Five Fun End of Summer Party Themes

The sun is shining…the drinks are flowing…what better time to rally up the troops for some summertime fun? Palm tree cooler, available at!When it comes to summer socializing, you can host a party at your own home as a great way to reunite with friends and family, even as the end of summer draws near.

The party themes are virtually endless, but here are our top five end of summer party themes for your entertaining and hosting enjoyment! We’ve included tips for food, drinks, music, and decorations for your end of summer party planning convenience.

Floral Leis, available at!1. Host a Hawaiian Luau. Send off the summer like it is just beginning. What better way to ring in the fall than to gather all your friends to enjoy great food, fun music, and bright decorations. Just follow these simple tips to create the perfect Hawaiian Luau in your own backyard! Don’t forget to order some flower leis for your guests! You can also encourage them to arrive in their favorite tropical or cruise attire, including sundresses and Hawaiian shirts!

Food: Consider a pig roast for a fun and festive theme meal at your Hawaiian Luau. You might also like: Chicken Hawaiian (pineapples and cherries included), rice with sweet and sour chicken or sweet and sour meatballs, any kind of fish or seafood dish, especially shrimp cocktail or fried shrimp, fruit salad, and more. Let’s not forget about any vegetarian or vegan guests – be sure to have a nice garden salad, a veggie stirfry, vegetarian baked beans, and possibly one additional tropical dish.

Drink Umbrellas! Available at Mai Tais, pina coladas, Malibu bay breezes, and blue Hawaiians will get your luau off to a great start! Don’t forget some themed tropical glasses for all your friends. As a bonus, check out the palm tree cooler and the great ambiance it can offer to your Hawaiian Luau!

Music: Conjure up something from the Beach Boys collection, throw on some Jimmy Buffett, or rock out with some tribal rhythms or beats from a steel drum band. The right music can really set the scene for your Hawaiian Luau.

Decorations: Sand, seashells, bright tropical colors (neons work great – pink, orange, green, blue, yellow), decorative fish, shellfish, or other tropical creatures, candles, and synthetic or fresh tropical flowers all make for the perfect Hawaiian Luau.

Visit for tropical Hawaiian Luau decorations, music, and more!

More End of Summer Party Themes… Reggae and More! Keep Reading…

Things to Do on Your Hawaiian Honeymoon – A Photo Tour

If you’ve decided to plan your honeymoon in Maui or Hawaii in general, you’ve made a very wise choice. Hawaii is perhaps the most desired and romantic vacation spot in all of the United States, if not in the entire world. Before you begin your Hawaiian honeymoon adventure, you may wish to plan a few exciting activities, or you may at least want to research what type of activities available to Hawaiian honeymooners.

We’ve prepared a photo tour accompanied by music for your enjoyment, as well as further details within this article.

Just as a sampling, here are some exciting and relaxing Hawaiian honeymoon activities you may enjoy:

  • Cocktails and conversation
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Massages on the beach
  • Relaxing on the beach or by the pool
  • Room service!
  • Sight-seeing
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming

We hope you enjoyed this article and photo tour, but not as much as you enjoy your own romantic Hawaiian honeymoon!

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Ten Ways to Save Money and Live Frugally

With the rising costs associated with daily life, it really pays off to live a little more frugally these days. Save your pennies and dimes! (Photo courtesy of just a few small adjustments to your lifestyle, you can save a bundle. To save yourself some money and find ways to improve your financial situation, try these ten ways to save money and live frugally.

1. Create a budget and stick with it. Allot yourself a certain amount of money for certain things each month. The best method I have found so far is working with the envelope method. Assign an envelope to each category for which you will need money in a given month – perhaps one for grocery money, one for general spending money, and so forth. (I suggest $50 a month if that fits your personal budget- then you get roughly $12.50 a week for guilty pleasures. Now, don’t you feel like you’re a kid again, waiting for your allowance?)

If you discipline yourself and avoid spending every red cent, you can roll over your allotments to the next week’s budget. You can even borrow from the surplus of one if you are desperate to fulfill another need. Just be careful not to go overboard because the worst thing you can do is dig yourself into a financial trench.

2. Save going out to eat for special occasions.
Wednesday, aka “Hump Day” or the halfway point of your workweek, does not qualify as a special occasion. Nor does the long-awaited Friday, the Monday blues or any other made-up work related excuse.

Welcoming a promotion, celebrating your birthday, anniversary or other holiday, and spending an evening out on a date are all acceptable reasons for enjoying a meal in a dining establishment. You don’t have to give up on eating out altogether, but use the discretion within your conscience rather than that of your stomach.

If you are extra ambitious or if you merely find yourself craving that fast food combo meal a bit too often, designate a glass jar or other container to be your honorary savings jar. Whenever you really want to eat out, try to restrain yourself and put the money you would have spent in the jar.

