Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anniethology Holiday Gift Guide for Homies

One of my greatest pleasures is to recommend something I that I love, and have the “recommendee” love it too.
Allow me to recommend to you this gift guide for the “Homie” (Home and Garden enthusiast) on your life. I have created two lists: A list of things that I love and a list of things I would like to love.
Things I Love
· The Dyson has been my vacuum of choice for seven years. Many family members, friends, and readers have purchased the Dyson on my recommendation, without regret, despite the $400-$500 price tag. That may seem like a lot, but if you take into consideration the years of highly effective, nearly maintenance-free operation, it’s well-worth its cost.

Recently, though, my Dyson has suffered a setback and will need a trip to the Dyson doctor. I have yet to coerce a confession from the Payne children-perhaps a brighter light bulb in the interrogation lamp is needed- but all I know for sure is that someone in vacuumed up something wet and sticky, which is not recommended for optimal suction and contrary rules of regular operation. I am hoping for good news from the Dyson doc; I’ll let you know the prognosis.

· Would you like to take some of the drudgery out of cooking and cleaning for your favorite homie? How about making her look and feel adorable as she cleans the toilets or chops the veggies?

I recommend an apron and coordinating rubber gloves from “Diva Aprons.” Feminine styles, fun fabrics, and the fact that they are reversible, set them apart from other aprons. Use one side of the apron for cleaning and then flip it around for when you do the cooking.

Michele S., creator and head seamstress extraordinaire of “Diva Aprons” has combined with purveyor of handbags, belts, and jewelry, Amanda B. of “The Western Diva” to form a unique boutique store-within-a-store called, “The Two Divas.” Their boutique located inside of Real Deals on Hwy. 6 & 50, has its grand opening today. Talk about a one-stop holiday shopping for the domestic diva in your life.

· Being a woman who hates to have a lot of miscellany on her countertops, I recommend, the Caldrea Kitchen Caddy from Target. This simple, yet sophisticated cleaning caddy priced at $20, comes with hand soap, counter cleaner, and dish soap. It’s available in several scents, but I recommend the citron ginger. With its simple styling and kitchen friendly fragrance, you won’t mind it gracing your countertops.

Things I Would Like to Love
These next two items come highly recommended from a friend and fellow “homie.” If I am a good girl, perhaps next year they will make it onto the list of things I already love. (Note to Secret Agent Man: This is the part where you should make the most of your photographic memory.)
· The Shark Easy and Light Steam Mop enables you to clean quickly and simply and sanitize your hard floor surfaces. It’s available at Bed Bath and Beyond for $69.99. More expensive models are also available for the over-achieving gift giver.
· The Rowenta Pro Compact Steamer, also available at Bed Bath and Beyond and costs $50, takes wrinkles out of clothes and curtains with this lightweight, easy-to-use steamer. It heats up in just two minutes. No more excuses sending the kiddos out the door in wrinkled t-shirts and jeans. Just fire up the steamer and blast the wrinkles into oblivion. Not recommended for use while the kids are wearing the clothes, by the way.
Whether you chose one of the products I love for your “homie” for Christmas or one of the products I would like to love, one thing I know for sure is that no one has ever regretted taking my advice.
For more information about “The Two Divas” check out their websites: and

If you have Home tips, topics, or projects you would like to share with Annie Payne, please contact her at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The More the Merrier: What to do with multiple Christmas trees.

As seen in the Home of Garden section of The Daily Sentinel, Saturday, December 4, 2010. Sorry, no pictures, from the actual article; the newspaper owns them.

A year ago I wrote a column entitled, "What does your Christmas tree say about you?" Said column brought me instant fame and glory; in Manitoba. It also acquainted me with Darrell Jones. He sent me an e-mail to inquire if he had multiple Christmas trees, what did that say about him? Multiple personalities?
When you think of someone who puts up more than one tree each year, perhaps you think are cuckoo for Christmas or a tree hoarder, and those types of people are out there, but Mr. Jones is not one of them. After visiting his home this week, I would consider him a prime example of how to do multiple trees in a classy, understated way, if decorating multiple trees in your house could be called, “understated.”
The decision process to put up more than one tree is not that different from whether or not to have pet. Can you afford it? Do you have room for it? Who will take care of it?
Speaking of pets, Jones’ dog, Jagger, doesn’t seem to mind the extra company during the holidays, when I asked Jones about it, he said that his faithful Golden Retriever never bothers his collection of trees.
Jones has nine, in fact; four trees in the house and five trees outside. He started this tradition several years ago, when he was working as a building manager and was decorating trees for the building lobby and tenants. The habit just sort of stuck. Friends, co-workers, and now columnists, appreciate his efforts as he hosts several holiday parties during the Christmas season to show-off his collection.
Jones starts out with a theme. This year, his trees are white, each with a different color of ornaments and lights. The largest, and most impressive, tree stands in the center of the front room. It has gold ornaments with white lights. One of the most eye-catching is a sunburst ornament he picked up in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The tree in the corner of the kitchen has red ornaments, including chili peppers, and red lights. The tree in his dining room, the smallest of the four, has green and blue ornaments with green lights, and finally the tree in the boudoir, which strays from the theme because it’s green, casts an inviting glow with gold lights and white ornaments.
When I asked if there’s a possibility of more trees in the future and where he would draw the line, he answered,
“I don’t think there is a line, as long as it doesn’t look cluttered. He added,
“If there is a line, I just don’t know where it is.”
Jones has a no-furniture-moving policy when it comes to setting up the trees or deciding where they will go. This keeps the collection under control.
Here are some of Jones’ tips for setting up multiple trees and creating your own winter wonderland:

