Five Minute Halloween Crafting – Corn Critters

Hold on to your corn husks! While you’re finishing off the last of the summer corn on the cob, save the husks for the Todd’s most clever new Halloween delight- Corn Critters. Our eight-year-old Zoe and the Todd show you how.


Five Minute Halloween Crafting – Corn Critters

You’ll need:

  • A glue gun
  • Craft “googly eyes”
  • Corn husks, spread flat with leaves radiating out to dry in the sun.

Admittedly, Zoe was more interested in eating the corn, but she gave her father the thumbs-up, so that’s participation. Sort of.

After mere minutes of easy crafting (and in my case, hot glue gun burns) viola! Your most clever new Halloween/Harvest decor – Corn Critters!

Looking for more ideas? Make a pretty paper medallion wreath for Halloween or Day of the Dead, instructions here. Of, creating magic wands that are totally Harry Potter worthy, click here.

Please Come To The Period Party! Wait, What?

Please Come To The Period Party! Wait, What?


So, I got this in the mail the other day.

At first, I figured my girlie was pranking me. I mean, Janet is your standard working Mom of many. The kids are all in stuff like soccer and gymnastics. She belongs to the Junior League. We organize fundraisers together. I seized my phone.

“Hey, girl. Just got your invitation.”

“Oh, good! Can you and Zoe make it?”

“Um, what exactly is this?”

Pause. “A PERIOD party, silly!  To celebrate Emily Anne’s first menstruation.”

“I know I’ve been out of the girl loop with just having the twins for so long, but the period party thing.  Is this… done a lot?  Is this a thing?”

Impatient sigh. “Erin, you’re not going to be all immature about this, are you? Menarche is a crucial developmental step in a young woman’s life. She deserves to have her community gather round her and celebrate her fertility.”

I fought to swallow down a frantic giggle. “Where’s the gift registry?”

Janet hung up on me and I went over with pie to soothe her feelings. And she gave me permission to write about this because she knows I’m stupid and that you’ll agree with her.

So… this is a thing? We do this, now?


(image credit: Maxpixel)

“Please come to the Period Party!”

Anyone who’s been to Burning Man with me has already hung out with the “Goddess Girls.” They weave their own skirts and then they don’t wear them because they’re dancing nude under the full moon. Those girls? Oh, yes. They’re already on it. In fact, they engaged me in a discussion once about “syncing up” all the cycles of everyone in the house to “flow” at the same time. I have three sisters. That would have been Armageddon. I can hear the clip-clopping of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse just thinking about it.

But I guess I just never saw this coming into the mainstream. And the whole thing is fraught with confusion. Who do you invite to your little girl’s Menarche? Her gym class? Uncle Steve? Grandpa?

Look, I know a girl’s first menstruation is an important developmental step. And when it was my turn my Mom was great with a calm and matter of fact explanation of what was to come in my developing body. Then she threw me a box of feminine hygiene products. “Have at it, honey. Let me know if you have questions.” I was good. But if Mary Helen had tried to throw me a “Period Party” and I showed up to a house full of friends and relatives and a big cake, I would have walked back out the door and planted myself in the middle of I-15 at rush hour with the hope it would be over quickly.


Anyway, I’m going. And I’m taking Zoe. This will raise questions from my daughter about what “That is?” and I’ll answer them. But I’m secretly longing for the old days when I just had to find something in the Unicorn Poop toy aisle. Because I still can’t get anyone to tell me where Emily Anne is registered for a gift for the Period Party.

Does everyone do this? Am I just out of the loop on raising girls?

What’s Your Next? Super-charging Your Career With a Villa Consulting Retreat

What’s your next?

So, I’m at this point in my career… I’ve loved every second of being on the air with the Todd on TV, radio, and now this gloriously expansive digital platform. But I keep feeling this nagging sense that I’m missing something – something important. I feel like there’s more I should be knowing and doing and… I just know. I’m not sure where I should be focusing- there’s so many choices and as women, there are always things we should be doing.

I need coaching. I don’t know if you’ve been subjected to “consultants” in your line of work, but I vividly remember one very expensive consultant who listened to a bit of our morning radio show and told me, “Hey, Erin. You should start saying you’re into NASCAR.”

