Friday, December 31, 2010

What Are Your Resolutions for 2011?

Happy new year to the Ungirdled nation! I so appreciate you coming to visit throughout 2011! Your friendship has meant a lot. As we enter a new year, I've made a few resolutions and am wondering what yours are. Please share them here. It's my monthly guest column for the good folks at Health Bistro and

Best wishes for a new year filled with lots of love, laughter, great health, peace, and - let's be hones - a little prosperity would be nice, too! Stay safe tonight and don't forget your black-eyed peas -, Fergie, and those other two.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Teenagers and The Family Christmas Card

Every year, I ask my family to pose for what I think is a fun family Christmas card. I have shared a few here with you before. When my boys were little, they really got into it. As evidenced here:

At age two, my little angels were only too happy to pose and wish everyone "peace, love and joy." At age three, they happily posed with their dad as the "three wiseguys, offering gifts of gold, Frankenstein and Merv:"

As the years went on, I got less and less cooperation. This year they refused to pose and said they didn't care what I did for the family Christmas card. Hence this year's offering:

I simply cut heads from their school pictures and applied to this original photo found at the hilarious website (which is also a fabulous gift book). I have no idea what the family who posed for this was thinking. ("It's Christmas! Grin and BARE it?") I do know it's totally put me off of "figgy pudding!" If I were built like that woman, I would certainly want to show it off, but I am not sure posing for a family Christmas card photo while wearing a coconut bra and fig leaf is the way to do it. But that's just me. After receiving this, one neighborhood mom thanked me, saying it has persuaded her once-reluctant boys to happily pose for family Christmas cards from now on.

Anyhoo...wanted to wish everyone in the Ungirdled nation a very happy holiday season and a new year filled with lots of peace, love, laughter, great health and prosperity! Thanks for visiting throughout the year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Win An iPad at Lifescript!

The good folks at and Healthbistro are offering the chance to WIN AN iPad!!! But HURRY! It ends at noon on Dec. 17. Click here for details!! Good luck and happy holidays!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Personalized Dog & Cat Prints - Great Gift! Lots of Breeds Available!

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently began selling handcrafted jewelry and home decor products at my own shop at If you're unfamiliar with etsy, it's a really FABO international, online craft and vintage site featuring handcrafted goods from shopkeepers all over the world! I had long been an etsy customer. I love the idea of buying unique, handcrafted gifts, jewelry, handbags and home goods from individuals who lovingly make them in their homes and studios rather than things that are mass-produced in Chinese sweat shops. Etsy is a wonderful place to get gifts this and any time of the year. I have recently began selling personalized dog and cat prints (see dog breed selection below as well as the cat pose). You pick which number pose you'd like then visit my shop here and let me know the name of the pet when ordering. I will enlarge and set the dog (or cat) silhouette you select against antique script that's slightly "stained" around the edges for a vintage look and print it on a premium, 65 lb cover stock. (See cat and dachshund examples immediately below.) In a few days after placing your order, you'll receive a customized 8" x 10" print ready to frame in either an 8"x 10" frame or an 11" x 14" frame with a mat. I like to use the 40% off coupons from the local craft stores and pick up gorgeous frames at really great prices to put these in and present as special and affordable gifts. A terrific idea for any pet lover on your guest list! Thanks for taking a look! Happy holidays!

Sample dog print shown in an 11" x 14" frame with mat:

Sample cat print shown in an 8" x 10" frame (currently, this is the only cat pose available):

Dog Breeds Available - Use Number of Pose Desired When Ordering Here:
(you may need to use the "zoom in" feature to get a better look - images may become a little blurry when you do this, but rest assured the image on your finished print will be crisp!)