Start off with a small cluster of trees where you would usually set up your single tree. Perhaps that would be a little less intimidating than trying to decide which empty corner to fill in your house.
To keep the trees from looking overloaded he suggests making sure each ornament has room to hang properly as opposed to sitting on the branch below.
He takes a stand-back-and-look approach, when hanging the ornaments. Hang a few, then stand back and look, and make adjustments as needed.
Jones also suggests making sure the lights are hung uniformly with equal distance between each row of strands. When asked if there was anything he absolutely would not put on his trees, the answer was “blinking lights.” He thinks they look cheap.
The final bit of advice Jones gave is to not let Christmas decorations linger longer than they should. He carefully stores is trees and ornaments on January 2nd. No fail.
So what do Darrell Jones’s trees say about him? They say, as long as it’s done in a tasteful way, “The more the merrier.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

#FF Follow Friday: Blogs worth following

I met this sweet girl on my trip to Memphis last month. Found out today that she is a foodie and loves to write about it. Her blog is Clara Cupcake: A blog for hungry people. Shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up food is a necessary evil for me to keep my family alive, but Clara makes it look so appealing. Check out this big cookie cake she made!
Another lady I know in real life. She is sharing her struggle with cancer. The "Big C" is so scary to me, but Jen's blog , "A Day in the LIfe of a Cancer Mommy," takes out the mystery and shares her story with a lot of heart. She's just doing her best as a wife and mother to young children, in the fight for her life. Show both of these wonderful ladies some comment love today, would ya?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daring to Dine with Color

I am the type of person that doesn’t need to be talked into color. I need to be talked out of it. If I had my way, it would look like Rainbow Brite painted my house.
In our last home, I experimented with color (to the chagrin of Secret Agent Man) a lot. I had a “Vigorous Violet” master bathroom and a “Chinese Red” wall in the kitchen, and a “Victorian Rose” front door.
Currently at the House of Payne, I’ve dialed back the experimentation quite a bit. “Accessible Beige” has dominated nearly every square inch for six years. It’s a great neutral color, but I decided it’s time to spice things up in my dining room.
This time I enlisted the help of recent Interior Design graduate, Erica Burgon. I needed someone with an education in color theory and good taste to bounce my ideas off.

I appreciate her design philosophy that “if you love it, it works!”
One thing she noticed right off the bat was that the off-white walls of our dining room didn’t lend anything to the feel or look of the room.

Burgon said, "Design should reflect who you are.”

She noted we are a fun family with a busy life, who enjoy being together. She also knew of my desire to give the Payne’s a beautiful and formal place to congregate, in a house that is usually littered with jackets, shoes, backpacks, and more soda cans than this columnist would like to admit.

“I want to help you discover your flair for design,” she said. And with that she pulled out her color sample fan deck and we set to the task of choosing a wall color that would set a mood and make a statement that would enhance the room and not be a distraction.

She first introduced me to some recent color trends:
· Bold brights that make a traditional home and pieces look more unique and add an eclectic element, like: tomato red, berry magenta, deep apricot, exotic coral and peacock blue.
· Complex neutrals that you can’t pin down with a single word, like: bluish, greenish, or pinkish beige. These colors are inspired by natural woods and hand-dye fabric. The new neutrals tend to be more refined than raw.
· Turquoise and clear, light blue continue to be popular colors in home design. Paired with white for a clean combination or set off with red for contrast, the blue family won’t be going anywhere soon.

I considered all the color trends Burgon presented when picking a paint color. I even took into consideration that my feng shui practitioner told me that my dining room was located in the wealth quadrant of my home and according to Asian tradition, purple was the color of wealth.

Erika steered me away from using purple on the walls, but knowing my need for “good chi,” she promised to bring in the purple through a floral arrangement for the table.

We finally decided to use one of the “complex neutrals.” We chose a color in the same family as “Accessible Beige,” just a few shades darker, a greenish taupe called “Virtually Taupe,” from Sherwin Williams.

After a cumulative eight hours of labor, including shopping for paint and accessories and an overall cost of $150, I am in love with my spicier, more sophisticated, formal dining room.
With Erica Burgon’s help, I took my dining room from drab to fab. Now, if Rainbow Brite shows up for dinner, she’s going to have to ditch the multi-colored leg warmers for something a little more formal.

To find out more about Eric Burgon’s designs, visit her website at

Monday, November 15, 2010

Everyone has a twin. Here's mine! + Monday Mysteries

Clickety here to read all about our similarities.
Now, I have to finish putting on my make-up. Skipped the mascara this morning, as I was headed to the chiropractor and all my effort to glamorize gets left on the face paper anyway.
Then off to the orthodontist with Boy #2. Will the Payne's be three for three for retainers? We will find out.
After that, I'll be on-air from 4-7pm. We will discuss, of course, Bristol Palin's chances for staying another week on DWTS. And, during the traffic report, I'll announce what is on the 5th Street Bridge. What will it be?
We will find out.
Later tonight, I am going to a Norwex party with my neighbor. I have a feeling my life is about to change. Will I spend $75 on microfiber cloths that allow you to skip cleaner all together? We will find out.
These and many more mysteries to be unveiled on this the third Monday of November 2010.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Payne Family Full-Proof Anti-Gastrointestinal Stressitude Halloween Plan

