July

Meet the Author: Caroline Girls

 

 

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Heather Chastain is a CityMom and the author of Caroline Girls. She took a few minutes out of her whirlwind schedule and book promotion to chat with us!

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Question: What inspired you to write Caroline Girls?

Answer: Writing Caroline Girls is something that came to me organically. Once my little Caroline turned about 2 – 2 1/2, I realized her personality was emerging in a comical way. I don’t know what it was about her particular age … maybe the fact she was starting to express herself in a way I could actually understand or the fact she was simply developing into a toddler … but her antics were proving to provide me with entertaining Facebook posts. If even just for my friends and family.

 

After many, many looooonnng days of toddler parenting, I decided to try to take my frustration out in a positive way. I’d heard it a million times: “The days are long, but the years are short.” So I knew despite my aggravation, I needed to try and cherish these moments. Mentally, I started forming these stories. But I just didn’t see how it was going to come together.

 

Well, little Caroline LOVED wearing dresses. Every. Single. Day. Even in the winter, we had to pair leggings with them. One day, wearing a new dress I had purchased at Target, she looked down at the skirted part and said, “Look mom, there are Caroline Girls on my dress!” That’s when the light bulb went off! I decided to call the story “Caroline Girls.”


Question: You have a background in journalism and media, but was making the transition to children's author difficult? What made you decide to take this journey?

Answer: Writing a book was never on my list of goals. My senior year of college, I decided I wanted to be a news producer. I was so excited to travel. I love journalism — interviewing, talking to people. Telling people what’s going on in their world is super important to me. I worked as a news producer after college, first in South Bend and later in Indianapolis, where I earned an Emmy award for my journalism. However, the late-night schedule was difficult and when my contract ended, my husband and I decided we were ready for a family and this schedule wasn’t working for me. I knew there was no I way I could raise a child on that schedule, but I still had a desire to tell stories. I started writing short novels. I even went to some conferences and worked with some publishers, but I never thought it was the right project or the right time.

 

After my daughter Caroline was born, I began writing stories based on my daughter’s personality and antics.

 

I didn’t do anything with the stories until about a year and a half ago. My husband said, ‘This is what you should do,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah, this is what I should do!’”

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Question: What has been the most rewarding aspect of publishing this book?

Answer: Seeing the lives I’ve touched. What really sent me over the edge to publish this book, besides my husband’s encouragement and insistence, was my passionate desire to change the world. I want to make a lasting impact and to do that, you really have to focus on children because they are the ones who you can most help shape. We need a world full of kindness and inclusivity and that’s what you learn in the Caroline Girls book.

 

Question: What has been the most challenging part of publishing this book?

 

Answer: Selling the book! I’m self-published and so everything falls on me. It’s exciting, exhilarating and downright exhausting! I recognized early on there was no way I could sell and market my book well without help. Honestly, the overwhelming task of getting the word out about Caroline Girls and trying to get it sold was so much it made me consider not doing it all. But, fellow theCityMom Courtney Rice offered her marketing assistance (she’s a former marketing professional), and it has made ALL the difference! She’s able to focus on marketing efforts – what’s working, what’s not; I’m networking, trying to find venues to sell the book and plan events. The selling piece is so intense. It’s so refreshing to hear Courtney’s perspective and have a clear idea of what is successful in getting the word out!

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Question: How long have you been involved with theCityMoms? What are your favorite activities to do with the group?

 

Answer: I’m a new CityMom! In fact, Courtney is the one who encouraged me to join! She has had so much fun with this group and told me I would enjoy it, too! I’ve done a few different events – a reading at Urban Chalkboard and a networking event. I absolutely adore these women! I love how incredibly inclusive they are and excited to meet new people! It’s exactly the message I’m sharing with Caroline Girls!

 

Question: What's the next chapter for Heather Chastain and Caroline Girls?

Answer: To find an agent and publish more books! I have written 5 different Caroline Girls stories and I would love to publish them! I’ve also started formulating ideas for Baby Kate stories, my other daughter! I would also love to see Caroline Girls become an entire brand – merchandise and all! I’m also super excited to get more involved with theCityMoms because you ladies ROCK!

