Planning Your Big Day: Wedding Registries

wedding registry kitchen items There are a lot of things to consider when planning your wedding and let’s face it, who can ignore the fact that there are presents involved?

Women have a tendency to over think pretty much everything regarding their wedding day; the term “bridezilla” didn’t come out of the sky, you know, and setting up your wedding registry is no different. There are some simple things you can do, however, to make the process of setting up your wedding registry.

First of all, start with the room you get the most excited about when you think about getting shiny, new things for it. If it’s your bedroom, go to the bedroom and take a look around. Take note of what you already have (and like) and think about what you’ve been wanting to add to the room that you haven’t already. If you have some items, like myself, that maybe your parents or your soon-to-be spouse’s parent’s handed down to you, would you like to update them? If so, in what colors or styles? Make a list of items you need as well as what you would like–It’s okay to be a little frivolous; in fact, it’s expected.

After you’ve finished with the room that you get the most excited about, move through the house in the order of what rooms give you that warm and fuzzy feeling and rooms that you would love some new gadgets for. However, it is also expected that you will forget some items that you’ll be kicking yourself later for not adding to your registry, so to help out with setting up your wedding registry, I Do Sugar, part of the Sugar blog network, has made a very convenient wedding registry [PDF] containing items that one can most often easily forget about to make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

You can download the file here; I can’t even imagine the number of sanities this file is going to save when it comes to wedding registry planning!

Mary-Kate Olsen, The Hippie

Mary-Kate Olsen Oh Mary-Kate Olsen, you wild and crazy woman always looking to separate yourself from your cute, cuddly kid super-celebrity persona. But I must ask, just what exactly were you thinking when you saw this dress and thought “Yeah, I think I’ll wear that!”?

Mary-Kate doesn’t look flattering in the least in this dress; in fact, she looks quite large and the headband is just dreadful.

What do you think, leave it in the comments!

Natural Aromatherapy for Your Bathroom

aromatherapy As a person who has easily spent way too much money on aromatherapy home and bathroom products including skin care, bath and shower products, candles and incense, I recently found a terrific natural approach to aromatherapy guaranteed to lift your spirits and your immune system.

Head over to your local flower shop or crafts store and pick up a small bundle of eucalyptus, mint, or lavender and some natural garden twine. Hang the bundles off of your shower curtain rod using the twine, close to the shower head but out of the way enough so it won’t get too wet when you turn the shower on.

If you have a cold or would like to boost your immune system, eucalyptus is a natural decongestant. The steam from the shower will release the scent throughout your bathroom and it will also clear up your cold and prevent it from returning and others from attacking.

Mint is also used as a throat soother, if you’ve looked through your local store’s cold and flu section, you may have noticed some products that aid in the soothing of the throat or medicines that get rid of sore throats and most often, those products contain mint. What not a lot of people know is that mint can also aid indigestion, helping stomach aches and also chest pains.

Lavender is my favorite plant for aromatherapy. Lavender as an essential oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and it is also used to naturally soothe headaches if applied to the temples; I used to get horrible stress headaches and ended up buying myself a natural body salve with lavender essential oils that worked wonderfully. Breathing lavender in has a calming effect and it is used to soothe stress, aches and pains and is best for you when exposed to it right before bed, as it produces a deeper sleep rid of stress that is most often carried with you into sleep making you wake even more tired than you were before you went to bed and still carrying emotional baggage and stress.

This little trick can even be used just to put a nice, natural fragrance in your bathroom that will last for a few weeks.

The ‘Healthy’ Glow

tanning bed It’s spring, which means summer is just around the corner and women are getting ready to get their bikini bodies. But what if women, with their exercise schedule and healthy diets, are backtracking and while they think they are being healthy in their efforts to maintain that perfect beach body, are really just harming their health more?