Afghan 14

Airedale 16, 117

Australian Cattle Dog 57

Basenji 40

Basset Hound 95, 114

Beagle 121

Bedlington Terrier 111

Bichon 94

Bloodhound 87, 138

Borzoi 113

Boston Terrier 6, 29, 116

Bouvier des Flandres 54

Boxer 106

Brittany Spaniel 96

Bull Terrier 5, 118

Bulldog 55, 62, 84, 119

Bulldog Puppy 13

Bulldog, American 12, 38

Bulldog, English 25, 50

Cairn Terrier 79, 80, 97, 134

Cavalier King Charles 110

Central Asian Sheep Dog 39

Chihuahua 7, 142

Chinese Crested 8, 92, 102

Chow 48, 59, 68

Cocker Spaniel 63, 76, 135

Collie 141

Corgi 112, 130

Dachshund 4, 27, 120, 136

Dachshund, long hair 60, 67

Dalmatian 20

Dandie Dinmont 101

Doberman 26, 37, 41, 53, 58, 100

Fox Terrier 139

German Shepherd 1, 17, 51, 52, 74

Golden Retriever 22, 137

Great Dane 23

Great Dane, German 18, 47

Great Pyrenees 85

Greyhound 10, 104

Hound 121

Husky 19, 143

Irish Setter 96

Israel Canaan 28

Keeshound 59

Lab 2, 15, 45, 98

Lab Puppy, 46

Malamute 143

Maltese 125

Mastiff 38

Papillion 61

Pekingese 115

Pharoh Hound 24

Pit Bull 11, 26, 65, 86

Pointer 107, 132

Pointer, German 43

Pomeranian 48

Poodle 44, 93

Portuguese Water Dog 99, 108

Pug 144, 145

Puppy 49

Retriever 15, 20, 22

Rottweiler 56

Schnauzer, 30, 82, 122

Scottie 70

Setter 69, 83, 103

Shih tzu 105

Skipper Kee 28

Spitz 124

Springer Spaniel 96

St. Bernard 3

Terrier 90, 91

Westie 79, 80, 97, 134

Whippet 10, 104, 109

Yorkie 125

Samples of some of the patterns available:

Pink Damask:
Beach Stripes:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween - Not Just for Kids & Skanks! Costume Ideas For Busy Moms!

If you’re a busy mom of teens like me, your days are jam-packed with bribing teachers, posting bail, and trying to figure out why Tupperware containers emptied of leftovers are placed back in the fridge while half-full milk and juice cartons are left on the counter over night. You’ve got little time to come up with a costume for your kids, much less yourself. But Halloween shouldn’t be just for kids. We adults should make the time to enjoy it, too. Today, I share some fast, easy costume ideas for us busy moms where I am guest blogging at - a terrific site for Ungirdled women! Click here to check it out, and please leave a comment at the end with your ideas! Thanks and happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teenage Enigmas

If you’ve ever encountered a teenager, either in the wild or its natural habitat, you know the species are walking-sassing contradictions. I have the torment pleasure of observing two in the habitat I share with them. Some observations from the field:

• The same subjects which spend hours grooming their hair to get it just right will play it fast and loose with the rest of their bodies while operating a motor vehicle. Need proof? Watch the chaos in the student section of a high school parking lot ten minutes before the first bell rings. Your hair will turn gray - if you live to tell about it.

• The cross country athlete who will regularly run 5 or more miles at practice will find it impossible to make the 17 foot trek from table to dishwasher.

• The member of Model UN, a group which focuses of solving the world’s most pressing problems, can’t figure out how to shut the refrigerator door.

• The same specimen which will not let you forget that you got the name of one of his six teachers wrong FOUR YEARS AGO can’t remember to pack the next day’s homework in his backpack.

• The subject which rarely misses a shot on the basketball court can’t seem to ever make an item of dirty laundry land in the hamper or used tissue in the trash can.

• The typical specimen can text 272 words a minute to a friend, the same amount of time it takes them to type five for their English essay.

• While in its natural habitat, subject behaves as though separated from John McEnroe at birth. Natural enemies teachers report behavior of angel while outside the habitat.