 

 

 

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Ask Amanda: Advice for an Annoyed Wife

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Get ready for your monthly does of expert advice from Licensed Counselor Amanda Luthe Campbell. We bet you can relate to this month's topic: annoying husbands and how to approach them! Remember to click on the link at the bottom of the blog to submit your questions for upcoming posts or visit www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

Ask Amanda: Help! I love my husband, but sometimes the things he does just annoy the crap out of me. How do I nicely tell him he's getting on my last nerve?

We all agree that we love our partners. And we can all agree that, at times, they can really get on our nerves!

We've all been there.

Silently fuming,

Trying to bite our tongues,

Dying to get something off our chest,

Resentment building,

Walking around with gritted teeth wanting to give them an earful about something they've done.

Like how my husband leaves his size 12 shoes lying around and klutzy me trips over them.

Or how he leaves his phone on vibrate and I can't get a hold of him when I need him.

How he locks himself out of the apartment.

Today's Ask Amanda article gives some practical tips on letting go and what to say when that's hard to do. For more information, go to www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

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To Speak Or Not To Speak...

One way to avoid a finger-pointing fight is to first decide if the behavior is even worth mentioning.

Picking up his shoes so I don't trip over them? No.

Turning his ringer on in case I need to contact him. Yes.

Locking himself out of the apartment on a lazy Sunday morning and waiting patiently for us to get home. No.

If it's not worth bringing up, find something to distract yourself until the annoyance passes.

 

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

If you decide to say something, try these suggestions for taking the sting out of it.

 

Come to the table with some solutions.

Just expressing your feelings and pointing out a problem is not always enough to get your needs met.

Be clear and direct: "I feel overwhelmed when I have to cook dinner, do all the cleaning and the laundry. Can we divide the chores? I like to vacuum and cook, but I hate to dust. What would you be willing to do?"

 

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Try the Sandwich Technique (read more HERE). 

Let's say you're pregnant and your husband forgets about a load of laundry in the washer. Then, he just dries them anyway.

"Wow, my pregnant stomach couldn't handle the smell of those clothes in the dryer (positive because you're not blaming him).

"Next time, can you just wash them again before you dry them?" (positive because a criticism is turned into a polite question).

"That would be one less thing that makes me feel like I might throw up! Thanks! I appreciate your help!" (positive and add on a smile or hug).

 

Make It Fair

For lasting change to happen, there must be work on both parts. We have to hold ourselves to the same expectations.

On the flipside of those little digs at my husband, there are plenty of things I do that are equally irritating or senseless to him.

 

amanda_and_hubs.jpg Annoying each other for over 15 years

 

Leaving my coffee mugs everywhere.

Doing things on my phone when he's trying to talk to me.

Weird high-maintenance female things that his male brain just doesn't grasp.

So, I just try to take a deep breath of humility and make sure I'm meeting my own standards.


How does your partner annoy you?

Share in the comments below!

For more expert advice visit www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

Thanks for taking the time,

Amanda

 

Contact Amanda today to get started on the path to a happier, healthier you!

 

The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any mental health treatment, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require psychological or medical treatment, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist in your area. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. This column and its author are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.