3. Bring your lunch to work or school. Save money by cooking your meal at home and bringing it in, or pack leftovers. Don’t like leftovers? Tough. Learn. Use discipline and save the money so that one day you can afford to eat out wherever you like.

That cheeseburger meal with steaming fries may sound good and may truly make your mouth water when the guy in the next cube brings one back to his desk, but think about how much more you would love to have your dream car, a boat or even a new laptop. Sure it will take some time, but with the right savings plan and some serious discipline, anything is possible.

Set up a savings plan. (Photo courtesy of Strategize. Combine your trips out in the car to reduce unnecessary driving. As the prices of gasoline continue to shoot through the roof, plan your weeks so that you run all your errands within the same trip. Go to the bank, the post office, stop in for your doctor’s appointment and then hit up the grocery store on your way home. (Note: Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s were not mentioned in this itinerary. That was not a misprint!)

5. Cut coupons. As 1985-coupon-club as it may seem, I sure wouldn’t complain about a few extra bucks in my pocket or in my bankbook, how about you? My mom is the queen of all coupon shoppers – I kid you not. She just recently went to the supermarket to take advantage of a special promotion and came home with $419.94 worth of groceries that she had finessed out of the store for a meager $210.98. She virtually cut her bill in half – and you can, too, with the right mindset, discipline and arsenal of coupons stashed away in your purse.

6. Start a vegetable garden. With fresh produce prices on the rise, you can’t go wrong by growing your own. As a child, my best friend and I used to cart away our moms’ garden goods to the shopping center at the top of our street. We sat up there on a blanket with a money bag and a sign, collecting summer cash from passers-by and those who happened to be in the mood for a slice of Jack’s Pizza, new riding equipment for equestrians, or perhaps a sweet confection, all available from various merchants. Nowadays, somebody would probably slap us with a fine or send us home to mom, telling us we needed a license to sell things. Thankfully, in the days of our early entrepreneurship, we learned the value of earning one’s keep and keeping a hold of it!

7. Don’t do your food shopping on an empty stomach! Many people believe that shopping for groceries while you are hungry is one of the worst things one can do, for the simple reason that if your stomach is growling, you will be more inclined to impulse buy. Hmm, that pepperoni looks good. Ooh…donuts! …and cookies, and candy, and ice cream, and potato chips, and fried chicken, and pizza… And eventually the cashier begins to wonder if you are pregnant – regardless of your sex – simply based on the gluttonous array of junk food and entrees safely stashed in your shopping cart. Better check out – after you’ve had something to eat to tide you over!

8. When bargain hunting, learn the art of discretion. If you didn’t come out specifically looking for it, you probably don’t need it. If you can’t think of a significant use for it within about 45 seconds (a gift for someone, to replace something that is old and decrepit in your house…), you probably don’t need it.

Sometimes some deals are just too good to pass up – like a $55 designer sweater for $1.95 at the Bon Ton, or a business suit in exactly your size for $5. No lie – these are actual bargains that I have sniffed out and taken advantage of. I can also tell you that I have three extras of those sweaters and three other shirts I got at the same price that have no home but a bag cluttering up my room. I’m sure I saved my receipt but I may have waited too long to make the return. (Find out from your stores how long you have to make a return or exchange if you think you might need to know.)

9. Save your receipts.
You never know when the time might come that you will need them. OK, so if you did go out and get that burger meal against my advice, you really don’t have to feel bad destroying the evidence. I can’t really think of a time when you will need a receipt for a cheeseburger – and besides, that is something one would expect not to return!

Many stores will allow their consumers to return unopened merchandise as long as a receipt is presented at the time of return, unless otherwise posted. Some stores also value the customer’s business enough to accept opened makeup that the shopper did not like, as well as some other items that have been unwrapped.

10. Skim out a little of your paycheck for safekeeping. When you get your paycheck each pay period, make a commitment to yourself to set a certain amount aside for general savings. You should have a savings account at your bank into which you can easily deposit funds. Once you get into the habit of setting that money aside, it will sta
rt to add up and garner interest.

Top Ten Romantic Weekend Getaways for Couples of All Ages

Consider these top 10 romantic weekend getaways for couples of all ages.Sometimes taking a week-long vacation isn’t an option. That’s when romantic weekend getaways for couples can really do the trick to recharge your batteries and reignite the spark that brought you together. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be dozens of wonderful places where you can enjoy a romantic weekend getaway.

Consider these ideas for a weekend or an extended weekend away, and you may find yourself the perfect excuse to leave home and enjoy a new and romantic destination within a reasonable drive from your home. Here are my top ten romantic weekend getaways for couples of all ages.

