Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy

I left yesterday on a cross-country road trip and will be back with how that is going tomorrow.  Tonight, I have a book review to share with you through my association with Litfuse.  The book is called Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson.  

About the Book: The bestselling author of Suck Your Stomach In ; Put Some Color On! returns with more helpful how-to's and keen observations from Dixie .
Guided by principles from the ancient Belle Doctrine, the host of radio and television's All Things Southern offers down-home advice on everything from health and fitness-managing thy caloric calculations without going Straight Running Crazy and surviving the Raging Inferno Syndrome (aka hot flashes)-to the Southern art of handling your man (Bubba Whispering). Whether giving business tips or debunking the Big Boned Theory, making political observations or celebrating the inevitable resurgence of big hair, Shellie is an adviser women can relate to and laugh with regardless of their age or which side of the Mason-Dixon they call home.

About the author:  Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and her husband Phil live and farm in the Louisiana Delta. Shellie is the author of Lessons Learned on Bull Run Road, Twas the Night Before the Very First Christmas, Southern Comfort with Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and the Penguin Group USA release, Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, voted Nonfiction Finalist of 2009 by SIBA Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Tomlinson is owner and publisher of All Things Southern and the host of the weekly radio show All Things Southern as well as a weekly video segment by the same name. Listeners also hear Shellie in her All Things Southern radio segments aired across the South. Shellie writes a weekly inspirational feature in Newsstar and a monthly print and online column for Lousiana Road Trips.

When Shellie isn't writing, speaking, taping her show, answering email or writing content for the next deadline, you can find her playing tennis with Dixie Belle, (the chocolate lab who thinks she is in charge of running Shellie's life). 

My thoughts: I found this book to be very funny and charming at the same time.  While it is classified as a self-help book, the author herself struggles with using that term to describe her story telling and I have to agree.  I have trouble deciding exactly how *I* would classify it, but it is part humor, part cookbook, and part Southern living (lifestyle?).  I also found that while the book uses Southern euphemisms throughout the book, those who are not from the south can still relate.  I don't call guys  "Bubba", nor do I use the phrase "Straight-running-crazy", but I know who my Bubba is and I know a few people who are straight-running crazy.
My recommendation: This is a great read for those who like a light read.  It is a raw look into southern generalizations, yet it is still lovely.  If you are a Southern Belle, or even just a Belle-at-heart, I am sure you will enjoy this book.

To celebrate the Sue Ellen’s release, Shellie is having a Facebook Party!  
Join Shellie and the gang on June 2nd at 5:00 PM PST (6 MST, 7 CST, 8 EST) for a Southern style shin-dig! She'll be dishing on Bubba Whispering, debunking the Big Boned Theory, and how to manage going Straight Running Crazy. If you don't know what any of that is, then be sure to pick up a copy of the book (Not necessary to join the fun! Who knows - you might win a copy!) and join us at 5:00 pm on June 2nd at Shellie's Facebook page. And tell your friends - she's giving away copies of her books and some great gift certificates.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse and the author in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The versatility of pasta

I love pasta!  Not only is it inexpensive, but it is so versatile.  You can eat it hot or cold; with red sauce, white sauce, or lightly tossed with oil or mayo or salad dressing; and you can add just about anything to it to create a plethora of dishes.  My new favorite pasta dish is a Greek pasta toss, which can be eaten hot, but is even better the next day, eaten cold.  I created it one day when I had to go shopping, but also had a huge jar of Kalamata olives and a big tub of feta to use up.  Here is the recipe:

2 - 6 ounce cans of tuna, drained
1- 16 ounce box of rotini pasta (can substitute other shapes), cooked and drained
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 clove minced garlic
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 a fresh lemon, juiced and zested (you can omit the zest and use bottled juice, but fresh is best)
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (adjust to taste)

1) Combine pasta, olives, pine nuts, garlic, basil, parsley and lemon zest.
2) Toss gently with olive oil and lemon juice.
3) Sprinkle feta on top.
4) Serve hot, or refrigerate and serve cold :)

Speaking of pasta dishes, Carrabba's has a fun Pasta Personality Quiz up on their facebook page.  I took it and received these results:

"You’re truly one of a kind, like Carrabba’s Penne Franco. You like to keep things fresh and exciting. So next time you want to try something new, choose our unique Penne Franco: penne with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and ricotta salata."

