Fear and Loathing in the Swimsuit Aisle

It’s time.  I have to buy a new bathing suit.  This isn’t an endeavor I approach lightly nor with little planning.  How do I put it?  I HATE bathing suit shopping.  The main reason?  I hate bathing suits.  I don’t know whose idea they were, but they are really a modern day form of torture.  But, warmer weather is fast approaching, and the day when the girls ask to get back in the pool is just around the corner.  I’ve lost some weight, and my already slightly stretched out suits are not going to cut it for another season.

I went through the ads on Sunday, and saw that Target has every swimsuit on sale this week.  If I have to buy one, at least it can be cheap, right? Armed with the knowledge of a potential bargain, I headed to Target yesterday.

Enter Exhibit A.

 

OMG, this is what I have to work with?  Is that a bouquet of flowers pinned to a bra?  Seriously?  OK, so, yes, suits like this one left me feeling very, very old.  I mean, do people actually wear suits like this?  There were a myriad of similar little tops, covered with animal print and sequins and ruffles.  After scouring all the choices, I found four somewhat age appropriate tankinis.  They all covered my midsection (an absolute requirement!), so I figured I had a fighting chance of finding a winner.  I was confident enough that I was willing to overlook the fact that my back would have been almost completely exposed in all of them.  Then, I put the first one on.  It was made for a boob-less toothpick!  There was no way I would parade around in that at home, let alone in public.

My dear friend Apple hit the nail on the head when she said that no single item of clothing can make you hate yourself the way the female swimsuit does.  There is no room for hiding any flaws, and they cause you to flaunt parts of your body that normally are not exposed to daylight.  And, post-childbirth, they are even scarier than before, because there are a lot more spots to hide!

Unfortunately, my quest isn’t over.  I left without a suit.  I still need one, so there is more fear and loathing in my future.

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Silent Sunday

In a Dinner Rut? Some Quick Fixes

Are you tired of eating – and cooking – the same exact meals night after night, week after week?  Does it feel like you could cook each night with your eyes closed?

Here are some easy solutions:

 (1)  Re-create your restaurant favorites

Let’s face it.  We often eat out because need a break from cooking.  But, we also eat out because we like the food.  Yesterday, I had no idea what to make for dinner and thought about some favorite meals when I go out.  I really enjoy a lot of restaurant salads and decided to re-create Barbecued Chicken Salad, a meal I have ordered at several different restaurants.  It’s always on a base of regular house salad – lettuce, cucumber, tomato, shredded cheese.  Then, there’s usually corn and black beans, so I open up a can of each of those (and rinsed the beans).  Then, I coated 2 chicken breasts with a favorite barbecue sauce and grilled them on the George Foreman grill.  To top it off, I put a little barbecue sauce in to a bowl with ranch dressing.  Voila!  I had barbecue ranch dressing without having to buy an entire specialty bottle.  I also made my version of California Pizza Kitchen’s BLT pizza a couple weeks ago.  It was just as tasty, a ton cheaper, and added some variety to our dinner menu.

Try re-creating some of your favorite restaurant meals at home.  Think about the different toppings you have had on pizzas, the different ways you have seen pasta prepared, and the restaurant sandwiches you really enjoy.  Bring those in to your own kitchen.

(2)  Flip through those cookbooks

If you’re anything like me, you have a huge stack of cookbooks.  Open one of them, and flip through it.   You don’t have to make anything in it, but I find it tends to help me generate a lot of ideas to help mix things up.  I may see 2 ingredients combined in a way I never would have thought of, such as a pork and nectarine stir fry I came across.  Sometimes, I also come across a recipe that will remind me of a dish I used to make, before I entered my current rut.

(3)  Turn on the TV

I can’t watch the Food Network for a half hour without seeing some new technique or cooking method that I have never tried.  I have picked up such ideas as roasting cherry tomatoes to put on salads or pasta and boiling green beans with my pasta (same water at the same time) and then tossing them both with pesto.  (Although mine comes from a jar, not a food processor.  Sorry, Rachael!)

(4)  Take matters in to your own hands

I have a friend who recognized she was in a rut and asked for help.  She sent out a note to several of her mom friends on Facebook and asked us what we have been cooking lately.  She asked us to send her recipes for favorites in our own rotations that she could add to hers.  Not only did we help her out, but we also got to read what everyone else was making to expand our own cooking repertoire.

I also subscribe to daily emails from

These recipes have been posted by home cooks, and many of them are reviewed.  They feature a recipe each day, and at least half of them seem worth trying.  I love having new recipes to try, and I love it even more when they’re tried and true successes.

These methods certainly work for me!  Have your own tips or methods?  Please feel free to share them here! 

Happy Valentine's Day

If you’re like me, you have a busy day — parties with playgroups or at school, dinner plans, trying to find a few minutes with your significant other to actually tell each other you’re still in love.  So, I am giving you a short entry today.  It’s a list of things you can do to make Valentine’s Day special for your young children.

1)  Have a special dessert.  Something you would normally never let your toddler eat.  Think Death by Chocolate.

2)  Dress up your kiddo for the occasion. Admittedly, this is easier with girls, with hearts and bows and pink.  But, with a boy, just put him in a nice red shirt, and everyone will know you remembered what day it is.

3)  Get out the construction paper and make good old fashioned valentines.  You don’t even have to give them away, but cut out paper hearts, cover them with stickers, paper doilies, and marker or crayon drawing, and you have a memorable holiday keepsake.

4)  Take your kid on a date.  Babysitters are super busy on Valentine’s Day.  Pick a different night to go out with your own valentine (think cheaper dinner specials and shorter restaurant waits) and take your kiddo out on a date.  Think about his/her favorite foods and what restaurants won’t be full of couples on romantic dates.

5)  Give your child a valentine.  Dads, give your daughters flowers.  It’s sweet.  And a wonderful tradition.  Buy your kids a small heart full of candy or maybe a Valentine’s-themed book.

6)  Go for the cheese.  Turn on some music and dance the night away with each other.

7)  Have hot cocoa and storytime.  Fireside. 

8)  Call loved ones and let your kids talk on the phone.  Nothing like a long distance “I wuv you” to melt Grandma’s heart.

9)  Make your children a special breakfast.  Maybe try your hand at heart-shaped pancakes.  Hopefully, they’ll turn out better than my attempt this weekend.  (Let’s just say that no amount of 3-year-old imagination could remotely see a heart in any of those pancakes!)

10)  Spend some extra quality time together.  Read one more book at bedtime, or let that bath go an extra couple of minutes.  Just because.

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers!

Make Your Own Playdough

If you are looking for a fun activity to do with your kids that has some lasting power, try making playdough with them.  There are several recipes out there, but this is one I have used successfully.

Kool-Aid Playdough

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 packages of Kool-Aid (small, unsweetened)   (This is the source of your color, so choose wisely)

1 T. plus 1 1/2 teas. cream of tartar

Mix these 4 ingredients together.

Pour in:

2 cups boiling water

1 T. plus 1 1/2 teas. vegetable oil

Stir, then knead when thick.

Store in airtight container once it’s cool.  You can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.  (I use a Ziploc bag.)

Just like any other playdough that you have used before, it can be rolled out, cut in to shapes, and molded in to figures.

Silent Sunday