Top 10 Romantic Weekend Getaways for Couples

1. Hide away at a quaint Bed and Breakfast. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be an adorable, unusual, or elegant Bed and Breakfast near enough to suit your search for weekend escapes. You will both enjoy the intimate and relaxing setting that a Bed and Breakfast provides, offering you seclusion and time just for the two of you. Enjoy the meals, explore the countryside, and spend time focusing on each other.

Enjoy a trip to the mountains for the weekend retreat.2. Immerse yourself in the finer things in your nearest wine country. Wine in and of itself embodies a fine element of romance. To amplify that feeling to exponential form, plan a romantic couples weekend getaway at your nearest wine country and check out several of the different wineries. If you can find a Bed and Breakfast or a cottage for rent within a reasonable walking distance of the wineries, all the better! If you simply can’t spare the expense to travel to a wine region, consider picking up a few varietals at your local wine and spirits store and then plan and prepare a wine tasting of your own.

3. Hit the slopes… or the slides. If you and your significant other are a couple of regular snow bunnies, head off to the slopes where you can really enjoy a romantic weekend excursion. Glide down the mountain, hold hands on the chair lift, and sip hot chocolate by the fire inside the cozy lodge. If skiing isn’t in season, consider visiting a water park to relive some of your childhood fun. The slides and wave pools can be a great way to cool off on a hot day.

4. Soak up the sun, wade into the surf, and relax on the sand. For many people, the beach is a must-see destination each and every time the summer rolls around. If you can get to the seashore conveniently from your hometown, make sure you pack your camera and plenty of sunblock. You can ride the waves, walk out in to the ocean, stroll along the sandy shores and search for seashells during this classic romantic weekend getaway for couples, families, or singles alike.

Enjoy romantic breakfast in bed with your sweetheart.5. Sneak away to a romantic couples resort. If you really want some special time to yourselves, book yourselves some intimate accommodations at a couples resort or at a posh resort that offers romantic couples packages. You might spend some time taking tennis lessons together, or visiting the spa for a romantic couples massage. Perhaps you won’t even want to leave your room! Depending on the nature of your accommodations, your room might even have its own private Jacuzzi.

Keep Reading for Five More Romantic Getaways…

Best Tips for Harvesting from Your Vegetable Garden

Watching a garden grow to the point of producing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or foliage can be immensely rewarding. Whether you start your garden from seeds, seedlings, or full-sized plants, the joy you feel at the onset of the blossoms and blooms or delicious produce is unmatched by many other outdoor hobbies.

To take full advantage of your gardening efforts, be sure to water your plants as often as needed, taking special care not to overwater them. Also, feel free to fertilize plants according to the packaging on the MiracleGro container or that of your preferred fertilizer product. Take the time to weed your gardens as needed, and apply plant-friendly pesticides if you find the bugs are out of control. If you take good care of your garden, your garden will take good care of you when it comes time to deliver the fruits of your efforts.

Growing is fun! (Photo courtesy of

When your vegetable plants have matured and produced their first yield, you’ll surely be proud of your tremendous accomplishment. You’ll also notice your grocery bill should go down a bit, if you tend to purchase a fair amount of fresh produce regularly. To help you get the most out of your vegetable garden and its harvest, follow these easy tips!

“Harvest often,” says Roses for Dummies author Lance Walheim. “Letting crops get over mature will reduce future yields.

Harvest often for the best crop yield. (Photo courtesy of“If you don’t pick cucumbers, beans, peppers, squash, and others on a regular basis, the plant puts it energy into making those fruit bigger and bigger (and inedible) at the expense of setting more fruit that can be eaten. So if you don’t pick regularly, the plant stops producing. It’s better to pick and throw it away than to leave it on the plant.”

Gardening is great for goodwill and sharing. You can offer excess vegetables to your neighbors, friends, family, and coworkers rather than letting the veggies spoil or grow too large on the vine.

Another good reason to harvest frequently is to give yourself an edge against the wild creatures that also like to pilfer your produce. Rabbits and deer are notorious for helping themselves to many things in just about any garden, and to gardeners, this can be especially frustrating. If you visit your garden daily or every other day, chances are that you can beat these critters to the punch and get most of your veggies before they end up half-chewed up or completely gone.

If you plan to pick a fair quantity of smaller vegetables such as peas, green beans, or small to medium sized tomatoes or potatoes, you may wish to bring a colander with you. The colander comes in especially handy when you end up cooking your fresh-picked veggies on the same day as harvesting them.

Work hard for your garden and your garden will work hard for you. (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.)If you don’t get quite enough veggies in one picking for dinner, don’t worry. You can always save them for a few days until your garden produces enough for a meal. Most fresh-picked or store-bought fresh vegetables can last for anywhere between two days and two weeks in the crisper of your refrigerator. Some vegetables may benefit from bags or containers. Also, a good rule of thumb is to wait to wash your fresh produce until right before you want to cook or eat it.