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Ricotta, Asparagus, and Egg Pizza: Recipe of the Week
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Ricotta Asparagus and Egg Pizza
My kids love pizza night.  Sometimes we go the make your own route and use english muffins, and sometimes we just buy a pre-made crust and make a large pie to share.  Occasionally, I get tired of pepperoni and red sauce and try to class things up.  As you can see by the Desitin on the kitchen counter in the pictures below, I am the epitome of class…
Again I offer you a simple recipe where I utilize mostly prepared ingredients. I can’t really recommend brands because I think the crust is the weakest part of this recipe.  However, I stink at rolling out dough and have never been able to make a proper pizza crust.  Also, as I am cheap, I buy the prepared crust that comes two to a package.
Ingredients:
Pre-made or home made crust
olive oil spray
2/3 cup part skim ricotta
garlic (to taste)
2 tsp olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
4 eggs
parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste)
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Preheat oven to 500F.  Spray crust with olive oil spray.  Combine ricotta and garlic in a bowl and mix.  Because I am super lazy and love garlic, I buy this squeeze bottle of diced garlic.  I use a generous amount and add a pinch of sea salt as well.  Spread mixture over crust.  In another bowl combine the asparagus, cut into 1 inch strips with 2 tsp of olive oil.  Press the asparagus into the cheese mixture.  Place in oven for five minutes.  Now comes the difficult part, without removing the pizza from the oven (I just pull the rack halfway out), crack 4 eggs over the pizza.  As you can see, even an amateur chef like myself can find this step challenging.  I went 50% and broke two yolks.  Put back in the oven for 4-5 minutes or until the whites set. Top with shredded parmesan and pepper.  I think this would be awesome with sriracha but haven’t tried it.
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If you try this, please let me know what crust you go with.  I suspect a pizza stone might be a game changer.
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Breastfeeding and Exercise: What You Need to Know

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Is it safe to exercise while breastfeeding? 

Because I have a three month old whom I'm currently breastfeeding and because I am an instructor for stroller fitness classes, I frequently get questions about the impact exercising has on breastfeeding. Unfortunately, with my daughter my milk production does seem to decrease as the months go by, so I'm making sure I'm doing all that I can to keep my milk production. But it is also extremely important for a new mom's mind & body to fit some sort of exercise into their daily routine. 

Us breastfeeding mommas have plenty to worry about: our newborn's sleep patterns, potential food sensitivities, what & when you are eating, timelines for feeding, among many other things but exercising while breastfeeding does not have to be a concern.

According to kellymom.com, a top parenting and breastfeeding resource, moderate exercise has a host of benefits for breastfeeding moms. It improves their cardiovascular fitness, improves blood lipids and insulin profiles, and can help alleviate postpartum depression symptoms. It’s a misconception that exercising while breastfeeding can cause a reduction in a woman’s milk supply. Typical causes of a reduced milk supply have more to do with our hydration (insufficient hydration can cause immediate shifts in milk supply), stress levels (women under high stress produce hormones that can suppress milk supply), and caloric intake (too few calories can suppress milk supply). 

When you are reducing calories to shed pregnancy weight, it is best to do so in small doses while paying close attention to your hydration levels. If your body is not taking in enough calories to sustain your minimum caloric requirement, it will stop producing the milk your baby needs. A general guideline of calories needed to produce breastmilk is 20 calories per ounce you are producing a day. So, if you are feeding your baby 25-30 ounces of milk a day, you will need to consume between 400-600 extra calories on top of your daily minimums (which vary according to your body weight and other metabolic factors). 

A good rule of thumb for breastfeeding moms is to consume at least 2000 calories per day, especially when engaging in an exercise program. That doesn’t give you license to go out and eat donuts and chips. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein, and healthy fats are essential for your milk production.

When incorporated into a lifestyle that includes increased calories (more food!), proper hydration, and stress reduction techniques, exercise can do you and your new baby a lot of good. Here are three tips for moms returning to exercise with a new baby while breastfeeding:

    • Buy the right bras. You want a good nursing bra that also supports you for moderate movement. When a bra is too tight, it can lead to problems like clogged ducts and mastitis. Buy bras that fit snugly and support you, but are not too tight.
    • If and when possible, try to nurse or pump before you work out. This tip is mainly for your comfort and to help keep your baby happy while you are exercising. 
    • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. You want to drink water before and after exercise, especially on hot days. You will want your urine to look like light lemonade - that is a sign of good hydration. If you consume caffeine, then make sure to add more water to your day to replace any fluid loss. Coffee has a host of benefits, but is also a diuretic and can cause dehydration if it is not consumed with extra water. 

 

Don’t let the myths surrounding exercise and breastfeeding scare you. You are best served by incorporating moderate exercise on most days of the week. It is not only great for you, but it is good for your baby as well! 