If you go to a gym, you most likely utilize most of the facilities and activities that they have to offer. Work out equipment, maybe some private classes with a personal trainer or being part of a weekly class, if they have a nutritionist on staff, you most likely consulted with them about maintaining some healthy eating habits or have gotten a quick snack from them. Just before taking your shower, getting back into your street clothes and going home, how many women hop into the tanning bed for that healthy summer glow; because lets face it, who wants to be a color just a few pigments darker than chalk? But what you don’t know is that tanning beds, a $5 billion a year industry, are harming you more than you may think.

Personally, I used to frequent tanning salons because I suffered from chronic insomnia and I found that while accompanying a friend of mine on her tanning trip and deciding to try it out for myself, that a tanning bed was the only place where I could fall asleep. While I didn’t strive for the perfect tan, I do know women who became absolutely obsessed with tanning, making appointments at two or three different tanning facilities just so no one told them that they were tanning too much because they would go to a variety of different places. It looked as if they were going once a week, but they were really visiting these facilities three times a week or more!

Tanning, while incredibly bad for your skin to begin with, as the ultraviolet radiation can cause wrinkles, dark spots and premature aging; indoor tanning can also put you at a 55% higher risk for Melanoma.

Dermatologist Louis Barich, MD, has reported that “Essentially, 20 minutes in a tanning bed can do as much damage as five hours of natural sunlight.”

So before hopping into that tanning bed for that healthy glow, go outside and get some fresh air instead–but be sure to put the sunblock on! While being pasty white may not seem very attractive to you, think about how you would feel about wrinkles, dark spots and ultimately, skin cancer.

Giving Your Pet Medication Just Got Easier

Pill Pockets for cats Giving medication to your pet is sometimes worse than getting your child to swallow that disgusting spoonful of cough medicine. They refuse to take the medication willingly and in most cases, pet owners must resort to holding their pet down and slipping a capsule into their mouths and hope they don’t just take it into another room and spit it out.

I got my cat spayed about a year ago and while still at the vet office the next morning, she had ripped all of her stitches out and within a few days of bringing her home, she had an infection from the stitches and the vet having to restitch her. In addition to the normal medication I had to give her, I also had to give her an antibiotic for the infection. Now, I have an unnatural love for my cat, I treat her as well as people treat their children and seeing her in any kind of pain or discomfort at all had me welling up with tears, so giving her the two medications twice a day was agony for me–and she didn’t like it much, either.

I recently found a great item that makes giving pets medication easier than ever–Pill Pockets. Staying true to hiding capsules in food, Pill Pockets, made by Greenies, are treats for pets that you can easily put a pill in and feed to your pet. They are made for cats as well as for dogs and would most definitely be an asset for any person having trouble with giving their pets medication.

Book Review: Chix Can Fix by Norma Vally

Home improvement books really aren’t my type of books, since I’ve always lived in apartments and can’t really take it upon myself to paint and redecorate without the approval of a landlord, whom most often are scared to death when you say “Oh yes, I’m thinking about black carpeting and green walls, what do you think?” However, Norma Vally’s Chix Can Fix tempted me because the book is not only geared towards home improvement, but also to fixing household appliances without the hassle of having to call in a professional and be robbed blind. I was also curious as to how a woman would speak to other women about home repairs and improvements, especially considering that traditionally, this book would have been geared solely towards men, had the author been a man.

I do not watch television; in fact, for three years I didn’t even have basic cable channels so my television was only used when I was watching a movie, so I had no background on who Normy Vally was or what this so-called “Tool Belt Diva” thing was all about going into this book. I was especially interested in this book to see how Vally represents women who do their own home improvement and repair work and because I had never made my own home repairs, nor knew who Norma Vally was, I went into this book completely clueless and came out just as clueless as before, but more offended than anything else.

Norma Vally speaks down to her readers, a true triumph since this book can be found in several clearance bins in many different home improvement and supply shops. She goes into explicit detail and over-simplifies already clear points as if she were a man imitating how one should speak to clueless women. She attempts humor quite frequently, but instead of coming off as humorous, her wording falls nothing short of being condescending and petty.