Finally, if you are interested in collecting seeds from your garden for next year’s harvest, you may have to do a small amount of research, depending on the type of vegetables you’ve been growing. Collecting seeds from your vegetable garden should be a fairly easy process once you learn what steps you need to take.

“It’s different for each vegetable,” Walheim says. “Lettuce needs to be allowed to bolt (go to seed), which means you can’t eat it. Tomatoes have to be deseeded and the seeds dried and properly stored.”

Lance Walheim is the author of Roses for Dummies and Vegetable Gardening (Gardening and Landscaping), both of which are available at

Smart Packing Tips for Stylish Chicks

Dashing off to the beach for vacation or a weekend getaway? Pack light for an enjoyable and carefree trip! (Photo courtesy of so fast! Be sure you’ve packed all the essential items you’ll need to stay stylish and chic during your time in the sun! Grab your favorite beauty and fashion goodies, but don’t go overboard….

To maximize your fun, minimize the number of beauty accessories you lug along to you vacation location with these helpful packing hints:


* Lip gloss is critical for preventing chapped, dried out smackers, but even more importantly, for avoiding sunburned lips! Try to find a tasty chap stick that also offers SPF protection—read the fine print, as many advertise whether or not they include SPF15 or greater.

Don’t stress out over how much eye makeup to bring, and forget about the liquid foundation as the sticky heat makes it react quite differently than you’re used to….

* If you like, pack a waterproof mascara to prevent the waves from washing out your eyes. Nothing is worse than unexpectedly looking like a crybaby or a tired raccoon when you’re having the time of your life in the surf and on the sand! (Do not forget to pack makeup remover, as most waterproof mascara is resistant to even soap and water!)

* Bring a concealer stick or powder compact to touch up blemishes. Too much foundation on a warm day can look and feel “cakey” or may just run if the temperature is too high. Also, makeup bottles stowed away in luggage, purses and carry-on bags are a bad idea when traveling. I once had a bottle of liquid foundation coat the entire contents of my backpack, destroy a brand-new purse and give me at least an hour of clean-up in one fell swoop! If you simply cannot live without your liquid foundation, place the bottle in a zip-lock bag just in case!

* Craving some color? It can’t hurt to bring a hue or two of eye shadow… but be careful with lipstick, as it tends to melt when higher temperatures prevail!

Body Care:

* No matter how badly you want a tan, bring suntan lotion to protect your precious hide from overexposure! In this case, it may be necessary to bring a special “faces” sunblock to prevent breakouts as well as a standard bottle of sunscreen for use on your entire body.

* Though they are possibly the most obvious item, don’t forget your sunglasses!

* Just in case you do get some sunburn, do your body a favor and slap on some aloe. A medium-sized plastic bottle is more than you will need, and you’ll thank yourself for remembering it if you happen to fall asleep on the beach. (Of course, you can also buy this at your vacation destination – it just might cost a little more than it does at home!)

* For another miracle remedy, pick up a small bottle of cocoa butter lotion. Once the aloe has reduced the burning sensation from your skin, you can rub in a little cocoa butter to prevent peeling and to moisturize the afflicted area.

* Have you ever been caught in a sand storm? Well I have, and I can’t stress enough about the value of a bottle of eye drops in case those pesky particles of sand find their way into your eyes, whether by a storm itself or by a playful game of football, volleyball, or beach soccer.

* Don’t forget your normal necessities such as toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant or antiperspirant, towels, shaving gel and razors, tweezers, body wash, etc.

Hair Care:

* Remember to pack your shampoo and conditioner, brush and comb, elastic bands and/or barrettes. If you don’t want to heave your family-sized Don't forget to pack a hat! (Photo courtesy of of hair products to your vacation destination, you can easily pick up smaller travel-sized products. (Tight on money? You can always collect the small samples from hotels, as they are there for your use and wouldn’t you know—they fit perfectly in a small makeup bag!) If you are flying to your destination, pack all your liquid or cream-based products in plastic zip-lock bags. I once had a bottle of lotion explode on a flight, but thankfully I’d bagged it up tight before we left!

* When you spend time in the ocean or playing on the beach, what happens to the top of your head is likely the last thing on your mind. To help prevent sunburn on your scalp, consider packing a hat of some sort, a bandana, or a hair scarf.

* If dried-out hair due to excessive exposure to sun, chlorine or saltwater is a concern of yours, fret not! When you return home from your time away, try a deep-conditioning treatment or masque (Some use sea kelp to restore moisture).