• The student who dreads oral presentations doesn’t ever seem to mind lecturing you at home. Not ever. Favorites on the in-home lecture series include: “You don’t know how to act in public,” “My life is WAY harder than yours!” and “There’s nothing to eat in this house.”

• You constantly ask yourself how the most clueless, most embarrassing couple in the entire universe could have produced people who know absolutely everything except how the two of you can be so lame.

I know there are some I missed, because the study of these creatures can be exhausting and the liquor intake required to live with the can make you forgetful. What contradictions have you observed in your study of teen behavior?

Card above is ©Tracy Kunzler and sold at, see “Reel Life Horrors” cards.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do You Look Like You Feel?

Do you look like you feel?

I go around feeling like this:

Of course I don’t think I look like that! I know I don’t. Not anywhere close. Not in the same ballpark, neighborhood of even hemisphere of it, it’s just that If I had to visualize how I feel, this is how I visualize me. Then, I will unfortunately, see a photo of myself someone’s recently taken, and immediately I feel like I look like this:

The stomach! The wattle! The dried-out hair…it’s hard to take it all in. I exercise, I only eat 27% of what I WANT to eat in a day; I take tons of vitamins; I try to get enough sleep, but there it is. I am old and dumpy. Far from what I looked like in high school, and of course, intellectually, I know I don't look like I looked in high school, but I still feel the same spirit-wise.

Then, time goes by and I forget about the photo (can you spell “post traumatic stress disorder?) and happily go about life. Recently, I was happily going about life while some contractors were over to tend to the effects left by having a new door installed (of course, installing the door uncovered tons of rotten wood around the door frame which lot$ had to be done to correct. (Can you spell home ownership: the pantload that keeps on giving?) Anyhoo… I’m making out the check for the head contractor dude, when he asks, “You know who you look like?” While I know the answer will NOT be Cameron Diaz or anyone close to it, you naturally think, when someone makes a point of saying, “You know who you look like?” it’s going to be really flattering. That they're going to name someone a little younger, someone you could only hope to look like if they are saying it to your face and especially IF YOU ARE WRITING OUT A CHECK TO THEM AT THAT PRECISE MOMENT. I asked, with trepidation, “Who’s that?” Wait for it… Wait for it….

“Bonnie Hunt!”

“Really?” I asked, trying to sound pleased and not totally deflated.

“Yes! You look just like her! Do you know who she is?”

“Yes,” I reply trying to continue writing vs. visually tasering contractor dude. “I love her.” Which I do. I really, really do. It’s just that I wanted him to say someone younger than me, not someone a year older. You never want to hear you look like someone older or even close to your age. (Naturally, I immediately looked up Bonnie’s age right after the contractor left to see how old I was looking to the unbiased, outspoken local contractor population.)

While looking up Bonnie’s age, I found lots of photos of her. Looking at them, I realized I would be happy and lucky to look like Bonnie Hunt or remind anyone of her. She is a wonderfully warm, happy, funny, kind and beautiful woman – at least that’s what I think of when I think of her, and if that’s at all how I present myself to the world, then I am very lucky indeed. Stomach, wattle and all. (I'm talking about my wattle and stomach - not Bonnie's - she doesn't seem to have those things, and if she does, mine certainly trump hers!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Oprah Makes Me Feel Bad, But This Time I Think It’s Worth It

When it comes to guilt trips, I have logged more mileage points with Oprah than I have with US Air, American Airlines and my mother COMBINED. Oprah makes me feel bad for so many reasons. Thanks to her constant crusades, I feel I should be eating a "kinder" diet, reading better books, doing more for charity and saving better (that Suzy Orman can really give you a good scolding). I’ve realized I’ve been plucking my eyebrows all wrong. Oprah has even let me know I poop wrong. It should look like an “S” according to the big O and her experts. And, thanks to Oprah, I know that chances are I have been wearing THE WRONG BRA my entire breast-toting life. Now she is making me feel bad about something I suspect you should feel bad about too, and I’m glad.