To say that I love Halloween would be an understatement. It doesn’t matter whether I dress up as Sarah Palin or Zombie Mom (which for some could be considered one in the same). If I could breathe Halloween, I would. If I could bathe in Halloween, I would. If I could legally change my name to “Halloween,” I would. But who would read a column written by someone named “Halloween Payne?” Muwahahaha!
I remember a night, sometime during the 80’s, when I suffered Halloween pain. Dressed in my mom’s pink chiffon robe with marabou feather trim and a tin foil crown, I took to the streets with a blue floral pillowcase in hand to trick o’ treat.
Usually, the kids in our Redlands neighborhood would just make the loop around Terrace Drive. But, if we were lucky, one of our parents would drive us to the nearby neighborhood of Panorama, where we could collect triple the candy in half the time. We were even luckier still if we could then go to Monument Village, where it was rumored they passed out full-sized candy bars!
By ten o’clock the following morning, still dressed in my mom’s robe and dilapidated crown, with a half of a masticated Tootsie Roll in my mouth and the other half in my hair, surrounded by empty candy wrappers, I reached down into the bottom of my once heavy-laden pillowcase to find it completely empty.
In twelve short hours, I had eaten my weight in candy.
What happened after the sugar rush had worn off and the gastrointestinal difficulties began isn’t something I would wish on my worst enemy, let alone my own children.
In order to spare the Payne kids, each year we enact a three-fold plan; it’s all about prevention, intervention and moderation. I’ve written about it before, but it’s worth repeating, especially if I could save just one child from the same painful, shame-filled fate I experienced in the 80’s. It’s called,
“The Payne Family Full-Proof Anti-Gastrointestinal Stressitude Halloween Plan”
The prevention part of my plan consists of a pre-trick o’ treating dinner. I make sure my kids have their stomachs full of “real food,” before their big night of haunting.
It’s a Payne family Halloween tradition that our pre-trick o’ treating dinner consist of a “mystery menu.” If we are having spaghetti, I’ll change the name to “Worms with Gut Sauce.” Or if chili is on the menu, I’ll change the name to “Ground Goblin Brains with Beans.”
Adding food coloring is another easy, but fun way we add some creepiness to our Halloween dinner. For instance, “Black as a Bat Meat Loaf” or “Purple People Eater Chicken Pot Pie.”
With their stomachs full of a spooky, but square meal, a few pieces of candy before bed shouldn’t be a big deal.
All the collected candy goes in a communal bowl. Then (and this is the best part of my plan), Secret Agent Man and I go through the bowl to pick out any candy that may be “tainted,” i.e.: Snickers or Peanut M &M’s. They can keep the Three Muskeeters, in my opinion.
This whittles the cache down quite a bit. If you try my plan at home, what you do with the “tainted” candy is up to you (wink).
We keep our communal candy bowl in a secure area (like Secret Agent Man’s desk drawer) where I, as the “Candy Cop” dole out a few pieces of candy at a time over the next few weeks.
Last year, our communal candy bowl lasted until the day before Christmas. All the “good stuff” was gone the first week. By December we almost had to force ourselves to finish off the Bit O’ Honeys, Necco Wafers, and Boston Baked Beans. Who passes that stuff out anyway?
Thankfully over the years I’ve learned to celebrate Halloween more responsibly. I need to set an example for my children, after all. I can keep the Zombie Mom or Sarah Palin costume, but, please loyal readers, save me from myself. If you see me in line at the DMV, do me a favor; ask me to step aside, save me from changing my name to Mrs. Halloween Payne.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A party I'm sorry I missed

"Witchy Women!"

Check it out here and here. Fun ladies, creative decor, yummy foods, perfect evening!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Decorating begets more decorating

Just like potato chip munching, once you start you can't stop. I added this little banner or pennants to my halloween house. It's been a long time since I've busted out the craft paper, ribbons, and glue sticks. It felt really good to be crafty again. Now, I need to clean off my little project from Secret Agent Man's desk before he gets back from...from...well, I could tell you, but then I'd know the rest.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

WANTED: PreFerably AliVe, RolE ModeLs

I am taking applications for roles models. The only pay is my eternal adoration. I know it's not much, but people have told me that I am really good at giving compliments and if you like someone telling you how wonderful you are, perhaps you should apply. Admittedly, my standards are impossibly high, but I know the right role models are out there somewhere. Sucking up is commensurate with experience. The more experience, the more sucking up. Only the fabulous need apply.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Writing on the Facebook Wall

Katie Landers what I am having for dinner! :) Take a look at my friends blog! she has some amazing recipes on it!

Better Than Burgers: Lisa's Stromboli blog.
We made this the another night for dinner. I was a little nervous, because I'm a... picky eater and I've never eaten Stromboli before, but I wasn't disapointed! It was so good! We had the nephews over for dinner and even the one year old gabbled it up. Hubs informed me we need to go through this websit...See More
17 minutes ago · Comment ·LikeUnlike · Share

Annie Payne I dunno about the "stromboli" but I bet you could convince me it was good if you served it with the pumpkin roll they also feature on the blog. Easily bribed with food, especially if I didn't make it.
10 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Katie Landers this whole blog is amazing! I love mormon food! lol
10 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Annie Payne I know what ya mean. Mormons self-medicate with food, therefore 9 out of 10 "Mormon" meals involve melted cheese and bacon.
8 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ripped from my Facebook Wall

Annie Payne Secret Agent Man knows me so well, he just upgraded our satellite package. Some women want diamonds, I just want more channels.
36 minutes ago · Friends Only · Comment ·LikeUnlike

Katie Landers I love you annie! I think you are my soul mate! :)
33 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Annie Payne I have Glee, DWTS, Flipping Out, and Real Estate Intervention on the DVR tonight. Katie, what about you?
6 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Annie Payne Oops and Oprah.
6 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Karla L. King I have lived without cable or satellite for 4 years. Does this make you break out in hives? :) lol.
5 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Annie Payne I think I'd be mute if I didn't have television. I wouldn't know what to talk about.