* For a flirty appearance, bring a cute sarong or wrap to wear to the beach, or simply pack a pair of comfy shorts if you hope to beat up on the guys in football and Frisbee!

* Take two towels: one to lie on and one that is sand-free for when you need to dry off. A beach blanket or beach mat, or even a sheet from your accommodations, may also serve a handy purpose for time at the shore.

* An old T-shirt doubles as an escape from the sun’s powerful rays when you just want to relax and enjoy the sounds of the surf. Simply place the shirt over your face and you’ll still be able to experience the wonders of the beach without the sun in your eyes. Also, a T-shirt is good to have on hand, as it is important to cover exposed skin when the sun has already burned it.

* Normal clothes that you should be sure to bring: Shorts and tanks/tees, jeans or other long pants, perhaps a long-sleeve shirt and a hooded sweatshirt, a sundress, pajamas, bathing suit and underclothes. Don’t forget to bring a windbreaker or light jacket for those chilly nights off the coast!

* Footwear: Bring sandals or flip-flops, sneakers, and shoes to go with at least one nice outfit. (Hint: Try to pack outfits that look nice with the same sandals to reduce the need for extra shoes. As long as you can help it, you should not be toting an entire bag dedicated to shoes alone!)

What to Expect After Laparoscopy and Cyst Removal

Surgical procedures are never fun. For most people, they are downright unnerving. Even relatively noninvasive procedures and “routine outpatient surgeries,” like laparoscopies, laparoscopic cyst removal and so forth, still warrant cause for concern. Any surgery is a big deal! (Photo courtesy of Jane M. Sawyer.)

Time and time again, of all the people I know, I am the first person to run to the Internet to try and self-diagnose or to anticipate how I will feel during and after a procedure. I know I am not alone in that respect. So, I wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it might alleviate some worry or shed some light on laparoscopy and laparoscopic cyst removal. Through this article, I wanted to share some observations and experiences from my recent surgical procedure – laparoscopy to remove a benign cyst from one of my ovaries.

Completely out of character for me, I didn’t even read up on what laparoscopy was or how they do it. I relied on my doctor’s two-minute debriefing and the accounts of a few of my coworkers and family members who had also endured the same procedure. It astonished me to learn that removal of an ovarian cyst via laparoscopy is not at all uncommon. In fact, as I told more people about my upcoming laparoscopic procedure, it seemed each person’s mother, cousin, friend, or coworker also had the same surgery. I was not alone!

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves making tiny incisions in the abdomen. The surgery employs a lighted instrument (laparoscope) as a camera so the doctor can perform the procedure with clear visibility into the abdominal region. My procedure involved three incisions. The first one was inside my bellybutton (the most painful!), one on my left lower abdomen, and one in the pelvis area, just below my bikini line.

As the typically super busy person that I am, I found it easy to avoid and ignore the upcoming surgical procedure for a month and a half leading up to the big day. I stayed off of the WebMD and Mayo Clinic Web sites. I also completely blocked the surgery from my mind until the weekend preceding it. Even then, I really didn’t give the laparoscopy or the cyst removal much thought.

What to Expect on the Morning of the Laparoscopic Cyst Removal

Ask your doctor any questions you may have! (Photo courtesy of Carlos Paes.)When July 15 finally arrived, my stomach was tied in knots. My husband took me to the hospital and my mom and sister met us there. First, I met with a nurse for some preliminary stuff like testing blood pressure and going over a pre-surgery questionnaire.

Somewhat amusingly (in retrospect), I went into my surgical day with the intentions of enjoying a nice celebratory lunch once the pesky ovarian cyst had been whisked out of my body. I imagined French fries and a turkey club, hold the mayo, tomatoes, and lettuce. At first, I had the impression that my laparoscopic cyst removal surgery and recovery were going to be a breeze based on what I heard from the majority of the people who’d had laparoscopy or those who knew someone who had. I was not prepared for what I was about to hear, or what happened to me later that night.

Following some discussion with the nurse, the anesthesiologist visited me to go over some details. He reminded me of a character from one of the medical shows I like to watch so much. He casually informed me of various side effects of the anesthesia that would most likely impact the way I felt after the laparoscopy… nausea, pain, extreme pain in my shoulder from GAS THEY WOULD USE TO INFLATE MY BELLY!!! It now seemed that lunch might not be such a definite part of my day. In fact, I started to get really nervous at this point. Of course, the anesthesiologist assured me that I would already be sleeping for any of the scary parts of the procedure.

Laparoscopy Timing

A quick word on surgery times and scheduling…. Be prepared – there may be a bit of waiting around and sitting in a hospital gown with your butt cheeks flapping in the wind as you await your turn on the morning of your procedure. For me, the worst part besides being scared in general involved the fact that I could not eat or drink anything at all after midnight. I normally guzzle water like it’s going out of style every day, starting around 9 in the morning, if not earlier. It was tough to be allowed only a small sip of water here or there – I think a total of three sips from midnight to my surgery, which didn’t begin until around 11 a.m.