In case you haven’t heard, Oprah’s latest crusade is to get as many people as possible to take a pledge to make our cars “no phone zones.” According to Oprah, Nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 are killed each year because drivers are talking, texting and e-mailing behind the wheel.

I am not a big cell phone user. My boys are constantly chiding me for how little I know about my cell phone. I think too many in our society are pathetic cell phone addicts. While shopping, I daydream of tasering fellow shoppers who insist on loudly blathering about the most inane minutiae on their cell phones - especially those lugging poor, neglected tots with them. I also think it is incredibly rude to have someone constantly scanning their phone, crackberry - or whatever they have - while you’re talking to them. I don’t do any of that, but I confess I have, on occasion, taken or made a call while driving. Studies now show it is just as dangerous as drinking and driving – something I would never consider doing. So, I have taken Oprah's "No Phone Zone" pledge and knew you, as a sister (or brother) of the Ungirdled Nation would want to consider doing it, too.

To see some very compelling arguments and videos for signing the pledge, go to and hit the “no phone zone” icon to the right. (Or click here after reading this post.) Once there, you can also access and sign the pledge to make your car a no phone zone and lessen the chance that you or someone you love will be killed or injured due to cell phone use while driving. I can pretty much guarantee after seeing just this or this, you’ll think it’s the right thing to do. There are three different pledge options from "I will not text while driving," to "I will not text or use my phone while I am driving. If I need to use my phone, I will pull over to the side of the road."

I know, I know. It’s easy for Oprah to preach no talking or texting while driving. I’m sure she has a driver taking her everywhere, just as she has a chef cooking her kinder diet, a personal accountant helping her save, and millions of dollars to help charity. I'm sorry for the less-than- light-hearted post this go around, but I know you agree 6,000 deaths a year due to using something we easily (and literally!) lived without until just recently is enough to make you want to say “amen” to this sermon.

Images from "No Phone Zone" page

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Sales Alternatives For The Ungirdled Nation

It’s that time of year again. Just when we realize our new year’s resolutions to lose weight aren’t going to pan out, cherub-faced do-gooders known as Girl Scouts begin ringing our door bells to hawk their irresistible cookies. Just what my fudge-filled thighs need, a coating of Thin Mints. (The name is even enticing – THIN mint, when it’s anything but.) Who can resist them or the delectable Dos-si-dos and Tagalongs? The answer is no one. That is why, since this highly-anticipated annual event began in 1917, the obesity rate has risen like 713% (give or take a few hundred percent). The number one seller, the Thin Mint, has 160 calories per serving of four cookies. Who can and does eat just four at a time?! With over 200 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies sold each year, and 25% of them being thin mints, and a pound of fat equating 3,500 calories, basic math tells us that thin mints alone are responsible for over 17 bazillion pounds gained by Americans each year.

Girl Scouts are in no way to blame for the obesity epidemic. I sold Girl Scout cookies as a girl, and my mother even served as Girl Scout district distribution manager one year. We had cases and cases all over our home and garage. I am a big (thanks to the cookies, make that HUGE) fan of scouting. While they are not the problem, I do look to Girl Scouts, as among the brightest and best our country, to be leaders in the solution.

Scouting is an incredibly valuable program that needs and merits our support. Did you know that in 2005, 71.5 percent of women in the U.S. Senate and 67.1 percent of the women in the House of Representatives were former Girl Scouts? In 1942, when there were sugar, flour and butter shortages during World War II, Girl Scouts took to selling calendars in lieu of cookies. In that spirit, I have come up with a suggested list of things Girl Scouts can sell instead of cookies that today’s consumer (and Ungirdled Woman) could really use and appreciate:

• Spanx

• Estrogen patches

• Designer shoes

• Thigh masters

• Botox injections

• Liquor

Here’s what I think is the best idea of all: get the Slim Fast people to come up with a new, thin mint flavor exclusively for Girl Scouts. A S’mores flavor wouldn’t be bad either. I think they would be huge sellers - almost as big as my thighs.