Me: Did you see "Project Runway?"
You: No.
Me: (blink, blink)
2 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pony up for Partners

(Waylon's face is not fuzzy in real life. I just have a crummy camera phone.)

This weekend I had the chance to be on our local ABC affiliate KJCT 8 for the Mesa County Partners Auction. I served as an auctioneer, although there was no
"Hey, batta, batta, saw-wing, batta."
(Wait, that's not what auctioneers do!)
No, I just presented the items up for bid, the best way I know how.
I am happy to report, I did not humiliate my mother, my station, or my faith, so it was a successful night.
My co-auctioneers were fellow radio personalities, Ed from KOOl 107.9 and Waylon from KEKB 99.9. They were total pros.
I was so happy to be a part of this great charity event "for the children." (Tear.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jump back into school with the Net

From Fly Lady to fabulous lunches, websites to help you get a jump on the new school year.

Click here to read my latest column at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Like sands through the hour glass



I'm endlessly fascinated with how time just keeps marching on. I feel grateful for it. I feel grateful for change. I feel grateful to know that I don't have to be the same person today I was yesterday. I guess you can say I am into the whole "hopey-changey" thing. Let the winds of change blow and thrash and wreak a little bit of havoc. Let them knock over the trash cans and blow the lids down the street. I'll either find them again or get new lids. It's all good. Just please, oh please, don't let change come to an end. Stagnation, bad. Same-old-same-old, bad. Let the change come, blow, roll, and swirl and I will swirl and twirl and change along with it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What do your yard ornaments say about you?

Perhaps you remember at Christmas time I revealed that I have a very rare talent. Some might call it a gift. Others, the more incredulous, call it a cheap party trick, but I have yet to meet anyone who can do what I do. I am a Christmas Tree Prognosticator. It’s sort of like reading palms. I can tell a lot about a person’s life and personality by their Christmas tree.
Word of my special gift has spread far and wide. I was even asked to do an interview for a radio station in Winnipeg, where I prognosticated my little heart out for the Canadians. Now I can add, “Big in Manitoba,” to my résumé.
This gem of a talent trickles into the warmer months too. Like most people who possess a rare talent, I can’t give it up for free. A girl has to eat, ya know? But, I’m not selfish, so here’s a sample.
“What do your yard ornaments say about you?”
The Flamingo
If you have a flamingo in your yard, you are expressing to the universe, “I’d rather be somewhere tropical.” It wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility to believe that you also have a collection of Hawaiian shirts.
In addition, flamingo people are patient. Like the flamingo that can stand comfortably for long periods of time on one foot, flamingo ornament owners can stand a lot, too. Flamingo people make good neighbors, because they won’t curse your name under their breath, or otherwise, when your Chihuahua with the Napoleonic complex barks at the other dogs taking their morning stroll through the neighborhood park.
The Frog
If you have a frog ornament in your yard you believe in the possibility of change. Just like the princess kisses the frog in the end of a fairytale, a frog ornament owner believes that things can change on a dime for the better. They believe that everything, even bumpy, slimy, ill-mannered amphibians that pee in your hand when you pick them up have their own beauty that deserves to be appreciated. Speaking of beauty…
The Gazing Ball
If you have a gazing ball in your yard, you are as vain as the day is long. But, just because you are vain, doesn’t mean you are all bad.
Oh no, in fact gazing ball owners believe in multiplying beauty. In fact, they may be the type of person that would help a neighbor with weeding, watering or garden tips, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their gazing.

The Garden Gnome
Garden gnome owners suffer from wanderlust. They are campers, hikers, sailors, and frequent fliers. They don’t believe in staying in one place for too long and perhaps have moved that gnome like a gypsy from garden to garden as they moved from house to house.
Garden Gnome owners also believe in magic. That gnome is more than just an ornament to them. It is a mythical creature that has a personality, a life, and a voice. They imagine their gnome taking little adventures when they’re not looking. They believe that even little things can make big things happen.
The Whisky Barrel
Whisky barrel owners reflect with fondness on a simpler past. They keep things around that remind them of that. They are recyclers and don’t like to waste anything. Whisky Barrel owners most likely have a windmill ornament in their yard, also. This prognosticator has no explanation for why the whisky barrel and the windmill go together, but they do.
If you are one of those people that have two or more of these items in your yard, there is a medication for that: It’s called Cantmakeupmymindopren.
That’s it. That’s all you get for your free sample. How did I do? Eerily close, eh? If you want a full Yard Ornament Prognostication, you’ll have to invite me to your BBQ. A girl has to eat, ya know?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"I heard you are a famous blogger."