My hubby and mom and sister got to take turns sitting with me until my doctor came by to make sure I was ready. The nurse carted me over to a room where I met another nurse and then received an IV to relax me before they took me into the operating room where I would have the cyst removed from my left ovary. The IV did make me sleepy, and I barely remember anything between getting stuck in the arm and then talking a little bit to the anesthesia guys. The last thing I remember is just a blip – I saw these two big blue, bright lights above me and out I went.

Waking Up from Anesthesia After the Laparoscopy

Oh – did I forget to mention that they put a tube down your throat while they work and as you sleep? Yeah, well luckily they remove it before you wake up, but I did have quite the scratchy throat as I came to. Luckily the nurses have a heavy supply of ice chips and Styrofoam cups with little plastic spoons to help ease the raw throat.

Apparently, upon first waking up I asked the nurse about replacing my navel ring. I guess I was so worried about it closing up that it was the first thing on my mind when I started coming out of the anesthesia. I honestly don’t even remember asking her about it. Truthfully, when I realized the swelling and pain in my belly and especially bellybutton area, I realized that I would not be replacing my bellybutton ring anytime soon. In fact, I don’t think I’m going to replace it at all because I’m quite sure, at more than a week later the piercing hole is more than likely sealed shut. This piercing is the only one I have, other than earrings, so this is the only thing I had to remove besides all my jewelry.

One thing that amused me in particular upon waking up from the anesthesia – if you don’t take enough deep breaths, a machine hooked up to you starts to beep so that a nurse comes over. It took me a few times before I asked her what it meant, and then I made it a point to breathe better. I wanted to get out of the recovery room and go see my honey and my mom and sis! Soon after I learned the trick to earlier release, I found myself on the way back to the original room where I first started out that morning.

What to Expect in the Hospital after the Laparoscopy…

Message to My Readers

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are doing well and that the lack of recent updates on hasn’t been too disappointing for you. I just had some minor surgery this week and recovery has been slower and more troublesome than expected, so I have taken a small break from my normal Energizer Bunny routine to recharge my batteries. Ouch – what a bad pun – see, even my wit is hurting today.

I plan to add some updates and new content to the site this weekend if I feel up to it, and also I hope to launch a new contest on Monday. Please stay tuned and feel free to drop me a line if there’s anything in specific you’d like to read.

In the meantime, if you want a free photo book to display any of your special digital pictures, head over to CVS. You can get a 4×6″ or a 6×8″ photo book for free simply by using your ExtraCare card. The smaller books are $3.99 and the next size up is $7.99, both on sale, but then you get the equivalent value in ExtraBucks that you can spend on almost anything in the store, just like free money.

OK back to recovery for me. I just missed the site and missed hearing from you guys so anyway, everyone have a great weekend!

How to Get Brighter, Whiter Teeth and a Fresh, Clean Mouth

There’s really no wrong time for a fresh, clean mouth, and right now is a great time to get on track to whiter, brighter teeth and healthy gums. When soft drinks run aplenty and junk food spans as far as the eye can see, keeping our mouths and teeth fresh and clean can become a bit challenging. Lots of people have an on-the-go mentality, grabbing coffee at every turn, which – along with smoking – can ultimately be the demise of bright, sparkling white teeth.

Whitening your teeth doesn’t necessarily have to involve a cosmetic dentist and an expensive and nerve-wracking dental procedure. You can opt for professional teeth whitening, or you can try some products on your own and follow these tips to brighter and whiter teeth.


• Go easy on the coffee, soda, and tea. These beverages can stain or generally wreak havoc on your pearly whites.

• Quit smoking! If you smoke, you are doing more damage to your teeth than you may know. Tobacco is a top stain creator on teeth.

• Brush and floss regularly, and brush or rinse after every meal.

• Use a teeth whitening toothpaste or a toothpaste with baking soda to prevent further yellowing or staining of teeth.

• Visit your dentist for professional teeth cleanings at least once every six months.

• Speak with your dentist about any concerns you may have on the coloring of your teeth.


Colgate Total Advanced Whitening

You’ve got to brush your teeth anyway, so why not use something that tastes delightfully minty and deep cleans your teeth at the same time? Colgate Total Advanced Whitening delivers 12-hour germ-fighting protection to your mouth, which means your mouth feels fresher and cleaner longer.

This toothpaste uses an advanced silica system (similar to what dentists use to polish your teeth) to bring added whitening to your teeth. It features a patented anti-bacterial formula that is gentle, yet designed to protect the mouth tissues and the gaps and surfaces of teeth, even during eating and drinking.