Check out Carrabba's other Signature Pasta Meals, featuring seven distinctive dishes served with choice of soup or fresh salad starting at $10. There’s no better place than Carrabba’s to enjoy a complete Italian meal – any day of the week.

CARRABBA’S PASTA: Carrabba’s makes every pasta dish by hand with the freshest ingredients.  Pasta is cooked perfectly every time and signature sauces are made from scratch daily. Creative flavors and combinations of ingredients are part of Carrabba’s authentic family recipes as well as new creations.

LIMITED TIME OFFERS: Now through July 2011.
Featured Signature Pasta Meal:
Pasto Rambo – Named for the chef who created it, it’s made with shrimp tossed with imported Italian linguine, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes sautéed in our basil lemon butter sauce. Lobster is available instead of shrimp for an additional cost.

Other Limited Time Offers:
Parmesan-crusted Chicken – Topped with fresh arugula and grape tomatoes tossed in a hand-prepared lemon vinaigrette, served with choice of side. Substitution of wood-grilled chicken also available. Pairs well with Estancia Pinot Grigio.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin – Three pork tenderloin medallions wrapped with prosciutto, wood-grilled and topped with an apple and fig infused port wine sauce, served with the vegetable of the day. Pairs well with Coppola Pinot Noir.

Limoncello Bread Pudding – Back by popular demand! Brioche bread pudding made with fresh Madagascar vanilla beans and a rich custard, served hot out of the oven. Topped with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream and drizzled with Carrabba’s homemade Caravella Limoncello liqueur sauce.

Now Introducing:
Peach SangriaCarrabba’s new light and fruity Peach Sangria blends Copper Ridge White Zinfandel, Absolut Apeach vodka and Patrón Citrónge with a splash of citrus. Topped with a fresh lemon wedge and strawberry, it’s a taste of the Amalfi Coast in spring.

Locations: Visit www.carrabbas.com for the closest Carrabba’s location. There are more than 230 locations nationwide.

About Carrabba’s:
Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola founded the first Carrabba’s Italian Grill in 1986 in Houston, Texas. Today, there are 232 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations around the country, run by passionate local proprietors focused on delighting guests with fresh, made-to-order Italian cuisine and the ultimate dining experience. Carrabba’s serves dinner seven nights a week in a casual environment that pairs innovative dishes and a complementary wine list with abundant hospitality. For on-the-go guests, Carrabba’s also offers convenient Carside Carry-Out. To learn more about Carrabba’s, please visit www.carrabbas.com.

Carrabba’s Pasta Personality Quiz on Facebook - Take the quiz to see how your personality compares to some of Carrabba’s signature pasta dishes!

Follow Carrabba’s on Twitter: @Carrabba’s

Carrabba’s on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Carrabbas

Whether making it at home or enjoying out at a restaurant, like Carrabba's, pasta is sure to satisfy.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Carrabba’s blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Upcoming road trip

Well, by this time next week, my family and I will be heading out on another cross-country road trip.  Two years ago, we did this and traveled from Rochester, NY to Bellingham, WA and back again.  We took I-80 on the way there and I-90 on the way back.  We stopped a few places each way, but the big landmark we visited was Mt. Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  This year, we are taking a less direct route to Bellingham.  First, we are heading to the historic town of Nauvoo, IL for a little church history and then on to Albuquerque, NM.  From New Mexico, we are heading to the Grand Canyon and then up the coast of California to see the Redwood Forest.  From there, we will had up to Bellingham.  After a short stay visiting family in Bellingham, we will head back to NY via I-80.

With 4 young kids in tow, it was difficult to convince me that vacation was the proper term for what we were about to do.  Crazy, insane, or difficult all seemed like more fitting words.  However, having done this in 2009, we discovered just how much fun road trips can be.  The most important things to remember is to bring snacks, but limit drinks (in order to reduce the need for bathroom breaks); have plenty of in-car entertainment, such as books on tape, a few DVDs, some fun songs, and the classic road trip games like I Spy, car bingo, etc; and stop often and explore along the way.  Take in the sites of this great country.

Twizzlers is holding a Summer Landmarks Promotion, where you could win a a trip to a well-known United States destination plus daily, road trip-themed prizes throughout the summer.  I love some of the ideas they have come up with for this promotion too.  Such as The Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Arch:

When considering road trip snacks, be sure to include Twizzlers.  They are low-fat, don't melt in the heat, come in a variety of flavors to please everyone, and just taste great.