I had a woman tell me that ^ today. Obviously the person who told her I was a famous blogger doesn't read my blog or know me that well or else they would know that I'm horribly neglectful of my blog and that it is the least interesting thing about me.
How about the fact that I have a radio show or that I'm a columnist or that I just ate my weight in homemade macaroni and cheese?!
Here is more proof that my blog is the least interesting thing about me.
Look how far I can spread my toes!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Note to self

Don't go to the grocery store after watching "Losing it with Jillian." Made me feel like a crummy mother buying Cocoa Puffs for my kids.

Jillian is amazing. This week she tried to change the Yavapai Apache Nation.

Jillian raised the frybread over her head and told the people,

"This is not food, it's poison!"

And she threw the frybread in the trash.

At first the elders were very upset, but then they realized she was just trying to help.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Keeping kids busy during the summer

“Who cut their hair on the couch?”
“Why does the dog have one blue paw?”
“Where did all the kitchen chairs go?”
These and many more questions like these are not a good way to start summer vacation.
My experience as a mother of three children, including twins, has taught me that it’s easy to entertain a child, but not so easy to keep them busy. Allow me to explain the difference.
It’s easy to put on a movie for your toddler or allow your tween all the computer time they want to keep them occupied or from destroying the house. On the other hand, it takes more effort to give them opportunities to grow and develop into independent, well-rounded, active, self-sufficient young people.
It wasn’t without difficulty, but I taught my preschoolers to help around the house. I involved them in my daily chores: folding towels, mopping floors, preparing meals, etcetera.
I had to let go of some of the perfectionism. The towels weren’t always folded to my liking. The floors sometimes needed to be re-mopped, but I wanted them to learn that they weren’t too little to be an active part of the upkeep of our home and that it wasn’t all mommies job.
I’m now reaping the benefits of their early training. I have three children who are helpful, compliant, and carry-out household tasks with little to no whining.
Here are a few of my tips for keeping children actively engaged in things that will benefit themselves and the family:
Early to bed, early to rise, even in the summer
Allowing your children to set their own sleeping schedule in the summer, doesn’t do anything for them in the long run. If anything it will teach them to be disappointed adults. Sleeping-in isn’t a regular part of any productive adult’s life.
Even though it’s summer, our regular wake-up call has only been pushed back by a half-an-hour and a decent bedtime is still enforced. Everyone still enjoys a full eight hours and nobody sleeps the day away.
Fun first, then play? Really?
We’ve adjusted our schedule so that the kids aren’t helping around the house during the cooler hours of the day and then refusing to go out to play when it the temperature climbs, thus spending the whole day inside the house.
Instead, we eat breakfast and then play outside or exercise, which for kids is one in the same.
When it gets hotter outside, that’s when we do chores inside. As it begins to cool off later in the day, the chores are finished and everyone can do as the please. It may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but it’s worked for us.
Let them know what is expected and what they can expect
When Secret Agent Man decodes sensitive documents or protects State secrets, he gets a pay check.
I want my kids understand that if want something , just like dad, they have to earn it.
On a daily basis, my kids know it’s their job to take care of the pets, unload the dishwasher, set the table, and maintain the cleanliness of their bedrooms and bathroom. On top of that, each day I give them a list of other things to do around the house.
Just like a real job, the completion of everything that is expected is met with a payment. Sometimes it’s money or trips to the pool, or extra time to play video games or watch TV.
It would be easier to let them be free-range children over the summer and do whatever they feel like doing, after all, “they’re just kids.” But, then how will they ever learn the value of time, self-reliance, and how to be an asset, instead of a liability?
I think it’s worth the extra effort especially if it will help avoid more couch haircuts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best Bachelorette Recap on the net

I couldn't have written it better myself. So I didn't, Amanda of "It's Blogworthy" did. Comedy gold right there my friends. Clickety here to read the Bachelorette bloggy goodness.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blogging `bout The Bachelorette

I love summer tv. A new installement of the Bachelor franchise of shows is one of the reasons. I have yet to be real excited about this season though. The other Bachelorettes seemed genuinely heart-broken after their seasons and eager for another chance at love. I have the feeling that Ali got exactly what she wanted out of her time with Jake...her own show.

Well, I think you get what you give and her bachelors all seem to be gunning for second place. Can you blame them? Three to six months of a fake engagement or your own show? Hmmm. Not that tough of a choice.

Tonight's episode featured front-runner for his own show, Frank. Frank lives with his folks, runs a retail store, probably A.E., and looks better with his glasses. Ali and Frank went from zero to ninety before the first commercial break. Ever heard of taking things slow? No time for that in make believe tv land.

Then there was confrontation between the weatherman, Jonathan, a.k.a. The Mouse and Craig, The Weasel. The mouse isn't just any mouse. He is a marginally-adorable mouse that has a cane and a hat and sometimes says clever things, sometimes. But, mostly he sounds scared to death of the Weasel.
The Weasel is evil. The kind of evil that he must practice at being that evil. Perhaps he stays awake at night planning how evil he can be or perhaps evil justs comes to him naturally.
The Weasel also looks a lot like Tori Spelling's husband, Dean. Who is also a weasel. Remember the whole cheated on his wife and two kids with Tori, while she was also married? I do, obviously. Not only do they look alike and share some weaselly tendencies, but they are also both from Canada. No disrespect to my Canadian friends. I'll say it before and I'll say it again, I've never met a Canadian I didn't like. I'm just pointing out their similar origins.

Ali dismissed her weasel after the mouse told her that he was "dangerous." But my question is,
"Who is more dangerous? The weasel that you can see coming, or the weasel that sneaks up on you?"

Apparently, Ali thought the weasel she could see coming, but I am sure their are more stealth-like weasels that will emerge as the summer weeks roll on.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

¡Ay Chihuahua! Making room for new family pet

As seen in the Home and Garden section of The Daily Sentinel, May29, 2010

I broke one of the cardinal rules of marriage. Don’t get a new pet while your spouse it out of town.
But this little Chihuahua-Mini Pincher literally walked right into my life.
I was at a friend’s house checking out the Taj Majal of playhouses they had just erected in their backyard, when in through the open gate walked this little doggie. She looked friendly, but nervous as most Chihuahuas do.
My friend didn’t want a thing to do with it because dogs give her the sneezes. So I scooped it up and did a quick casing of the neighborhood to see if I could find the owner.
When that effort became fruitless, I took it back to my house and called the number for animal services on its license.
The time it took to track down the owner was short, but it was enough time for the kids and I to already feel a little attached to it. Its big, helpless, dark eyes had me at “hello.”
Mini Me accompanied me on our trip back to the owner’s. Apparently, it hadn’t been on the lamb for long, the owner said it had just eaten dinner and must have squeezed through the fence. Then she told me that she was actually just caring for the dog for a friend until she could find it a good home. Then she said, “Do you want it?”
Mini Me and I chimed in unison, “Yes!”
No sooner did the reply come out of my mouth did I realize that Secret Agent Man wasn’t going to be too keen on this. But you know the old adage, “Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission.”
The doggie’s caretaker told me that “Suzi” is already house-trained, spayed, and vaccinated. She also came with food, toys, a bed, a kennel, and clothes.
The kids and I kept the new addition to our family a secret from Secret Agent Man until he came home the next night.
When we picked him up the airport with Suzi in tow, the first thing he said was, “Whose dog is this?”
The kids intoned, “It’s ours!”
“No really,” he said, “who does it belong to?”
And so the love story began. We’ve had little Suzi for over two weeks now and she has adjusted well to Secret Agent Man, the kids, and our other dog. But she still needs to make nice with the Dyson. In time I’m sure they’ll get along too.

Tips from on how to acclimate your new pet to its new life and home
As soon as you get it home, return your pet to its daily feeding and exercise schedule. Place their bed and bowls in similar location to their former home, while they acclimate to their new space.
When introducing your pet to new humans, place the animal in a sit/stay position and ask the human allow your dog to sniff them prior to being petted. Ask them to avoid direct eye contact and speak in a positive, pleasant voice when addressing the dog. If possible, have them reward the animal with its favorite treat.
If your pet is having a problem barking/meowing excessively, confine your pet to a crate or room. The bedroom is usually best and will be most comforting to the animal.
Take a few days off work to pay extra attention to your pet. It will adjust more quickly and feel comfortable in its new home.
Allow your pet to exercise and eliminate before you leave home. Create a soothing atmosphere. Dim the lights, put on soft music and leave out your pet's favorite toy. Never make a big deal about going out.
Call an animal behavior specialist if your pet seems to be having a problem adjusting to their new home or engages in destructive behavior.

Paynes on a roll

Click the pic to biggify the pithy captions.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Picture Perfect: A master photographer's tips for displaying your captured memories

As seen in May 15th's edition of the Home & Garden section of The Daily Sentinel

Picture Perfect: A Master Photographer’s tips for displaying your captured memories

My walls are too bare. At least that’s what my older sister told me. The same sentiment was echoed by my feng shui practitioner, and then confirmed by my good friend and master photographer, (That is her job title. She has a masters in photography.) Kelli McCall.

Even after living in my current home for six years, it still pains me to put any nails, screws, or hooks in the walls. It feels like I am putting a hole in my very own soul. But when three ladies, whose opinion I value, all told me the same thing, if figured they had to be right.

So I asked Kelli to give me her advice on how to get my family pictures out of the drawer and on to the walls where they belong. She took me on a field trip to her mom’s house to show me some of the photographs that she has taken over the years for her mom and how they have displayed them in interesting ways.

Here is Kelli’s advice:

When choosing the perfect frame, keep in mind that the frame molding generally should not be wider than the main subject in the picture. For example, if the subject’s head is two inches wide the frame should be no wider than two inches. This will ensure that the portrait will be what you focus on and not the frame.

Wall Placement
The portraits on your wall should hang at standing eye level. This will allow people to enjoy them without straining to see them.

If displaying more than one picture, display an odd number of pictures to create an art piece. Then group them in ways that tell a story or share a similar theme, like senior pictures or baby’s first Easter. Don’t hang dad’s fishing pictures, next to grandma’s wedding photo.

Choosing Clothing
If a wall portrait is what you have in mind, first consider where you want hang it or display it in your home. Then choose your outfit for the photo shoot according to the color scheme of that space. Remember that the people are more important than the outfit, so dress in solid colors so the focus will go to the faces instead of clothing.

Walls aren’t the only place for photographs
Coffee tables and shelves are perfect display points for smaller photographs. Make your groupings interesting by adding other decorative items like, candles, plants, and figurines, still keeping in mind the rule of odd numbers.

Matting, the frame within a frame
Matting your photographs can do a lot to enhance the look of the picture. Choose a mat color from a color in the photograph that will compliment the picture.
When you want to fill a larger space, mat your print up a size. For instance, if you have a 5x7 photograph, choose an 8X10 mat and frame.

Let them know they are loved
Did you know that displaying pictures of your children increases their self esteem? A child who sees himself in a wall portrait will undoubtedly know how much they mean to you. The most precious and unique artwork you could ever find is a portrait of those you love. Capture those moments that will tug at your heart and display them as artwork. What better décor for your home than portraits that are personal and unique.

Armed with some great advice and inspiration, my walls will be less bare and have more flare. It may mean that I have a few more holes in my "soul,” but at least they will be nicely covered by pictures of my favorite people and memories.

To find out more about master photographer, Kelli McCall, and her services check out her website

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where did May 11th go?

It's not over yet, but it's nearly over.
I can't remember what I've done.
It started early, that much I remember.
I made two breakfasts. Pancakes for Secret Agent Man and the kids.
Eggs and bacon for me.
I've changed my status on Facebook a couple times.
Washed and coiffed my hair.
Couldn't decide what to wear because Spring is having an identity crisis.
Took Secret Agent Man to the airport. Where he goes? Nobody knows.
Had something with bacon in it for lunch, the new Taco Bell Tortada.
"That stuff is not food!" Can it, Jillian! I don't want to hear it.
I wore a hoodie.
If you left a black hoodie at my house. I have worn it to paint trim on my friend's house
and now I've worn it to tie-dye shirts with 5th graders.
I don't think you are going to want it back.
Things I am looking forward to for the rest of the day:
Pajamas and
American Idol.

Click here to read a blog post that actually took some thought and effort.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One table, One Family: Passionate about Family Dinners

Click here to read my latest column at
"...even on the occasional night when we have pizza delivered, I still lure my family from the four corners of the house to share a meal at the kitchen table."

Monday, May 3, 2010

To whom it may concern

I received a very nice e-mail the other day from a woman in Montrose. She wrote to compliment me on my column and to encourage me to continue on. I just had three years of e-mail mysteriously disappear from my inbox, so I didn't get a chance to write back and say "thank you." So, dear reader, lovely lady from Montrose, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I don't get a lot of feedback, so when it comes, it is greatly appreciated.


Your friendly neighborhood columnist

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Upcoming American Idol Theme Night: Idols sing with the Muppets

You can't tell me that you wouldn't tune in to watch that.

And as an extra special treat...Beaker will cohost with Ryan!
Television Gold right there, my friends.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Idol, Whooz ur daddy?!" Season 9 Siobhan Magnus

El Macheen es en fuego!
The resemblance is undeniable to say the very least. The hair, the accessories, the ability to unhook their bottom jaw to hit the money note. Not only that, but if you scramble the letters in "Sanjaya" and "Sheena Easton" it spells "Siobhan Magnus!" Incredible.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I never get tired of being right.

I awoke this morning with the urge to take my family on a hike; back to one of our favorite trails that has gone neglected during the cold winter months. It was not easy convincing my kids to leave the comfort of their pajamas, overflowing bowls of cereal, and tight schedule of cartoons and video games, for a morning of fresh air and physical exertion. I explained to them that we needed to go now, while the snow is melting. There would be a stream of run-off flowing right down the middle of our trail and they would love to see it. Unmoved by my glowing endorsement, I finally said,
"Listen, I do a lot of stuff for you that I don't want to do, so you are going to do this for me even though you don't want to. That's how we show our love for each other," delivered with "crazy mom" eyes and flared nostrils, it could not be challenged nor denied.
Mere minutes later as we are reaching the top of the hike, the boys could hear the water running. They were so excited they started running. "Mom, Mom can you hear that?! It's the water, Mom." Yes, babies, I know.
As you can see from the pics, a good time was had by all. I never get tired of being right.

Friday, March 26, 2010

American Idol's, "Battle of the Borrowed Jackets."

And the winner is... Brian Fellow's

"That hippo is crazy."

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!"

...but we earned them anyway. My boys were awarded their Webelo badges last night. Their Arrow of Light is just some First Aid and a couple of camp-outs away. I'm a proud den mother.

Before my boys were born, I didn't think about what it would be like to be a mother to boys. But after three years of cub scouting, managing a soccer team, coaching a basketball team, and more conversations about Pokem*n, Digim*n, and Bakug*n than I would care to have...I can tell you that being a mother to boys is wonderful. I cry on my keyboard thinking about how proud I am of them. As they inch closer and closer to being taller than me, I grow in respect and awe of the kind of young men they are becoming.

A brownie badge for anyone who can tell me where the title quote comes from.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Feelin' Lucky

I'm feeling lucky that the Catholics don't mind sharing their holidays with the rest of the world. They're givers.
I'm feeling lucky that my pink and green argyle sweater still fits and is even a little big.
I'm feeling lucky that I am wearing flipflops for the first time this year and my toenails have a little bit of sparkle.
I'm feeling lucky that I have a sweet neighbor that sends me flowers.
I'm feeling lucky that I have a wonderful friend that sends me funny cards. You know who you are and I love ya lots.
I'm feeling lucky that Secret Agent Man turned his nose up at my green eggs and ham and I didn't hafta share.

Monday, March 15, 2010

An open letter to Cold Stone Creamery

UPDATE: I just received confirmation from my Stat Counting services that Cold Stone Creamery in Scotsdale, AZ has read my open letter. If you start seeing more tables and chairs, you have me to thank. I'll accept gift certificates.