In using the toothpaste, I found it pleasant to the senses and gentle enough for everyday use, as often as needed. The toothpaste tastes great and while I can’t say for sure from my own experience if it leaves noticeable whitening results, Colgate did run various tests to determine the product’s effectiveness. According to these studies, the tests involved real people and found a 30% higher efficacy for whitening teeth than the competition.

For more information on Colgate Total Advanced Whitening, visit Colgate online at

The Natural Dentist Whitening plus Peppermint Twist Toothpaste and Oral Rinse

For feel good, guilt-free whitening power, try products from The Natural Dentist. The Natural Dentist delivers Whitening plus Peppermint Twist toothpaste along with a variety of daily mouth rinses that soothe rather than sting. These oral rinse products contain no alcohol, dyes, or harsh chemicals and they are a nice follow-up to the whitening toothpastes.

Although I sometimes have a hard time getting the slightly thick toothpaste out of the tube, the Peppermint Twist toothpaste leaves me with a pleasant minty taste that is worth every bit of effort. Using both the toothpaste and the oral rinse together leaves my mouth feeling super clean and exceptionally refreshed. It’s tough to say if there’s been a notable whitening effect on my teeth in this small trial period, but one thing is for sure – I do feel better about my smile!

The Natural Dentist also offers whitening toothpaste and oral rinse in Orange Zest flavor, as well as a children’s version of toothpaste and mouth rinse. For more information about how to get a natural, healthier, and whiter smile, visit The Natural Dentist online at

Orbit White Gum

Chewing sugar-free gum can be a good thing to keep your teeth healthy, but it can also help to ease stress and help curb your appetite and your desire to smoke (if you’re trying to quit).

You can make an effort to brighten your smile with Orbit White gum. Created by Wrigley, Orbit White comes in a variety of tasty flavors like Peppermint, Spearmint, Bubblemint, Melon Breeze, and Fruit Sorbet. Gum packs are available in foil packs with cardboard sleeves or in larger canisters containing many pieces.

The Bubblemint flavor is truly delicious and reminiscent of BubbleYum, without as much chewy-blowy bubble. In my humble opinion, sugar-free whitening gum makes a great alternative when you can’t always brush your teeth between meals. It’s also a lovely breath freshener, so you can keep a healthy and clean, fresh mouth! For more information about Orbit White, visit online.

“A confident, white smile is the perfect complement to any wedding dress and doesn’t have to cost a fortune,” says Dr. Debra Glassman, a New York City cosmetic dentist with a long list of celebrity clients (like Jessica Simpson and Halle Berry!).

How Smart Is Your Dog?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but have you ever tested your dog to find out his or her IQ? Just because your dog knows how to sit, beg, or roll over doesn’t make your pooch the smartest pup on the block. Flipping treats off the nose is child’s play… just wait till you put your dog to the true test!

Golden Retrievers (Courtesy of morgueFile)

Dog intelligence can be broken down into problem-solving skills, learning, and thinking, as well as the ability and eagerness to learn and obey commands. Another way to determine a dog’s intelligence may involve teaching the pet a variety of spoken commands, such as sit, speak, beg, lie down, roll over, and shake.

“Studies have shown that some breeds tend to score better on dog IQ tests than others,” says Pooch IQ co-creator Stacy Stubblefield on the company Web site. “However, this may or may not be due to a higher overall intelligence for these breeds. In the past, each breed was bred to exhibit certain characteristics, such as hunting or herding abilities.

“Because of this, some breeds tend to be better at listening, paying attention, and learning new things. These breeds may score higher on an IQ test simply because they are more alert and attentive. This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean they are more intelligent than other dogs. When we designed our IQ kit, we made every attempt to standardize the test so that all dog breeds start on a level playing field.”

Web sites and resources tend to agree on a list of dog breeds that really make the charts for intelligence. Border collies are often recognized as top dog for their supreme intelligence and their desire to have a job and please their owners. Other dogs rating in the top ten for smarts include poodles, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Doberman pinschers, Shetland sheepdogs, Labrador retrievers, Papillons, Rottweilers, and Australian cattle dogs.

Just because these breeds are recognized as the smartest 10 dog breeds in the world doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll always be on top of their game for the IQ test. Your dog may be a beagle or basset hound or another breed, and he or she may perform well despite not making the top ten list for intelligence.

Stubblefield adds that a pooch’s poor performance on the IQ test doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is lacking in smarts. She suggests that the dog may be having a rough day or may not be hungry enough to desire treats and snacks.Border Collie (Photo courtesy of Mary R. Vogt,

“No matter what, a low score on the IQ test isn’t an indicator of the quality of your dog. As long as you have a pooch that makes you happy, his/her intelligence shouldn’t really matter.”