By sharing this post, I am entering a contest for a Twizzlers Landmark Summer promotion prize pack as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Making It Better Monday: Touch it Once

I am hoping your weeks of getting in the habit of closing doors, drawers and cabinets have productive.  My kids have definitely improved in doing this and I plan to keep it going.  It makes such a difference in the appearance of a room!

This week, I am planning to work on the Touch it Once rule.  This means dealing with things, such as mail, just once.  I began doing this with my mail about a year ago and for the most part have done a pretty good job of it.  However, there are some parts where I struggle.  Here is how it would ideally go:

Step 1- Check the mail and bring it into the house.  This means, do not bring it out to the van, even if I am heading out the door.  If I absolutely feel the need to bring it to the van, it MUST come back in the house with me and be dealt with immediately upon returning home. (Can you tell this is one area where I struggle?)

Step 2- Sort mail immediately upon bringing it in.  I place my husband's mail on his pillow so that he is certain to find it when he gets home and the kids will not accidentally grab it and use it to color on.

Step 3- Pay or file any bills; if any mail requires making a phone call, make it right then or at least write it in your schedule with any pertinent information (phone #, account #, reason for call, etc) that you need so that you may get rid of the piece of mail; file away any coupons or checks received so that you can use them during your next trip out; put away any samples or other items received; and deal with any miscellaneous mail in an appropriate manner.

Step 4- Shred any mail with personal information on it and recycle the rest.  If you reuse the envelopes or packaging materials, immediately put them in the place where you keep them.  Also, be certain you are not hoarding these items.  The mail service is not ending anytime soon.  More envelopes will come, probably tomorrow.  Only keep the amount of envelopes that you will actually use. (This is another area that is starting to get away from me.  Not only do I have a ton of envelopes, I do not always put them where they belong right away.)

Another area where the touch it once rule works is dirty laundry.  If you immediately put it in the hamper/down the laundry chute when you take it off, it will not be on the floor/on the counter/hanging from a lamp later, therefore making the house cleaner.  The same goes with dirty dishes.  Hand wash them or put them in the dishwasher as soon as you are done using them.  This keeps the sink clear and keeps the food from getting crusted on, decreasing the amount of time spent washing dishes.

So, for the next week, I am going to purge my stash of envelopes to a reasonable amount and work on bringing the mail into the house, not the van.  I am also going to work on getting my family in the habit of dealing with their laundry and dishes as soon as they are finished with them.  I expect that this will result in fewer pieces of "missing" laundry, as well as a reduced work load when it comes to overall housework.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I just became an aunt again for the 9th time.  My sister gave birth to baby Caleb this week and I am looking forward to buying baby toys again.  One place I am certain to shop for unique toys is eBeanstalk.  They offer baby toys, toddler toys, and kids toys, something for every child from birth to age 12. You can even choose to view the toys by recommended age, divided by every 3 months of age from 1-3 years and by each year from 4-12.  If you are not sure of what milestones a child reaches at certain ages, there is even a chart available to show you what is most common.  That is helpful if you are buying ahead of time and/or you buy for a child who you may not see on a regular basis. 

With so many nephews (and 1 niece), birthdays tend to have a way of sneaking up on me.  eBeanstalk even has a way to help with that.  You can enter the birthdays of the kids you buy gifts for into their birthday calendar and they will remind you in plenty of time to choose and receive a thoughtful gift.  This will be great when I start shopping for toys for 1 year olds next May. 

I am rather impressed with the eBeanstalk website. Many online stores limit how you can look at their products. It may be by age, or by category, or by brand. On eBeanstalk, you can search any of those ways. The only thing I wish they had was a way to then narrow the search by price. They also have a great variety of products, that are different from what you find other places, including learning toys, eco-friendly toys, and toys made in the USA.  Their prices are also pretty fair and standard shipping is free with a $75 purchase.  While I have yet to place an order with them, they appear to be pretty accessible and encourage customers to call with any questions, whether it be about an already placed order, or even if you just need some advice as to what to buy.  I do know of others who have been please with both the products and the speed of shipping as well.

I was offered a $25 gift card to eBeanstalk in exchange for my honest review of their website.