting to tell me that it needed to dispose of the stuff, and soon. Being the lady I am...I had been holding in my flatulence for some time...and my belly was starting to protest. EVERYTHING in there seem to be cramping. So just putting in the movie and before getting settled down...I decided to go to the bathroom. I should have stuck with my chances of bursting my appendix or stomach or something...because what happened next will be embedded in my mind for all time. I still get a little sicked out when I think about it. Remember I’m in an old house. I find the bathroom, let myself in, close the door, LOCK the door, and proceed with business. Which went along nicely...no need to fret with that. But I will say, I emptied out a lot, one of those really good ones where you feel 10 lbs lighter. Then I flushed. IT started swirling around VERY slowly... And then NOTHING! I softly, under my breath, said, OH CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! Then I’m stuck with the decision...Do I flush again? Or do I wait a minute and see if all of sudden the toilet decided to do its job and flush itself? Then I thought “PLUNGER!” I frantically start ripping open cabinets. NO PLUNGER! CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! So...I did it guys...I attempted to flush again. Then the WORST of possible WORSTS happened. The stuff didn’t go down, but slowly made it’s way to the top of the toilet bowl! Like, slow motion slow, like it was taking its time for my inevitable doom! Laughing at me...mocking me... It finally crept to the top of the toilet bowl and over the side!!! And then it was like time caught up to me and it started FLOODING the bathroom...and I JUMPED on the counter! All I could think was, “Only yuck, gross, disgusting people clog toilets! When I yell for help, and unlock the door, I might as well have warts and a GREMLIN face because that is what I will look like to them...they will be completely disgusted with me...” As I sat there in complete shock...somewhere in the back of my brain I knew I needed to call for help! But I didn’t. I just sat there, on the top of the counter, with my knees up to my chest and my chin on my knees. The water evenutally stopped coming down, and there was a nice puddle of greenish-brownish...(Well, use your imagination).. around the toilet, but that is about it... While I was sitting there, contemplating suicide or at least a quiet escape, there came a soft knock...knock, knock, FREAKIN’ knock. I stiffened, froze, HORROR struck...I thought, “If I don’t move, don’t say a word, maybe they will go away, maybe...just maybe...a HOLE will open up in this sink and swallow me...OH PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bless that a hole will swallow me...PLEASE, I won’t ask for another thing in my LIFE...Just PLEASE get me out of this!!!”

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“Uh, Shelle, is everything all right? I think I heard the toilet clog...do you need some help? You flushed it a second time so it probably flooded huh? It’s my fault, I should have warned you that if it didn’t flush to just to leave it for about 15 minutes and then it will flush down...I’m sorry...” CONNOR! “Connor?” “Yea, do you want to unlock this so I can see the damage?” I started crying, and not pretty crying where it slowly rolls down my cheeks and my wide blue eyes glisten in the light... No, nothing like that... But SOBBING...UNCONTROLLABLE...UGLY crying. “Shelle?” he laughs, “don’t cry...it’s really not a big deal. It happens all the time. Just unlock the door and I’ll give you a hand with it.” He LAUGHED at me...if I had dared to let myself out of that bathroom I would have thrown my skinny bodychicken legged self at him and clawed his eyes out... “Are you out of your MIND!!!” I yelled, or something similar to that statement, “there is no WAY I am letting you in here to see this mess...it STINKS, and I’m totally EMBARRASSED already...so FORGET it! Just tell me where the cleaning stuff is and I’ll take care of it!....please” Then nothing...it’s like Connor abandoned me. “Connor?” Still nothing. CRAP! Was he going to get a spare key to open the door? Was he going to get his Mom? CRAP! Where was he? What was he doing? I was hiccuping at this point...my eyes were red and swollen, and my fair Irish freckled skin was blotchy...the only thing I had going for me was that I had worn water-proof mascara! I think I sat there for a good 10 minutes while my FECAL matter sat puddled around the toilet, (linoleum floors... so that was good) and the water was slowly receding inside the toilet bowl. And then, like after any GOOD cry, my brain started to function again. And I thought it was time to look for cleaning supplies...but before I could HOP down off the counter, Connor came back and started playing with the lock and in 3.2 seconds the guy had the door opened and was smiling at me! I jumped down from the counter...feet splashing in the puddle, because it would have been too SMART of me to jump even 2 inches forward so that I didn’t hit the fecal matter puddle...”AAAAACCCCKKKK! CONNOR! Get out!” He just laughed! Like a gut wrenching laugh! And turned around to grab some supplies he had brought with him to clean up. “Please Connor...let me clean this up...please leave...your KILLING me here!” And as if I hadn’t said anything at all...he just began to clean it up. I, of course, helped him, humiliated and grossed out. It didn’t take long...and the toilet flushed...THE TRAITOR...as soon as Connor began cleaning, so all became well again. Until Connor got up from cleaning the last of the puddle. He just smiled at me and said, “You do stink!” scrunched his nose, then went out in the hall and grabbed a pair of sweat pants and continued, “so put these on, give me your pants, and I’ll wash them with these rags. And NO worries, this is our little secret...but you will owe me...” then winked, turned, and walked out the bathroom door. Okay, he didn’t wink...but he did leave me as I sputtered after him saying, “What do you mean I will owe you? Like pay for damages? Owe you how?” ....But he just closed the door.

If you have a funny (G-Rated) bathroom story you would like to share, email Melissa: melissabastow@hotmail.com

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. . f o s e iv h c r a e h t m o r f Mombabe Bingham • http://www.thebinghamdiaries.com Baby Name Consultants? Really? Monday, November 19, 2007 I saw this on the news and frankly, I’m baffled. BAFFLED!!! You can now pay to have someone find a name for your baby! The consultant will do ALL the research for you! Seriously? When I was pregnant, not only did I pour over baby books. (And the bible. And pretty much any written text ever.) But just about everyone I met gave me “suggestions” “Oh, I’ve always liked Mansfield.” “How about Treasure?” “What about Jaoewurxkn?” Okay, I made that last one up, but come on! There’s not a pregnant woman alive that hasn’t been smothered by well-meaning women giving unsolicited advice. After all, she raised 87 stellar children and she just knows exactly what information you need. And in my case, (which means I know I’m not the only one...) I think the only advice that was remotely helpful was “Breathe. Breathe and Laugh.” You know what 1st time pregnant women need a consult on? Labor. Labor and Delivery. No one told me that after I had a baby, I was going to gush blood for 9 weeks. No one filled me in on the fact that babies generally have a “honeymoon phase” where they’re really really nice for the first week, then they wake up. No one told me that I was going to be scared to use the restroom because I might accidently have all my innards fall into the loo! Pregnant woman are BOMBARDED with advice. What diapers to use... Whether or not to breastfeed... How your baby should sleep... How to get your baby on a routine... The advice ranges from everyday basics, such as “make sure to wash your hands!” (duh) to hypothetically speaking, “when your child happens to one day step on a rattlesnake that swallowed a rusty nail and a crow that was infected with bird flu, whilst drinking a bottle of pepermint schnopff’s!” this is how to handle the situation! I just don’t see the need for a baby name consultant when you could ask anyone and everyone you meet. Not that you’d need to ask...

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The Barrel:Blogging Reviews Nov 2010  

A magazine for bloggers. Shedding some light on a few noteworthy blogs and (hopefully) entertaining our readers with other tidbits related...

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