The Pooch IQ kit is designed to challenge dogs and to test their attention and their thought processes. Some of the skills that the Pooch IQ test tracks are the dog’s abilities in problem-solving, recognizing similarities, learning from experience, short-term memory skills, persistence, and recognizing patterns.

Dogs get to play with toys and enjoy treats, which offers a helpful element of positive reinforcement to the test. According to many psychology based studies, positive reinforcement shows strong correlation to effective learning and development.

You can give your dog the Pooch IQ test or you can work with your dog on vocabulary and commands to enhance listening and understanding. In addition to your dog’s natural intelligence, you can work with him or her to improve various skills.

The Pooch IQ Kit retails for $49.99. The set includes toys, puzzles, props, and a book containing 15 fun exercises for dogs and their owners to determine the Pooch IQ Score. For more information, visit Pooch IQ on the Web at

Five Top Travel Stops in Chicago

Chicago offers much to see and do, for seniors, for young children, and everyone in between. The breath-taking architecture begs attention and remembrance. Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, offers residents and visitors a sandy beach while the city itself has more than even a list would do justice. Deep-dish pizza’s reputation precedes itself – many say you can’t visit the city without at least trying the delectable dish.

From great eats to exciting shows and sports, it’s easy to spend days in Chi-town with a dozen or more items left on your to-do list. Whether you’re visiting Chicago for business or pleasure, make some time for these excellent activities and attractions.

Chicago – Home of Deep-Dish Pizza! If nothing else, you simply must try a slice of deep-dish pizza while you are visiting Chicago. The pies take roughly three quarters of an hour to bake, which is a small price to pay for the delightful taste that is so unlike any other. Chicago-style pizza is a meal in and of itself. Each slice of pizza must be cut with knife and fork (in my experiences), and brims with hearty tomato sauce, lots of cheese, and a variety of toppings if you so desire. The crust is dense and buttery, and quite delicious. No matter what you decide to do with your trip to Chicago, set aside at least one mealtime to enjoy this legendary style of pizza.

Gino’s East:

Lincoln Park Zoo – Animal lovers and those looking for a little bit of exercise on their trip can find adventure at the free community zoo. For a free venue, this place does it up right. The exhibits showcase animals of all kinds, boasting everything from seals and sea otters to primates, snakes and reptiles, the big cats, polar bears – even vulchers – and more. You can walk around, grab a bite to eat, take some pictures, rest at the lily pond, and learn more about animals than you’ve ever known. The staff members offer knowledgeable tidbits here and there, introducing certain animals by name, and showing off exciting happenings at the zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

Millennium Park and Grant Park – If you’ve got a few hours and nothing to do, head over to Millennium Park. The architectural wonders, expressive art, and beautiful gardens are well worth your trek. From towering fountains with faces that occasionally spit water out on people (Crown Fountain) to the enormous reflective jellybean, Cloud Gate, this park offers so much more than your run-of-the-mill recreational area. Millennium’s other key attractions include the sophisticated Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is an outdoor concert arena designed by Frank Gehry, as well as the contemporary Lurie Garden, which features many perennials and a hardwood footbridge, flanked by a dramatically lit hedge. Just adjacent to Millennium is Grant Park, where you can visit the giant fountain (Buckingham Memorial Fountain) that you see in the beginning credits of the sitcom Married, with Children.

Millennium Park:

Navy Pier – Whether you’re hunkering for a delicious frozen Italian ice treat or a ride on the giant ferris wheel, Navy Pier is a one stop shop for fun. You can check out the gift shops and souvenir stands inside and out, catch a show, or grab a bite to eat. For an especially social evening, grab a seat at the Navy Pier Beer Garden, where you can enjoy live music and great fair food, like burgers, hotdogs, fries, chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, salad, pizza, and much more, not to mention draft beer, bottled beer, and a fine array of mixed drinks.

Navy Pier:

Sports Fever – Wrigley Field, the home of major league baseball’s beloved Cubs, is a great destination for baseball fans and history buffs alike. The field may or may not be sold in the near future, so if you’re visiting Chicago anytime soon, take the cab ride over to the stadium – it’s sure to be worth your while. While you are in Chicago, you can also check out Comiskey Park (now known as U.S. Cellular Field), the home of the White Sox, or of course, take a ride over to the United Center to see where the Chicago Bulls basketball team and Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey team play.

Wrigley Field:
Comiskey Park / U.S. Cellular Field:
United Center:

No matter what you decide to do, tote along your camera to capture priceless memories and don’t forget some change for the meters or cash for your cab fare. Chicago is a great city to visit and explore, so get out there and enjoy it!