If, like me, you know you’re going to succumb to the sweet-faced pushers of thin mint ecstasy, you can visit the official Girl Scout Cookie website here to review all the varieties and acquaint yourself with the latest additions. I know I’ll be getting to know them all too well. One thing I especially like about Girl Scout cookie sales is, once you’ve been approached by the 27th neighbor girl selling them, the option to have some of the cookies you purchase go to military troops serving overseas. There’s a cookie purchase good for your heart and waistline!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter Blahs? Try These Mood Boosters

If you’re like me, you may have noticed a lot of people in a bit of a funk and may have even found yourself feeling a little funky. Whether it’s the economy or just a case of winter blahs, many of us could use a way to lift our spirits. I recently saw a spot on TV highlighting ways to boost your mood based on a New York magazine feature titled "50 Steps To Simple Happiness." These were things touted as simple, affordable ways to make for a happier, healthier you. I'm listing a few I thought made sense, some things I would personally like to try (but will probably never happen), as well as a few mood-boosters that have never let me down.

Ways To Lift Mood From New York Magazine *

Make Your Bed. The theory here is if you have your environment controlled, you’ll feel more at peace. If you do this first thing, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment from the get-go. I do think there's a little something to this.

Paint your walls yellow. The idea being that yellow is the color of sunlight and sunlight is a natural mood booster. I personally do not like yellow anything (except for beer and cheese which which are wonderful mood lifters) but I do have a number of walls painted yellow green or orange throughout my house and they make me very happy. I’ve had people actually say the rooms with those colors make them happy.

Use green apple or cucumber scented products. The article recommends looking for candles, lotions or shampoos that have these scents, as they’ve been proven to lift mood. I think you could even actually eat the real thing and probably get the same effect!

Eat an ounce of dark chocolate. The magazine says dark chocolate will boost your mood and give you much-needed antioxidants that are good for your health. I say more is more, so have more than an ounce and get really happy!

Things I Would Like To Try To Boost My Mood But Will Probably NEVER Happen

Controlling the remote when my husband and I are watching television.

Owning my own taser – the REAL kind like the police have. I promise not to use it more than once...OK three... times a week!

Having the people in my house aim.

Having the people in my house who don’t aim, clean up after they don’t aim. (a girl can dream!)

Saying to a salesgirl while in the fitting room, “Could you please fetch me these jeans in a size six or even a four? This pair of eights is just falling off of me!”

Guaranteed Mood Boosters (for me, anyway!)

Spend time with your dog. Whether it’s two minutes scratching his belly or a quick game of dodging and running around the yard, I’ll bet he'll provide you with lots of unconditional love and smiles.

Our family mood lifter, Bogie

Put your favorite music on when no one else is home (LOUD) and turn that mother out as you shake your money maker all over the dance flo'.

Take a leisurely stroll through the green house of a nearby nursery with classical music or smooth jazz playing on your iPod. The sights, smells and sounds will restore you.

Play a game with family and friends. We like Apples-to-Apples, Catch Phrase and have just discovered a new one called “What’s Yours Like?” Seems I nearly loose bladder control whenever we play one of these (or I sneeze).

Get together with favorite girlfriends and laugh. One of my favorite things to do with a group of favorite girls is paint, craft or knit as we sip adult beverages and nibble treats. If you laugh enough, you'll feel much better. If you drink enough, you will turn out some masterpieces! (At least you'll think so at the time!)

Watch videos of babies laughing on YouTube. Here are two good ones to get you started:

I hope these tips will help lift your mood the next time you feel a little funky. I'd love to hear your tips! Feel free to add your own special ways of boosting your spirits by hitting "comments" below.