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Mom of the Month: Sarah

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Two and a half years ago, Sarah Carter took a leap of faith, and it turned out to be the best decision she ever made. Back then, a mother of one and a full-time speech pathologist, Sarah was feeling the strains of balancing a full-time career and full-time motherhood, so she decided to make a change and become her own boss. 

Fast forward to the present day, and Sarah is now the mother of two lively boys, soon to be five year old Carson and soon to be one year old Barrett. (Fun fact: her sons share a birthday!) She is also a successful consultant with Rodan and Fields, which allows her the flexibility to work from home and enjoy these precious years with her family. Sarah really loves being a mother, but she shared, “I need something aside from just being a Mom.” Full time work, however, didn’t seem like the best option for her family. Despite her husband Daren’s concerns and despite her own hesitation about “drinking the direct sales kool aid”, Sarah committed to a career with Rodan and Fields and hasn’t looked back since. She finds that the company is incredibly supportive of mothers looking to add additional family income and is a true believer in the products. And P.S. her skin looks amazing! 

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Sarah also became involved with theCityMoms about two and a half years ago. She was looking for an inclusive moms group after encountering some rather exclusive ones in the area. With two young and lively boys, Sarah appreciates the fact that theCityMoms helps her stay active and involved with her children. She also participates in the Mompreneur group and enjoys networking with other entrepreneurs and professional women. 

Direct sales can be a tough business in which to succeed, but Sarah says consistency, follow-up, and discipline have been the keys to her success. Dedicating and truly working about 5-6 hours a week has allowed her to replace her full time salary. She cautions, however, that direct sales is not a get rich quick scheme but rather a five year plan that requires not only dedication but also thick skin. Sarah acknowledges that a stigma exists surrounding direct sales, but she says you just can’t worry about what other people think. Sarah is confident because she knows she is doing what’s right for her family. 

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When she has a rare moment of down time, Sarah enjoys pursuing her passion of photography. She also still does consulting work as a Speech Pathologist. The family enjoys staying active and outdoors and loves going to the zoo and The Children’s Museum. Sarah looks forward to staying involved with theCityMoms and would love to see a big carnival or black tie event in the future.

 

And now, for the important stuff:

What five items would you bring to a desert island?

  1. Sunscreen (clearly, she’s a skincare enthusiast!)

  2. Phone

  3. Kids and husband

  4. Dixie, our Border Collie; we also have a chihuahua, who might have to stay at home ;)

  5. Camera

What are you reading right now?

Twenty Days to the Top by Brian Sullivan

What is the weirdest thing in your purse?

Speech therapy materials, Epipen, a checkbook, a charging purse from R+F...I’m actually surprised because there is usually something a lot more random

What is your best recent mom memory?

My older son has some behavioral challenges, but recently he just had a breakthrough day. He doesn’t like to get his head wet, but he took a shower and went underwater for his swim lesson, and he even pooped on the potty, which was a huge fear of his. It just made me want to cry!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Diet coke with splenda and wine, definitely wine.

 

Sarah juggles her own business and raising two boys with grace and style, and she is super friendly to boot. If you haven’t met her yet, you should! And if you are interested in learning more about her business, feel free to connect with her on Facebook.

 

Stay tuned to see who Sarah nominated as the next Mom of the Month!

 

 

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To Tell Our Stories

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I was summoned for jury duty recently.

 

The third time in seventeen months.  I didn’t realize until I showed up that after serving, you are exempt from serving again for twenty-four months, and I could have contested the summons. But really, I was looking forward to sitting in a large room waiting patiently for my number to be called and reading a book.

 

There is no part of my life that involves sitting in one place for a long period of time reading a book. So, truthfully, I got really excited for jury duty.

 

Please don’t tell anyone I said that.

 

I don’t actually want to serve on a trial though, because that takes way too much time.

 

So I was released around noon and got to spend the afternoon walking around downtown, did a little shopping, went to renew my expired-for-three-months driver’s license, and did a little thrifting.

 

My favorite thrift shop is top secret and in a bad neighborhood. It’s full of gems and I walk away every.single.time with something I love. I will never share this place with anyone, it’s that good.