“I should-  why would I say I’m into NASCAR?” (Mind you, the only name I think is from NASCAR would be like… Dale Earnhardt? He’s NASCAR, right?)

The consultant settled back, tugging at his belt a little. “You should say you’re into NASCAR because guys dig it when girls are into racing.”

“Uh, huh…”

(Image credit: Moose Photos)

What’s your next?

Maybe this is the kind of coaching you’ve gotten. Maybe you haven’t gotten any. But if you’re at a point where you want to rise in the ranks at your company, maybe make a move to a better opportunity, or maybe you’re between jobs and you want to decide what your next should be – you need to be at this retreat! There’s a different energy with women, the way we approach professional challenges is different. We feel a huge pressure because of home, kids, our extended family, church, community, blah blah blah… Everything feels equally important, but how you handle the balls you’re juggling with all twenty fingers and toes changes when you have a better understanding of what you want and what your skills are. This is the gift that Merrilee Buchanan – the CEO and founder of Villa Consulting – will give you.


The retreat is September 8-12th in the beautiful Heber Valley. Everything- ev. er. ee. thing. Is included in this package- a beautiful villa, chef-prepared meals, all the coaching and training, even cocktail hours and adventures designed to stretch your boundaries are included in a price that is a fraction of a regular consulting fee. And when we all charge out of there and back onto the Road of Awesome, Villa Consulting is still behind us, with a support network and checking in to see if we’re reaching our goals.

I was surprised that the hardest thing for me was asking The Todd if I could just scoot off for three days and four nights. We have kids, the show – and all the other stuff that makes us all feel snarly and anxious about leaving our lives – and I felt guilty. He, of course, looked at me like I was a moron and said, “Of course you should go!” Give yourself permission. You likely need this as much as I do.


(Photo credit: Stocksnap)

The next challenge is this: getting your boss to pay for it. Ironically, since I’m the boss it was an easy discussion. But here are some crucial tips and facts to show to your boss to convince them of the wisdom of this move. It’s all about making you more valuable to the company. And it’s helpful to have a little “script” that’s worked well for others. In the end, if you can’t get your company to cover it, ask yourself if it’s worth investing in yourself, in your career. I guarantee it’ll be a fraction of that last family trip to Disneyland.

You can find all the information about the retreat and what’s included here. When you book your place, be sure to add TODDANDERIN for 10% off – you can also bring a friend or co-worker for $1,500 as well. This is our time- Villa Consulting travels all over the world to coach women executives- in fact, they’ve consulted with women in Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. If they can convince business owners of a woman’s value in the corporate world there, then these are some genius consultants! So take advantage of the moment and join me. I’m ready for more- I need help getting there. If you’re in the same position, then let’s do this together. Don’t forget, there’s only 10 spaces open at the retreat as I write this, so please hurry! I’m looking forward to learning with you.

What’s Your Next? Super-charging Your Career With a Villa Consulting Retreat.

Find out more about Villa Consulting here, and sign up for the retreat here. Feel free to email me with any questions at

Utah Eccentric: 5 Quirky Road Trips

quirky utah roadtrips

Utah Eccentric: 5 Quirky Road Trips. Perhaps you just can’t stand the thought of one more weekend languishing in your backyard, hogging all the space in the kiddie pool while your offspring glare at you? We’re here to preserve family unity, my friend. Grab the cooler and fill up the gas tank, you’re going on a road trip!

Pleasingly, there’s a big fat bunch of options for a short road trip along the Wasatch Front.  If you’re looking for something a little quirky, maybe off the beaten path, you’re in the right place, honey.

BTW: ready to introduce some new camping sites into your summer rotation? Check out our “5 Family-Friendly Camping Sites” here.


Utah Eccentric: 5 Quirky Road Trips

antelop island

1. Travel To A Desert Island: Antelope Island is the largest in the little chain dotting the Great Salt Lake.  Step foot onto the island and you’re sent back to frontier life with roaming buffalo, wagon rides, clouds of hummingbirds and primitive camping.  Floating in the pungent, briny brew of the Great Salt Lake is best from there–just be sure to get all those brine shrimp washed off in the campground showers.


Beaver Creek Nudist Ranch[4]

(Photo Credit:

2. Beaver Creek Nudist Ranch: mostly entertaining for what it isn’t–a nudist colony.  A group of Samak mischief-makers put up the sign years back to trick the unsuspecting into thinking they’re going to see some naked bits racing alongside the road up the Mirror Lake Highway past Kamas.  After laughing at your overly hopeful friends, stop by the Samak Smoke House for some incredible smoked trout and salmon and camp in one of the well-kept and surprisingly un-crowded campgrounds.


Old Mine Shaft Entrance

3. Lark, Utah–Extra Creepy Ghost Town: Lark, Utah used to be a bustling lead and copper mining town.  After a tragic explosion in the lead mine in 1950, five miners were lost and their spirits were reported wandering helplessly by the mine’s entrance.  Lark started fading and was eventually shut down by the Kennecott Copper Mine’s executives in the early 1970’s.  About four miles west of Herriman in the Oquirrh Mountains, it’s a fascinating and creepy destination. But I’d be out of there by nightfall…



4. The Antelope Springs “Footprint” Mystery: Millard County is a bonanza for even the newbie rockhound, thousands of trilobites to ferret out and marvel at the Awesome of your very own fossil collection.  Then grab a beer in Delta and start the endless argument over the authenticity of the Antelope Springs Footprint: a fossil found by William Meister in the 1960’s that looks like the imprint of a shoe.  Gasp!  Aliens?  King Arthur?  Who knows?  Easy camping and inexpensive hotels for overnighters.



5. Buddying Up To The Bear Lake Monster: Having worked a summer at Bear Lake 60 miles north of Logan, I am adamant that the Bear Lake Monster exists.  He’s described as half carp/half eel in appearance, and I swear I heard his roar echo over the waters at least twice that summer.  While you’re searching for the elusive serpent, be sure to stop by Raspberry Days and grab a gigantic raspberry shake from the Hometown Drive-in in Garden City.  There are campsites on the beach and inexpensive rentals all around the lake and in nearby Logan Canyon.


Find more fascinating and entertaining Utah adventures at


The Phenomenon of Airbnb and “Forced Civility” – How Home-sharing Has Made Us Better People


The phenomenon of Airbnb and “forced civility.” How home-sharing has made us better people.

I don’t think I waited for my college acceptance email with this much anxiety.

The Todd and I wanted to take the kids to the Maine coast and we’d found the most perfect little cottage, a dreamy Airbnb with the dates we needed wide open. So we sent off our friendly little note about families, sand and lobster. As I hovered over the keyboard I wondered, does another traveler have a better five-star rating than ours? With warmer recommendations?

Fortunately, we got the cottage and I’m packing flip-flops and sunblock as we speak. But the whole afternoon of anxiety makes me ponder the new phenomenon of “forced civility.”

Think about it. I like to believe I’m a nice person. I go out of my way to thank people for a job well done because I know we all like to complain more than compliment. But the days of incivility and casual rudeness are coming to an end and it’s due – at least in part – to the new trend of rating your experience on a site for everyone to see.

It’s not just Airbnb, there’s also Uber and Lyft – where if it comes down to picking up you or someone else at 2am outside a bar, the driver’s going with the passenger who “Tips well! Was really nice!” Wouldn’t you? 

The importance of five stars next to your name is becoming an actual commodity, the numbers that put you first in line. Dr. Robert Cialdini explains some of the key elements involved in the phenomenon in his excellent book, Influence, which is the bible of the marketing industry right now. The book teaches the delicate art of getting people to always say “Yes.” What it essentially seems to boil down to are three key elements: accountability, sincerity, and reciprocity.


Reciprocity is key: the Airbnb host increases the effort to offer a comfortable, beautiful space with thoughtful touches and courteous assistance. In return, the guest goes out of their way to be tidy, pleasant and considerate. Each is pleased with the other’s efforts and feels respected. The host gives an enthusiastic review for the guest, telling others they’ll be pleased to have them in their home. The guest is certain to point out the admirable qualities of the space and how responsive their host was to their needs. Both give a five-star rating to the other. And their excellent, respectful behavior is rewarded.

Would this exchange have been as lovely and accommodating if there had not been a public review under their names? I’d like to think so, but I do know that I might be inclined to be more nit-picky with a hotel stay than in someone’s home, maybe less inclined to point out the positive elements of my time there.

What else drives us to become the pleasant and lovely human beings we are?


Sincerity gives me hope that this isn’t just a temporary fix to our grumpy selves. Airbnb urges us to share a bit about ourselves, why we’re coming to town, who’s with us. This just ended the impersonal exchange that might make me slack off on those good manners Mom tried to instill in me as a child. (Mom tried. Oh, how she tried.) Instead, I’m aware the host “knows” me. I can’t be rude! I’m a guest! 

My best girlfriend Carlie runs a bustling Airbnb flow of guests in and out of her mother-in-law suite, and she says she feels the pressure to be sincere, too. “Here I’ve got this nice mom and dad bringing their daughter to town to drop her off at school. They’re in my home. I want to make them comfortable- it’s kind of an emotional time. So I left a list of favorite college spots for eating, clubbing, hanging out – they thanked me three times.” After sharing these small, personal moments with someone who was a stranger just last week how could you turn into Tourist Monster? You’ve shared a thing. You owe them your best behavior.


Accountability is another important element in the sharing economy. According to You Get What You Give, the Airbnb “bilateral reputation system” rewards popular hosts with more traffic and higher rates. It also puts highly-rated guests in a better position during periods of high demand. But now you have to keep that sweet and pleasant act going. It may be forced initially, but civility becomes a way of life.

My buddy Kevin is a veteran traveler, he’s on the road at least six months of the year. He’s also an Airbnb darling- I told him he should send these reviews to his parents, they’re that good. Kevin groaned. “Yeah, but now I have to be Nice Kevin all the time! I never get to be Snotty Kevin or High-maintenance Kevin like in the good old days of anonymous hotels!” 

So I pushed it. “Yeah, but do you really miss Snotty, High-maintenance Kevin?”

He rolled his eyes. “I dunno, it’s been so long since I got to be those guys that I don’t even remember.”

Success! The crankiest friend I had in college has turned into Nice Kevin for good!


So maybe that’s the end result here. We’re driven to be kind and considerate for that coveted five stars. And somewhere along the way… that’s who we become.

Hmmm… perhaps this is how dating sites should be run.

Welcome To Our “AC-Free” Zone

I don’t judge how anyone tries to keep cool. Just don’t close the freezer door on his head…

(Image credit: PXHere)


Welcome To Our “AC-Free” Zone. As I’m fanning myself, I’m beginning to question the combination of frugality and spite that led us to this place…

Last August I opened a power bill for a galactic $423.74. Yes. One month’s worth of air conditioning. To put it nicely, sweetly, as gently as I can, Utah is a life-sucking dust bowl of death during the summer. May is often even chilly and maybe June suckers you into thinking, “Hey, maybe this summer won’t be so bad…” Then, July rolls around and the heat hits you like a cricket bat to the back of the head. The temperature gleefully climbs to triple digits and squats there like a malevolent wasp over your picnic blanket. It doesn’t take long before everyone’s hovering by their thermostat, wondering why it isn’t cooler yet!

But, please. A $423.74 power bill?

So, here we go- a solemn vow between my spouse and me that we would go “AC-Free” for the entire summer. This was not met with enthusiasm when we announced it to our offspring. But my mother, who grew up in a tiny Southern Utah town, was all in. While I notice her air conditioner is buzzing along industriously when I stop by her house, she has a huge list of suggestions of how people actually survived when there was no such thing as central air.

We’ve implemented the ideas below, and I’ll keep adding new ones to this post as the broiling H-E-double hockey sticks of this month continues.

Welcome To Our “AC-Free” Zone

  • This one seems obvious: a cold shower. I prefer baths, but complete submersion in ice-cold water seemed ill-advised. I can keep moving under a frigid spray. This worked. It cooled my skin enough to fall asleep, even though the bedroom was at 89 degrees. BTW: try a rainshower shower head to pretend you really are under some heavenly waterfall in Hawaii and not your stinking hot apartment- find some easy attachments here.
  • Lucky enough to have a breeze going? Hang a wet sheet from your open window and use the evaporative cooling of the wind to bring the temperature down. This worked. There was enough of a comfortable chill that we slept like babies.
  • Turn off those damn lights!! Gee, I can hear my dad’s words come out of my mouth as I holler at my offspring. It’s a small but obvious point that lightbulbs – even the high-efficiency ones – give off their own heat, adding to your misery. Since it stays lighter longer this time of the year, take advantage of it to keep the lights off. Kind of worked? We’re still pondering this one, but after a week of keeping the lights off until around 9 pm, it seems a little cooler. BTW: there are some low-heat lightbulbs that still manage to be affordable and energy-efficient, have a look here.
  • Drinking one or more cold glasses of water before bed. Replace fluids lost from sweating so dehydration doesn’t interfere with sleep. So stupid. Unless getting up repeatedly through the night because of said glasses of water was part of the plan and then trying to go back to sleep, this was a giant failure.


(Image credit: Pixabay)


  • Meet your new best friend: Mr. Ceiling Fan. When we moved into this house, we wondered if the previous owner owned a ceiling fan franchise. Just about every room had one… which as it turns out, has been our become our best ally. Just remember to adjust the settings on the fan so the blades run counter-clockwise, pulling hot air up and out instead of simply spinning it around the room. No ceiling fan? Put a box fan in your window, turned to pull hot air out of the room and blowing it outside where it belongs. This worked. Our fans run constantly for a fraction of the electrical demand of the air conditioner. BTW: there’s some high-tech, low price ceiling fans here.
  • The most memorable line from my Zachie’s favorite movie, George of the Jungle is this: “Who wears 90 pounds of black leather in the jungle? Cotton! Cotton breathes!” This worked. The villain was correct- Egyptian cotton sheets treat your poor, hot skin more kindly than satin or a grim polyester blend. The lightweight cotton wicks away sweat and allow for a more “breathable” sleep. BTW: I found some surprisingly affordable thread counts on Amazon here.


So, this is where we are, a third of the way through July. More ideas next week – what worked and what didn’t. If we live that long. But our power bill will be a tiny, diminished version of its robust former self! Take that, power company!

What keeps you cool during the blow-torch hot months in your neck of the woods? Share! Spill! We’re giving away a $50 gift card for one of your clever ideas on August 1, 2109.


These links go to our affiliate/influencer page on, where we may receive a tiny commission if you purchase something we recommend.

(Cover image credit: Pedro Sandrini)

(shower image credit Pixabay)

What Do You Do When Things Fall Apart?

What Do You Do When Things Fall Apart? What do you do when things fall apart? I mean, everything in your life is in pieces? Kirk Bentzgen- owner of the massive Performance Auto- is my favorite story of how to come back when everything looks utterly bleak.

How do you come back from divorce, losing your business, losing your father and getting brain cancer? This man is a hero, and his path back is a great guidebook for all of us struggling with loss. Watch and be inspired.

Need more uplifting stories?

What happens when your flight attendant daughter can’t come home for Christmas? 

Gentle ways to care for yourself during busy and stressful times- find it here.


Do you know someone who has overcome unimaginable odds to find happiness again? We’d love to talk to them- please email me at


5 Ways To Become Less Busy

5 Ways To Become LESS Busy. You know, I don’t think I have EVER heard the phrase: “I’ve got all the time in the world… nothing to do… man, this is relaxing!”  Nope.  Never heard that one.

Why do we all think that being hellishly busy is something to be proud of?  I think sometimes it maybe gives me a sense of importance, that sooooo many things require my attention.  The breaking point was the day when 5-year-old Zoe, our miracle baby, was clamoring to sit on my lap.  I was suddenly furious at her.  I had SO. MUCH. TO. DO. And this kid was bugging me!

Let’s examine this, shall we? I was mad at the baby I love more than life because she wanted to cuddle.

What in the heck is wrong with me?


I vowed right then to become less busy, even if it meant being ruthless.  Here are 5 steps I took that day – and from then on.  See if any of these work for you:

5 Ways To Become LESS Busy

  1. Learn to say no. This is key. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much.  I suck at this.  I want everyone to be happy.  But on that pivitol day, I was not happy.  Neither was Zoe.
  2. Evaluate your time. How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important.
  3. Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. Seriously, what is most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities.
  4. Simplify home tasks. Think about all the stuff you do at home.  What can you live with?  A little dust?  Not decorating for every single holiday?  Focus on the most important, and try to find ways to eliminate the other tasks.
  5. Limit your communications. Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, Facebook and every other electronic leash you can think of.  I used to be proud of the fact that I actually slept with my iPhone in my hand.  Not joking, here. It can easily take every moment of our day if we let it.  My goal now is to check work and website email only twice a day.  Check messages and return calls once a day.  And so on.  This one is going to be the hardest for me, I won’t lie.


When you finally do have say, five minutes of spare time– do NOT freak out!  Don’t suddenly busy yourself with another task– I’m sure there’s plenty.  Instead, sit for a minute, take a breath.  Look around.  Examine what you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.  If we’re very lucky, what we’ll be feeling is… peace.

Four-legged Babies Need Foster Families Too…

Four-legged Babies Need Foster Families Too…

When you have a sister who is the director of the Utah Humane Society, you foster a lot of animals.

A lot.


Kitties, bunnies, an arthritic chihuahua with his leg in a cast… the list goes on. Finding “foster families” to help is important- because whether the animal is too young to go out on the floor for adoption, too sick, recovering from an injury, the clinic just doesn’t have enough room for these extra-needy little fellas. (There were over 3,000 animals at the UHS alone last year who needed foster care.) This is where a foster family comes in. You care for the animals at your place until they’re ready to be adopted. Along the way, you help the creature get used to humans by holding them and loving on them relentlessly so that by the time they’re ready for adoption, they’re super adorable.


Adorable is important, because your little foster baby is competing against dozens of other pets for adoption. Helping them put their best paw forward (sorry, my 8-year-old is cracking up over that pitiful little joke) gives them the best shot at an immediate adoption with a great family.


We hosted our first bunch of scraggly-looking kitties when my Zoe was only 4. She adored them. She loved on them relentlessly to the point that they’d look over her shoulder at me, pleading for rescue. Which I ignored. Zoe rubbed them on the face of our poor dog, Gille. (That dog is a saint.) Since then, my indomitable daughter has harrassed countless litters into civility, I’m proud to say every one of her creatures has been adopted the first day they were put out in a cage. The experience has taught our daughter about patience, empathy, and the ability to not throw up when a sick puppy throws up on her. (It happens. We go through a lot of cleaning spray and kitty litter.) I worried about how she’d handle sending the first batch back, but she was great- she gave them all a pep talk and told them it was time to, “Find your forever family. Now put yourselves out there! You can do it!”


My sister – who has a flexible moral compass when it comes to luring us into another foster episode – sent me a photo of three baby kittens.

“Ready for some kitty action?”

I texted, “Sure, Zoe’s excited.”

Turns out the pickup included three additional kitties.

“You told me three!” I texted.

Juli was unsympathetic. “You should have looked at the photo more closely. Sucker.”



So, now we’re buried in six squalling kittens. And it’s wonderful. Hopefully, my manipulative photos of our current adorable, fluffy kitties have given you a desire to foster, too. For the Utah Humane Society, reach them here. The National Humane Society can help you find your closest shelter here. (Editor’s note: this is Jimmy, my favorite. He loves to sleep on his back to expose his delightfully chubby belly and his pink paws. Admit it. You’re on Cuteness Overload right now, aren’t you?)

(All images provided by Naomi Garrow)



One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson & The Most Beautiful Bucket List Ever

One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson & The Most Beautiful Bucket List Ever. Louis Tomlinson from the band One Direction has been in mourning since losing his mother and sister this year- until he met an elderly gentleman mourning his wife. You’ll melt when you see how they’ve healed each other. You can see the video sparked from One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson & The Most Beautiful Bucket List Ever here.