The self-proclaimed Tool Belt Diva had the perfect opportunity to publish a positive and helpful book for women, already knowing that women would be more inclined to purchase her book, but instead makes the same mistake as most other books of any nature do when attempting to appeal to a female audience–Speaking abut fashion and making every other sentence “cutesy” will not build a solid fan base; instead, this will provoke readers to look at the author of the book in a negative light, knowing that she does not take herself seriously, never mind being able to take the plight of her readers seriously.

If you are still inclined to purchase this book, you will find step-by-step instructions on a variety of different home improvement and repairs, such as plumbing, electricity, walls, floors, doors and windows. You will also find an estimated budget for every project in the book if you are saving up or would like an estimate for a particular home repair or improvement.

Chix Can Fix did not impress me, nor did I see what I had expected; I expected a woman-friendly book that went above the stereotypical “man job” demeanor; what I got was the reinforcement that because you’re a woman, you have no right to do these types of home improvement jobs, but if you insist on doing them anyway, Norma Vally would like to think she can help–while insulting your intelligence the entire time.


Tackling Comment Spam for Good

Blogs are everywhere today; just about everyone has one and because so many people of various backgrounds, cultures and personal interests are involved with the caring and keeping of personal or entertainment websites, they have easily become the leading form of web media when it comes to attracting spam.

Web publishers need to constantly be on top of their comments, checking for spam and getting rid of it promptly before viewers see them and suddenly think we condone the buying and selling of illegal pharmaceuticals or we are unnaturally concerned about their personal and intimate relationships. Spam comments are equally bad for everyone involved in a particular website. They are irritating for the webmaster, having to check sometimes daily or even multiple times a day for comments that are inappropriate for the website and are offensive to readers and it also shows readers that a website may not be as professional as it would like to be seen. If a website fails to look the part of a multi-faceted, entertaining and above all, polished and mastered website, it does not matter how well your website does stat-wise, your viewers will not be interested and potential-advertisers will not take you seriously.

Dealing with spam comments can quickly become a second job for a webmaster, especially since the bigger a website gets, the more spam it attracts. The secret is to finding an efficient and user-friendly spam comment program to help eliminate the worry of unprofessional and inappropriate spam. If you are running WordPress, you are most likely still running the spam monitoring system Akismet that came with your original WordPress install; however, there are other programs out there, for WordPress in particular, that I have found to work much better than Akismet.

Defensio anti-spam Defensio is a comment spam monitor and eliminator whose entire mission is based off of outsmarting evil spam, which it does miraculously. In my opinion, you cannot get any better than Defensio for taking the edge off when you’re thinking about how your website is doing and if any spam is leaking through.

With its innovative technology, Defensio actually adapts to the content you post and is proven not to work in the exact same manner for two different bloggers; instead, it adapts to the webmaster’s specific way of managing their comments and follow suite. Every comment that is posted on your website is given a level of “spamminess” and is determined whether or not the level it is given is low enough to be posted. On a personal level, I have seen comments with a spamminess level as low as 20% be held for moderation, just to make sure that it wasn’t someone trying to plug their site or a company looking for some shameless exposure.

With 99.77% accuracy, Defensio definitely gives you the security you need to be a successful, professional and efficient webmaster with absolutely no worry about back doors being left open for spam comments to get away with accessing your content. It tackles comment spam for several different user interfaces such as WordPress, PixelPost, Mephisto, Text Pattern, Movable Type and Drupal. It is also supported by several different web developer platforms such as Ruby on Rails, Java, Perl, PHP (4 and 5) and Python; all of which can be downloaded here.

Earth Hour 2008

Earth Hour This Saturday is a big day for helping the Earth out a little bit in your every day life. March 29, 2008 is Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund and is a day where for one hour (8PM to 9PM–your local time) you will join other people across the world in turning your lights off to raise awareness about global warming.

Last year, Earth Hour was an event in Sydney, Australia and had over 2 million participants and had over 2,000 businesses power down their light sources. This year, Earth Hour is making this a global event–No matter where you are located, turn your lights off from 8PM-9PM and help to fight climate change.