 

Don’t ask, I won’t tell you.

 

While I was there, I was working on adding to my obsessive book collection, and I came across a fabric-bound notebook that looked like a recipe book. When I started thumbing through it, I realized it was someone’s journal. Specifically, a seventy-eight-year-old woman’s journal.

 

It immediately made me feel guilty for reading it. The very first page was filled with her thoughts on why she needed to get her story down on paper and why she had to do it now, before she started to forget all the best parts.

 

This made my heart hurt.

 

Who was this woman? What were her stories? And how did this book end up at a thrift store?

 

I would like to tell you I bought her journal.I have been known to buy a stranger’s wedding album if I think it might be thrown away. I did not buy her journal. But I’ve thought about it every day since passing it up and I wish I had.

 

This beautiful old woman wanted someone to know her. She needed someone to remember her stories. She could feel her time near its end and she felt such a pull to make sure someone else remembered her and her life.

 

I know that feeling. It is sometimes overwhelming. The feeling to be known, to not be forgotten, to not feel like it was all for nothing.

 

We all need to share our stories; with our kids, with our spouses, with our friends. I want people to be invested in my life and I want to be invested in their lives. And that starts with sharing our stories.

 

I wish I would have bought that journal.



Originally published on Trusty Chucks in February 2013.

http://trustychucks.com/2013/02/to-tell-our-stories/

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Crock Pot Creamy Pierogi

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Crock Pot Creamy Pierogi

Recipe from DailyDIYLife.com via Pinterest

 

Okay, there are a few things you need to know about my cooking style:

  1. If it has more than five ingredients, I can’t be bothered.
  2. Low maintenance cooking is my default setting.
  3. I want my family to eat well, but on a budget.
  4. I love eating, but cooking is one of my least favorite “jobs” as a Mom.
  5. The Crock Pot is my favorite kitchen tool.

Creating our weekly meal plan is a task that I dread but find unavoidable as we are on a budget and busy as two full-time working parents. I don’t love cooking, and I can’t imagine that I ever will; however, I do want to provide my children with nutritious and tasty meals, and I can’t afford to eat out very often. So, every Sunday morning with my cup of coffee in hand I rack my brain and scroll through Pinterest to map out the meals for the week. Lately I have made it a priority to use my Crock Pot for at least three of the six meals I plan. For some reason, getting dinner ready in the morning and forgetting about it all day mitigates the dread that usually sets in at four o’clock when I realize that I still have to cook after working a full day.

This recipe appealed to me because it had a short list of ingredients and required virtually no other steps than “throw everything in the Crock Pot”. My perfect meal.

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Ingredients:

3 boxes of mini frozen Pierogis

4 cups chicken broth (I used stock because I already had some in the fridge)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz block of cream cheese

1 package of Kielbasa, sliced

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Directions:

Throw everything in the Crock Pot (I wasn’t kidding). Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours. Stir about halfway through cook time.

 

Creamy, comforting, carby, and delicious! This dish was a hit with the whole family, and there was plenty for leftovers for Mom’s weekday lunches. It took less than five minutes to prep, which combined with its deliciousness is plenty of reason for me to add this to our regular meal rotation.

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Oversized DIY Prints

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I love me a good large black and white photo.  Will you find them all over my house?  No.  But I love them and felt it was time…

A couple years ago, we had photos taken when we thought it would be our last session as a family of 3.  And I think it turned out being just that as we didn’t have any more taken of all 3 of us between then and now, but I digress… However, I LOVED the photos but I never know what to do with photos anymore…  Printing photos can also be super expensive! 

So… I figured I’d try the engineer sized prints you can get at your local FedEx or Kinkos.  I’d been wanting to try them forever and this was the perfect opportunity.  I had an empty hall that needed filling, and this was a great affordable, stylish way to bring that area of my home to life. 

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I actually used Office Depot as their online portal was the easiest to use in my opinion.  The photographer, also a friend, gave us the files for the photos, and I loaded them into the online portal world of Office Depot, and hit send.  About $20 and 4 hours later (around $5 for each print), I had 4 large black and white poster sized photos. 