* Many of the tips in the New York Magazine article involved going to specific places in New York. You can find the entire article here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guest Blogger Sheila Kilpatrick Talks About The “P” Word

Today, guest blogger Sheila Kilpatrick talks about the “P” word: patience. As Ungirdled (and often estrogen-deprived!) women, patience is something we often find in short supply. Sheila knows of what she speaks. She has paired patience with perseverance to triumph over cancer and become an award-winning children’s book author. In addition to being a terrific writer, Sheila is a wonderful friend, artist and animal lover who lives in Virginia Beach with her dogs CoJack and Houston. Her first children’s book, Anastasia’s Rain has just received a silver award from "The Mom's Choice Awards." For more information on this great book, see the information following this article. Thanks for guest blogging, Sheila! As a mom living with two teenagers, I found this post to be especially helpful!

The “P” word. What word am I defining? Calmly tolerating provocation or delay...bearing misfortune or pain without complaint. Did you get it? If not, I have one more hint from a nine year old. “I think it is waiting for stuff even when you don’t want to.” Yes, the word is patience. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best!

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times on an average day you have the opportunity to practice patience? In a high-tech, internet-based, “I need it yesterday” world, patience no longer seems necessary, but in my humble opinion, it is more necessary than ever and really is a virtue.

Patience requires us to think beyond ourselves, as it usually involves others. In just one day, I found myself irritated in heavy traffic, in line at the grocery store, in line for a bike at the gym, sitting on hold for customer service and upset with the assumed incompetence of a business associate. By day’s end, my mood was lousy.

Rather than pouring myself a glass of wine and making the best out of the remainder of the day, I decided to analyze my mood. Why was I irritable? Could I be part of the problem? Of course, the things that irritated me irritate most people, but they were things either out of my control or involved others. My personal challenge for the next day was to exhibit patience in every scenario that called for it. What an amazing difference this one decision made in my day!

When traffic was heavy, I popped in a book on tape and actually sat in my driveway for an extra ten minutes listening to it once I got home. When a business associate was about to get on my last nerve, I took a deep breath, smiled and asked what I could do to help solve the problem.

Each time patience was required, I accepted the situation and either reworked my plan or got involved to move things along. It worked!! I was not irritable at the end of the day and it actually felt good knowing I had helped others who were stressed as well.

In a world of people divided by socio-economic, religious and political differences, there may be no better medicine for the soul than to put all this “stuff” aside, use a little patience and take the time to really see another person’s situation. Our own problems are automatically put into perspective and it becomes easier to lend a helping hand. One act of kindness can make a world of difference in another person’s life. It may not be what you did for them, but that you did it.

Have you seen the movie “The Blind Side”? I strongly urge everyone to take the time to experience this movie. It is a true story that shows the best and worst in all of us. In the end, however, with the support of her family, one woman’s big heart, patience and belief in another person changes all their lives. It is true testimony to the power of reaching out to others.

I recently published my first children’s picture book, “Anastasia Pickering, Anastasia’s Rain,” featuring Anastasia, Rufus the dog and Patience the fairy. This book is meant to be a teaching tool for values and life lessons. The lesson for Anastasia is .... patience of course! As I say in the book: “Patience is hard to learn, but important to use.” Teaching our children the importance of using patience is wise, but as we all know, using it ourselves and pointing out to them how much better things go when it is practiced is even wiser.

Experience will always be the best teacher! SO...please consider for 2010 using patience more in your daily routines, teach it to your children by example, use it with others even when it is very hard. Consider going one step further by stepping outside your comfort zone to lend a helping hand. I’m not sure how it will change the other person’s life, but I do know it will change yours.



Author, Sheila Kilpatrick wrote the Anastasia Pickering series for everyone who has faced a rainy day. She believes perplexing or difficult situations can present us with colorful answers if we listen to our inner (fairy) voices. Sheila, a breast cancer survivor has faced her own rain with the help of loyal friends and family. Her niece and nephew's magical points of view helped her see reflective healing colors in the quiet of the rain. She hopes Anastasia’s rain will open young minds to a different perspective as they face the showers and downpours of their own lives. Please visit: for more information or email Sheila at: