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Movember Guest Post Part I: The Daddy Complex

Note: This guest post is the first in a series, highlighting Dad bloggers rocking the Movember Campaign against prostate & testicular cancer. Enjoy!

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Mustaches have a bad rap. Something about the smarminess of ‘70s facial hair spilled into the ridiculousness of the ‘80s. And really, nothing survived the ‘80s unscathed. Even David Bowie’s catalog. The death knell of a stylish sandwich duster was rung on a synthesizer. But, like my roller skates and cassette Walkman, I’m bringing the mustache back. And with it, I hope to help defeat cancer… Did I lose you? Let me explain.

Each November, thousands of men grow mustaches of varyingly embarrassing forms to help raise awareness of men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. The movement and organization is called Movember. As participants’ stubble limps toward credible mustache length, they urge their friends, family and coworkers to donate in the name of their facial hair. It’s all in good fun until the end of Movember when there seems to be an annual spike in accidents involving log splitting and premature pistol discharges at high noon.

Last year, I grew a nice semi-handlebar and raised a sizable amount of money as part of a Movember team of dad bloggers. I’m on the same team again this year and I’m thinking of going for something in the Wyatt Earp style, though knowing my growth rate, it’ll probably end more of the in the range of High School Science Teacher.

Of course, the terrible truth is that everyone knows someone affected by cancer. Just this year alone, my wife and I have seen two friends go through the steps of battling the disease. And through my parenting blog, The Daddy Complex, I’ve witnessed still others—mothers and fathers—begin their battles.

When I solicit donations for my Movember drive on my blog, I tend to speak of cancer as if it were a sniveling villain in a teen sex comedy, the kind of character you enjoy seeing fail. I speak of giving the disease a purple nurple or spiking its punch with laxatives. I also pair my posts with photos of dashing men who bravely sported a mustache, people like Burt Reynolds and Teddy Roosevelt. And yes, I’m quite aware I just mentioned the 26th president of the United States and the Bandit in the same sentence.

I personify cancer and then belittle it. It’s absurd, I know. So is growing a mustache in the name of cancer research. Yet, that absurdity takes away some of the pain, some of the fear, some of the sorrow. I’ll never invent the cure for cancer. I was an English major, after all. But, I can grow a pretty awesome mustache. And thanks to Movember, that helps.

David Vienna is the proud father of awesome twin boys Wyatt & Boone. Peek in on the Vienna family & David’s witty take on parenting at The Daddy Complex, or visit http://mobro.co/thedaddycomplex to make a donation to David’s team in the Movember fight against cancer.

Benefits of Moroccan (Argan) Oil

[source: www.deal.informer.com]

It’s only November and we’re already beginning to feel the wrath of Winter (well most of us). Not only does Winter bring dry skin, it also gifts us with dry, brittle hair. Yay! Even for those of you in warmer climates, you may want to stick around because we have a treat for you; it’s called Moroccan Oil (or Argan oil, whichever floats your boat). I’m sure many of you have heard of it but are not too sure of the benefits or whether it’s actually worth spending money on. The good news about moroccan oil is that it’s suitable for all hair types. It won’t leave any residue or greasy buildup, and provides a great deal of benefits.

Moisturizes Hair and Reduces Frizz
One of the main benefits of argan oil is its moisturizing powers (yes I said powers). Some find its hydrating benefits comparable to that of coconut oil or olive oil, which are both often recommended for dry hair. Argan oil is especially beneficial for women with naturally dry or coarse hair, color-treated hair, and African-American hair types.

Moroccan oil is an excellent frizz and breakage reducer, making it perfect for women who frequently use flat irons, curling irons, rollers, and blow dryers during their daily hair routine. In fact, many hair stylists recommend using argan oil during the hairstyling process because it makes the hair easier to manage. This can be a great way to reduce heat damage.

Increases Shine
Morocaan oil is known to leave the hair looking shiny. Instead of turning to hairspray which can lead to product buildup after frequent use, consider spraying on Moroccan hair oil after you have finished styling your hair. Not only will hair look beautiful and shiny, but it will also feel very soft due to the added moisture!

Offers Healthy Vitamins and UV Ray Protection
Another great benefit of moroccan Oil, is that it offers vitamins and nutrients making hair stronger and healthier. Vitamin E, Vitamin F, and phenols are some of the nutrients which are found in moroccan oil. In addition, moroccan oil offers UV ray protection, making it a great product to pack for beach trips. 

Products Worth Trying:
Organix Moroccan Oil Hair Mask- $8.99 (most drugstores)
Organix Moroccan Penetrating Oil- $7.99 (most drugstores)

Organix has great shampoos and conditioners as well!

How to Create the Perfect Plant Vase


A green plant can spruce up any space - the living room coffee table, the office, even a bookshelf.  Arranging a plant is an art in itself.  There is so much room for creativity.   One of our favorite ways to spruce up a green plant is with marbles and stones.  Check out this easy, elegant and beautiful arrangement below.



You’ll Need:

  • Plant of your choice - be sure to ask your local florist about which plants need to be kept in soil and which can be sustained with just water
  • Clear glass vase in any shape - we used a rectangular one here
  • Small marbles and stones - marbles can be purchased at your local store and we found some small stones in our backyard which we rinsed thoroughly with water


Step-by-Step:

  1. Be sure to trim down your plant if it’s too tall for your vase.
  2. Clean out the vase and fill the base with a layer of rocks and marbles.
  3. Add the stalks of plants and hold them into place. With your other hand, begin to layer on more rocks and marbles.  Keep layering until you have about an inch left at the top.
  4. Carefully arrange the plant so that it looks the way you want it to.
  5. Slowly fill the vase with water (be sure to use filtered water, chlorine from the tap may be harmful to your plant).

Hurricane Sandy: Lessons Learned

1. Keep your phone batteries charged.

2. Be nice to your neighbors, you never know when you might need their shower.

3. Small bills, gum, fresh water and working electrical outlets are great bartering tools.

4. Keep your medicine cabinet stocked, prescriptions & GAS TANKS full.

5. Bare cupboards are so ‘90’s – keep dry goods and shelf-stable snacks on-hand.

6. When your local Starbucks is overflowing, try the bar down the street: the outlets are plentiful and the patrons in good humor.

7. Cleaning up your street with neighbors after a disaster can reveal unexpected commonalities: “you’re a die-hard Yankees fan, too!?

8. The generosity of the human spirit IS still intact, as our clothing donations were happily turned away by centers that had more donated goods than they could handle.

9.  Donating to the American Red Cross is as easy as texting REDCROSS to 90999.

10. Mother Nature doesn’t mess around: conservative, liberal, urban or rural…none of us is exempt. Let’s take care of each other whenever we can.

(photo: mashable.com)

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Having guests over?  Try this easy appetizer dish that only takes minutes to make. Smoky, salty bacon combined with the crunch of asparagus makes the perfect combo for this quick 15 minute appetizer.

You’ll Need:

  • 10 asparagus spears - rinsed, trimmed
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 bacon strips - halved, lengthwise

Step-by-Step:

  1. Lay out asparagus on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper.
  2. Wrap a strip of bacon from the top of the asparagus to the bottom.
  3. Place cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes (or until bacon is crispy).

November: Our Top 10 Favorite Things

  1. Impending holiday festivities
  2. An extra hour of darkness to cozy up
  3. Family, food and frivolity
  4. Cold temperatures
  5. Ice-skating
  6. Sweaters, boots & scarves
  7. The crunch of fallen leaves
  8. Movies: let the Oscar nominees roll!
  9. NBA Basketball
  10. The vibe: happiness and gratitude abounds…

(photo: http://parenting.slides.kaboose.com)

Happy Halloween! Our Fave Kiddie Costumes

Happy Halloween Totsy fans! We’ve picked our top 5 favorite kiddies costumes from Pinterest! These cute and creative costumes are giving us a headstart for next year. Enjoy and have a happy and safe Halloween!

5) Wall-E

4) Mario and Yoshi

3) Adorable hobo

2) Carl and little Russell from the movie Up

1) Our #1 fav: Mini Dwight from The Office

Tell us, what did you kiddies dress up as this Halloween? 

Halloween for Procrastinators 101

[Source: http://bluerosegold.blogspot.com]

You said you weren’t going to dress up this year. You said the kids will be able to get a costume the day before. You said you’ll get all the candy a few days before. You said not to worry, you have it under control! Dun dun dun…Party city has been cleaned of the best costumes.  Other stores have already moved onto Thanksgiving and Christmas! Have no fear, Totsy is here! We’ve compiled a list of the easiest costumes, decorations, and treats to put together for all you last minute movers and shakers! Halloween for Procrastinators 101 is now in session!

Last Minute Costumes for the Family

  • Plastic laundry basket with holes cut out for legs + white balloons + a shower cap = Bathing Beauty (add in a scrub brush or bath sponge to accessorize)
  • White dress + a pipe-cleaner halo + leaves in her hair and “dirt” on her face = Fallen Angel
  • Blue T-shirt + cotton balls + tape + a water gun = Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Rain
  • Black jeans (or tights) + white hoodie + glued cotton balls + ears = A cute Lamb
  • Clear umbrella + party streamers or metallic ribbons = Jellyfish
  • Pajamas + thermometer + ice pack + pillow = Sick and Tired
  • Green (or purple) balloons + tape= a bunch of grapes
  • All black= “Men in Black”, “Blues Brothers”, “Abraham Lincoln (add a beard)”

Last Minute House Decorations

  • Blow up a bunch of orange balloons and draw Jack-O-Lantern faces with a permanent marker
  • Draw a template of a cat on black construction paper, make a cutout, and tape it around the house
  • Cut out large silhouettes of creepy figures out of black poster board to place in your windows. 
  • Make some mushy pasta by boiling some spaghetti noodles, and placing them in a big serving bowl with grass and dirt from your front lawn for an icky, wormy effect to fake-offer trick-or-treaters. Or throw in some eyeballs with fake blood for a gruesome effect.

Last Minute Treats

  • Toss together equal amounts candy corn, pretzels, peanuts and corn chips or make up your own concoction of goodies (mmmm chocolate) and throw in plastic snack bags, add a festive ribbon and you’re good to go!
  • Dip pretzels in food colored white chocolate and decorate with Halloween sprinkles
  • Make Halloween rise Krispie treats by adding candy corn, chocolate, crushed bark and any other of your favorite treats to the mix
  • Last minute candy run? You’re in luck! Usually stores will begin marking down candy the day before Halloween to make room for Christmas treats
  • Hand out mini bags of chips or other snacks as an alternative to candy
  • Cute Halloween stationary such as decorative pens or pencils are another alternative, easily found at dollar/discounted stores.

Have a Happy (and safe) Halloween!

Totsy’s Top 5 Halloween Pins

Halloween is nearly here and of course we turn to Pinterest for inspiration on costume ideas, crafts, recipes and so much more!  After some thorough browsing, we rounded up our favorite top 5 across Pinterest! Check them out below.

Favorite carved pumpkin:

Favorite deviled eggs:

Favorite Halloween decoration:

Favorite tablescape

Favorite Halloween costume: 

What are some of you favorite Halloween pins?  Share them with us in the comments below!

In my search to whip up a festive Halloween treat, I couldn’t get my pregnant self past the rare opportunity (read: excuse) to make chocolate cupcakes. So to assuage my guilt and add an health twist, I opted for gluten-free; and to incorporate the Harvest Halloween season, what else but pumpkin?! (Turns out chocolate & pumpkin is a ridiculously delicious flavor combination…)

The rich and moist texture of the pumpkin puree is more noticeable in this recipe than the pumpkin flavor, but I think it balanced the dark chocolate perfectly. And the cream cheese frosting? Just right. Have fun decorating these sweet goodies and let us know how they turn out in the comments below!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 2 eggs (reduced from 3 to accommodate the pumpkin)
  • 6 tbsp butter (reduced from 8 to accommodate the pumpkin)
  • ½ can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 container cream cheese frosting (also gluten-free!)
Directions:
  1. Follow directions on box, but reduce the amounts as shown above to accommodate for the extra moisture in the pumpkin.
  2. Frost, decorate, & enjoy!

Awesome Halloween Crafting Ideas

The weather is cold, and Halloween is around the corner. It’s the perfect time to bust out the art table and wrangle your kids into some spook-tastic crafting projects.

(photo: vitaminihandmade.blogspot.com)

We rounded up a few of our favorite creative ideas for 2012 to provide you and your family with some inspiration.Now grab some hot cocoa, put on the tunes and get crafty!

(photo: http://jennicanknit.blogspot.com)

Staying Warm (but cute!) on Halloween

[Image Source: smartmompicks.com]

We plan our costumes weeks and weeks in advance, but tend to leave out one minor detail, staying warm! You’ve just spent all this money on costumes for the entire family and it would be shame to cover them up while trick or treating. Whether you spend the night going to a creepy Halloween party or out trick-or-treating with your children,it is essential that you stay warm, considering it is the end of October.I mean you do want to look BOO-tiful!

The problem? Many people purchase costumes for themselves or their children and do not want to compromise the outfit by putting a heavy coat over it. So hide it (not the coat that is)! The key? Layer clothing underneath your costume. Inexpensive thermals can be purchased at Target, Walmart, etc.. For instance, if you or your kids are wearing a costume with long sleeves, a wool shirt is perfect underneath.

Remember long johns? Now is the perfect time to break them out. Long johns are perfect for full body costumes. If the costume goes over the head and covers the face, wear a knitted cap underneath.

The key to having a spooky fun Halloween is to be comfortable and warm. If you’re walking around outside while freezing because of thin costume material, there is a good chance that you won’t get the most out of the holiday.

Just a few tips:

  • Order your child’s costume a size or two bigger so that can put a pair of sweats underneath without changing the way the costume looks!
  • For women’s costumes with short skirts, leggings can add to the look and keep you warm.
  • Knee high or thigh high boots especially ones made of vinyl are great to keep your legs warm.
  • If you have under armour or anything else that adds another “layer of skin”, throw it on underneath. It’ll put the workout gear sitting at the bottom of your drawer to good use.
  • When shopping for costumes, you may also want to look for something that has thicker material or a coat or vest that can go over the outfit without compromising its creepy or cute look.
  • When trick-or-treating with little ones, try to head out when it is still light out, as it won’t be as cold.
  • Incorporate warm street clothes into your costume. Get creative and choose a costume that will allow you to wear regular clothes and still look as though you’re in costume.

More importantly, BE SAFE

Happy Halloween!

How To: Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt

If you and your family are not big on trick-or-treating or Halloween, try this fun, easy and seasonal frozen yogurt recipe for a healthier alternative to ice cream. Spend a night in a whip up this delicious dessert.

 

Serves: 3-4

You’ll Need:

  • 3-4 cups Greek non-fat yogurt, strained
  • 1-2 cups pumpkin puree
  • Agave nectar –  squeeze until you reached desired sweetness
  • Pumpkin pie spice – add until you reach desired taste
  • Large flat dish

Step-by-Step:

  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
  2. Place the bowl in the freezer and stir every half hour until it reaches the desired consistency.

Enjoy with a scary movie! 

Tell us, what are some of your favorite fall treats? 

Safety First: Trick-or-Treating

[Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moaan/]

Halloween is right around the corner! We bet the kids cannot wait to get on their costumes and trick-or-treat around the neighborhood as ghouls, ghosts and more. But no matter how old your kids are (or even you), it’s always important to be safe. Here are a few tips for having a safe Halloween trick-or-treating experience.

  • Always have kids have a flashlight and wear something knit – be it glow in the dark laces, glow sticks, even light-up shoes so they can always be seen.
  • Plan the route in advance
  • Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods
  • Only stop at lit houses – not dark ones
  • Always trick-or-treat in a group and with an adult
  • Carry a spare Halloween bag in case yours break
  • Wear ID that’s easy to read
  • Watch out for open flame Jack O Lanterns
  • Always watch out for cars backing up or turning
  • Don’t eat candy that hasn’t been inspected
  • Avoid candy in loose wrappings or is homemade
  • Say “no” to strangers
  • Respect other people’s property
  • Make sure children costumes do not drag on the floor. Shorter = safer

If you have any tips, please share with us in the comments below! 

Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Dine with Diana: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Today started with an early morning work call.  There I sat in the lounge of my daughter’s school, post-drop off, with laptop and headset ready to go.

Like most calls, we started with introductions and pleasantries and the woman on the other end, well, let’s just say I could tell I was going to really like her.

Right off the bat, she hit me with this:

“Oh, I’m great this morning. I’ve already had my coffee and my chocolate chip pumpkin bread!” 

Hmm, did she just say pumpkin bread WITH chocolate chips?

“That sounds amazing, do you think I could get your recipe? I am actually writing a recipe blog post today and that sounds perfect.”

Turns out, you don’t need a recipe. I mean you can, if you’re the baking sort and like making it from scratch. In which case you just use your fave recipe.

I prefer to use a mix like the one from Williams-Sonoma. Just add eggs and butter and you’re done!

But, according to the lady on my work call this morning, all you do is add chocolate chips to your favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

Of course, I asked how much to add. A cup, half a cup?

Then, I knew I was making a friend for life when her answer was:

“Well, I guess you could measure your chocolate chips, but I prefer to just dump a whole bag in!”

She didn’t have me at “Hello” but she certainly had me at “dump the whole bag in.” 

I love life and am loving my new recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin bread!

Thank you, work-call lady

Xo,

Diana

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • Either your fave pumpkin bread recipe OR
  • My favorite- Williams-Sonoma Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix
  • Toll House Morsels, Semi-Sweet - 12 oz

Directions:

  • Prepare your mix as instructed on the box or your favorite recipe as usual.
  • Pour in a full bag of Toll House Semi-Sweet morsels and mix.
  • Bake as instructed, cool and enjoy! 

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