Remember, I’m cheap, so next I headed to IKEA for their Ribba frames that run around $8 (or at least they did at the time. I’m so dreaming of the day when IKEA is in Fishers).

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I sat down at the kitchen table with my Xacto knife, frames, gold scissors, and photos and went to town framing these beauties. 

I’d also like to state that I’m NOT a perfectionist. Don’t judge me, I’m just not.  I don’t have time for that.  To me, imperfect is perfect.  And I wanted to add that in there because these are not perfect.  To the untrained eye (and those who don’t get too close) the quality may look quite great… but if you get up close, there are some blurs and pixelations in some places, but I didn’t mind that.  I actually think it gives it a little character.   Also, I’m sure you can tweak the settings more than I did when it comes to print quality. 

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But there you have it…

Adorable, Affordable, and Artsy.

As a finishing touch we added some old railroad signs above just to anchor the space a bit more. I love it and can’t wait to try another print elsewhere sometime soon!

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Summer Rolls: Recipe of the Week

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This is one of my favorite things to eat.  I love the crunch and freshness.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Rice Paper Wrappers

1 bunch of romaine lettuce, chopped

1 bunch of basil, chopped

1 bunch of mint, chopped

1 – 2 Carrots, julienne

1 Avocado, sliced

1 Red Bell Pepper, julienne

Rice Noodles

1 Cucumber, julienne

Protein: Tofu, Shrimp, etc.

 

Sauce:

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 Tablespoon of Hoisin Sauce

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of fish sauce

1Tablespoon of rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 Tablespoon of warm water

1 to 2 Tablespoon of chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce

crushed peanut as garnish

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Directions:

The biggest task of this recipe is the prep work of chopping, chopping, and more chopping.  If you are adding a protein, make sure it is cooked and ready to use.  Cook the rice noodles according to directions.  Boil the water and pour it into a big bowl where you can submerge the wrapper till it is soft.  Place the wrapper on a flat surface and start  with some romaine lettuce and herbs in the middle (make sure there is half an inch not touched on top and bottom) then add noodles, protein, and veggies.  I fold down the top and bottom, then roll like a burrito.  Repeat and have fun with your toppings!

The dipping sauce is easy to make: just throw all of the ingredients in the blender and blend.  This is a wonderful dish for the Summer and can be catered to a variety of dietary needs!

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Fashion's "Rule of Three"

The rule of three or power of three is a principle stating that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The rule of three is often applied in writing, public speaking, and marketing: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”…“Blood, sweat and tears”…”Real. Comfortable. Jeans.”

The rule of three also applies to aesthetics. Photographers use the “rule of thirds” in their compositions. In home décor, vignettes are often comprised of three items, as it is more pleasing to the eye. When it comes to fashion, incorporating three key pieces into your outfit can turn a boring, basic ensemble into a stylish, pulled-together look. 

To apply the rule of three to your wardrobe, start with a top and bottom, say a shirt and pants, and add a third piece, such as a cardigan, a jacket or vest, or scarf. Or, you can begin with one item, like a dress, and add a statement necklace and striking handbag. Admittedly, the rule of three is easier to apply in the fall and winter months, when layering is practical as well as fashionable. It can be a little harder to implement in the summer while trying to stay cool, but by adding lightweight jackets, vests, scarves and statement jewelry to your summer wardrobe, you can be both stylish and comfortable. 

For example, here I took a basic summer outfit comprised of a T-shirt and denim shorts, and added a gauzy kimono. Still breezy and cool but a little more stylish than the tee and shorts alone. 

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A lightweight cardigan, jacket or vest also makes a great third piece. I wear a LOT of jackets and vests, and I find they are often the key to making an outfit look complete.

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A lightweight scarf, statement necklace, or killer handbag can also be an essential component of a stylish summer outfit. When it’s super hot, even a cute hat can be all you need to up your style factor a notch.

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Next time you are getting dressed, give the rule of three a try. You may be surprised by how much more put together you look and feel. 

 

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