“Join people all around the world in showing that you care about our planet and want to play a part in helping to fight climate change. Don’t forget to sign up and let us know you want to join Earth Hour.

But what will you do for a whole hour without your lights? Crunchy Domestic Goddess has some ideas, including talking with your kids about why all of the lights are turned out and educating them about the Earth and global warming.

What will you be doing with no lights during Earth Hour?

Here are some other ways that you can help the Earth after March 29th:

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.
  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Turn off appliances when not in use.
  • Unplug your electronics when they are not in use.
  • Use less hot water.
  • Switch to green power.

What are you doing in your every day life to help fight global warming?

Get Involved with StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon StumbleUpon is by no means a new tool, however, I have found that a lot of people who should be all over this, webmasters in particular, have no idea what it can do for them.

StumbleUpon is an extremely unobtrusive toolbar that lets you rate websites as well as find new websites that would be of interest to you. There are several very targeted categories that you may look under to find sites and best of all, it helps you promote the sites that you love so that others will be able to enjoy them as well. Now, when you think about it, if StumbleUpon lets you promote websites, doesn’t that mean that you can also promote your own website with it? Why yes it does.

When you join StumbleUpon, you are given a page of your own where every website you rank will show up on, so all of the people who view your StumbleUpon profile can browse through the sites that you have promoted. This has been a very influential tool for me thus far, running two websites of my own as well as lending my expertise to other websites in order to get them a bit bigger than they already are. A great tip when using StumbleUpon is that when you submit your main page, don’t just stop there. People may be interested in your site, but if your website has a splash page where you have to click enter in order to view it, or you believe people just must see one page on your website, you can submit them individually. What’s great about this for bloggers, specifically, is that while you can promote your website, you can also promote every post you write just by clicking one button in your StumbleUpon toolbar.

When using StumbleUpon, we must adopt the online realm of thinking when it comes to viewers. While submitting your site, all of your pages and all of your blog posts to StumbleUpon, that isn’t going to do much if you have no friends and you’re the only one who visits your page. While countless people use this tool on a daily basis, there are also countless websites being submitted to the same categories you are submitting to, so the likelihood of people seeing all of the great content on your website through this tool, is pretty slim. I also have the answer to that problem!

StumbleUpon groups, I can say from experience, are absolutely amazing. A StumbleUpon group is a group of people who send emails to other members asking them to Stumble a page they have submitted or would like to promote something to a wider audience. All that is needed from you is to go through the submissions and click the thumbs up button on your toolbar saying that you like the post and when you submit posts or websites of your own to them, they will do the same. There are many groups out there with a large number of participants, so gaining attention to your website has now become quite easier.

After installing the StumbleUpon toolbar, I also recommend that you join the StumbleUpon group, StumbleMe. Become involved with other bloggers and help them gain an audience while spreading the word about your site as well; it’s a win-win.

The StumbleUpon toolbar comes for Internet Explorer as well as for Firefox and can be downloaded here and don’t forget, once you’ve downloaded the toolbar, join StumbleMe and see your hits increase dramatically!

Marc Jacobs Knocks Off Department Store Nightgown?

Marc Jacobs mini dress I will never, for the life of me, even begin to wrap my mind around how Marc Jacobs became such a big name in fashion. Most of what I see from him, or most big names in fashion for that matter, just blow my mind–And not in that “Wow, that’s absolutely stunning!” way.

This dress is a new piece from Marc Jacobs, it is the Number 9 mini dress. It is said to be a take on the sports-couture look and consumers are told to wear it with heels for the “most balanced” look. Personally, I would say that for the most balanced look, this should be worn with a pair of pink fuzzy bunny slippers, since the dress looks more like what I’ve seen in department stores being sold as a nightgown. In fact, it looks as if this piece of clothing was taken from Target or Walmart, had one of its sleeves cut down the middle and someone threw a clutch purse and a pair of heels on the mannequin and said “There! That should give the customers a few laughs today.” The shoes, however, are great and I want them.

This dress was seen on the runway and can be yours for a mere $1,565.00.

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