Dear Cold Stone,

Get more seating.

For Realsies,


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Put on these stinky shoes and put your fingers in these holes where other peoples fingers have been.

I can't stand bowling, but I love my kids. So, when Mini Me asked if we could go bowling for her birthday, I put on my big girl pants and went. It may look like I am having a good time in the pictures, but I'm not. I'm just good a faking it.
After bowling we went to Coldstone Creamery. My complaint about this place is that they don't have enough seating for you to sit down and enjoy the ice cream you patiently waited in line for and then spent what you would pay for 3 Blizzards to get. I was more than halfway finished when I we finally got to sit down so close to the table next to us that I could smell the malodorousness of the patron next to me. Ahhh..nothing like the combo of sweat and strawberries and an exciting game of booowling.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Celebrating 4 years and 2 days of blogging without obligation

My four year blogiversary came and went without me noticing. Darn you, Facebook!

I just went back and read some of my posts from the Hot Fruita Mom days. For those of you who have been a follower since then, I am sorry to have wasted your time.

Two blogger parties, a handful of meet-and-greets, and a Home and Garden column later, my blogging habits have changed. I post less, I comment less. Again, darn you Facebook!

I don't know how much longer blogging will be a part of my life. I have trails to hike and laundry to fold and parties to plan. Sometimes I feel like sharing my exploits and sometimes I don't.
If I make it to year five, we will just have to see.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stupid wives and the husbands that deceive them

My B.S. Meter overheated when I saw this sorry couple on Oprah. I think they are both liars that were seduced by money and power and when it all got flushed down the proverbial crapper, they decided to cash-in by writing a tell-all. They are not guiltless, they are not victims. They are vipers, plain and simple. And they gross me out. Don't buy their book.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Idol, Whooz Ur Daddy?! Season 9 Haeley Vaughn

I certainly hope Haeley doesn't go home tonight. But just in case, I thought I'd run her through The Macheen. It looks like The Macheen was kind. What an awesome honor to have the possible parentage of Miss Niecy "Clean House" Nash and the cre-a-tor of the most popular tag line of the 1970s.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who does what in your house?

His, Hers, and Ours

Who does what in your house?
Thirteen years ago tomorrow, on a beautiful warm day in San Diego, Secret Agent Man and I, joined our lives together as husband and wife.

Every day since, we have marched lock-step together on our journey through life, work, home, and family.

Before we were married we talked about the kind of life we wanted together. He knew my life’s ambition was to be a wife and mother. I wanted to take full responsibility for the proper care and feeding of him and our children and the upkeep our home. That was our understanding and that was our plan. Then…the twins were born.

What I assumed would be a one woman show turned into a tag team effort to keep our baby boys fed, diapered, burped, and bathed.

By the time our daughter, “Mini Me” came along, Secret Agent Man and I settled into our traditional roles of provider and homemaker. He brought home the bacon and I fried it up in a pan.

Being a single-income family is not easy. We’ve had to make sacrifices and endure lean times in order for me to be at home.

Between the travel, intrigue, and third world dictator toppling, Secret Agent Man works long hours. I never complain. I consider it a blessing to have a husband that loves to work. I like going out to dinner, I like buying a new pair a shoes, and I’m not going to complain about how he provides those things for me.

I try to make it easy for him to do his job by doing mine. I’ve taken cues from my hero, Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,

"I think the best thing I can do is to be a distraction. A husband lives and breathes his work all day long. If he comes home to more table thumping, how can the poor man ever relax?"

We have a clear understanding of what each of us will do around the house. He doesn’t know how to start the washing machine and I don’t know how to start the lawnmower and that’s the way we like it.

No matter what your situation is everyone who lives in the house needs to have responsibilities for its upkeep.

In a family where both the mom and dad are winning the bread, there needs to be equity in the household responsibilities.

Some of the working moms I know will do the cooking and shopping, while dad and kids do the cleaning and laundry.

Kid’s responsibilities could include: feeding the pets, cleaning their own rooms and bathrooms, and helping with the dishes.

At our house, everyone pitches in and cleans the kitchen after dinner. It’s a wonderful change from the time when I would make dinner; the family would take 15 minutes to snarf it down and then disperse to their different corners of the house. Now we are together more, the kitchen is cleaned quickly and the family has learned to appreciate me more.

Even the tiniest member of the family can help out. If a baby is old enough to dump out their toys, they are old enough to pick them up and put them back. It would be easier for mom to just pick up the toys herself, but teaching your children life-long habits of tidiness is worth the time and effort and they’ll be better husbands and wives for it.

If you are having trouble getting everyone to help out around the house, sometimes it’s just a matter asking for more help and making your expectations known. Chore charts, honey-do lists, and scheduled time for cleaning can help get everyone on the same page. Don’t forget to celebrate and relax together for a job well done.

Perhaps skip Hamburger Helper Night and go out to dinner, if you see us, don’t forget to wish us a Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Idol, Whooz Ur Daddy?! Season 9 Lilly Scott

The Macheen is back in action for Season 9 of American Idol. This is the macheen that analyzes the contestants DNA to reveal their possible parentage. If you don't agree, don't be mad at me, The Macheen never lies. It has no reason to. Being analyzed by The Macheen is a great honor and part of the American Idol experience.

I think The Macheen was fair to Lilly Scott, fellow Coloradoan. There are worse things than having a super model and an albino as parents. She could be strapped to another macheen down in the Pit of Despair.