Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is Triberr and why Should I Join?

You've heard about it, you've seen the tweets. You might even be in a tribe but you have no idea what you are supposed to do now. I'd like to introduce you to the world of Triberr, the reach multiplier.

There are discussions all the time about how to drive more traffic to blog sites. Triberr is a tool that does just that. Triberr is made up of individual tribes, the members of which typically have similar blogs or simply are joining together to reach new people. It works this way: each member of a tribe sends out automatically generated tweets with the names of the other members blog posts. Let's assume that you have 10 Twitter followers and you have 10 tribe members, each of whom have 10 members. This means that info about your latest blog post will be sent out to 100 people.

You can approve or disapprove which tweets you send out from your homepage so if you don't think your twitter followers will appreciate tweet X from tribe mate Y, you don't have to send it.

I currently have around 1150 Twitter followers. Through my participation in Triberr, my reach is currently close to 120,000 Twitter users. Traffic to my blog has increased three fold, although the number of comments I get has not.

If Triberr sound like something you would be interested in, I am starting a tribe of parent Bloggers who publish original content. You may have the occasional review or giveaway on your blog, but reviews, deals, and giveaways cannot be the primary focus of your blog (there are a lot of tribes on Triberr for deal bloggers).
If you are interested and are new to Triberr, either leave a post with your twitter name and blog address or tweet me @erinswallace. Any other questions? Ask me!

Tomorrow's post will be about the ins and outs of Triberr: bones, karma, etc. See you then.
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How Do You Deal with Writer's Block?

So yesterday I was on Twitter and one of my contacts was suffering with a huge case of writer's block. I told her that they way I deal with it is just to sit down and write anything, as long as you are writing. That's been my strategy for as long as I can remember.

And then today came. I woke up and my brain, which is usually brimming over with blog ideas, is sluggish and dry. I have writer's block, which seems somehow like some evil karma coming back to slap me in the face. So I am doing what I told my Tweep to do and writing. Anything.

When my brain freezes up like this it's like one of those natural dams. Things have been flowing along quite nicely then all of the sudden silt and dross and decaying leaves block up everything (because it usually is the silt and dross in my life that clogs me up). The pressure of the flow builds up, but though it yearns to break free, there is nothing that can break the dam. Until one day, a huge swell comes through and the ideas flow again. You never know when that swell will happen, so, like any writer, you fret and continue to claw away, begging for any spark of inspiration.

I went to several different writing prompt sites today, looking for that spark. A few prompts were, quite frankly, ridiculous, and a few informed me that it was free writing day. How's that for a slap in the face? If I could write freely, would I be looking for a prompt?

So I took my own advice, and here's the result. I can't say that it freed me in any way, but at least I've gotten some words out and the page is no longer blank.

What do you do when you have writer's block? Is there a process or a piece of advice you follow? Do you have a muse, a fail safe? Millions of writers would love to know.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

21 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

A yard sale is a lot of work but can be a real money maker if you know the "tricks of the trade." Here are my tips for having a fabulous sale that brings in lots of profits.

1. Pick a Date, but don't plan too far in advance. If Tim doesn't set a date for our sales I won't start the actual work of the sale. Picking a date gives me a deadline to work toward, and gets my tookas in gear.

2. Check the Weather. Since you aren't planning too far in advance, pick a day that has a good forecast. People will come out in hot weather, but only the most hardcore will come to a sale in the rain.

3. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise. Put an ad in the local newspaper and in the small papers in close towns. You can place notices for yard sales for free on and Craigslist. Put something on your personal facebook account (keeping in mind that you will have to let people know your address).

4. Make plenty of Signage. Make sure you have signs out directing people to the sale. In addition, there are a lot of people out there that don't get the paper or check the internet for sales. But if they see a sign for your sale and they are close by they will stop and see what you have for sale. Signage is a must.

5. Price Everything. Many people want to get in and out of the sale with minimal interaction and if the item they want isn't priced, they aren't going to ask about it. They'd rather leave without it than have to ask.

6. Price to sell. People these days don't have a lot of money to spend. They expect to get a large bag full of stuff for 5 or 10 dollars. Pricing is a tricky business. Room to barter down has to be built in but if items are priced too high customers will walk away empty handed. I always search the web for "yard sale prices"; there are a number of good guides available.

7. Have your sale in a location that can be seen well from the street so that those that didn't get the word can stop when they see it.

8. The more you have to sell, the better. Hit up your parents, friends, etc., for things they want to get rid of. Passersby are more likely to stop if they see a large variety of lots of stuff.

9. Assure plenty of parking. If they can't park, they can't stop!

10. Make your house look inviting. It may go without saying, but mow the lawn, clean up the flowerbeds and the porch. The friendlier looking your house is, the more customers you'll have.

11. Set up your goods logically. Put all of the toiletries in one place, the books and electronics in another. People don't want to sift through everything. If they have to, they just might leave.

12. Stage your sale. Make nice looking displays of your goods. Concentrate specifically on items geared toward women, as they especially will appreciate a nice looking display.

13. Make sure your items are clean. No one wants to buy a dirty shirt or a dusty table.

14. Make your walkway hazard free, as handicapped accessible as possible, and allow room for 2+ people between tables. You will get quite a few elderly people at your sales. If they don't think they can navigate your aisles, they wont bother getting out of their cars.

15. Start your sale with plenty of change. You don't want to have to turn someone away because they only have a twenty and you don't have enough ones to make change.

16. Have plenty of empty bags of all sorts of sizes. Offer a bag to someone who has gathered up a lot of items. If they can carry things easier they might buy more, not to mention that it's good customer service.

17. Keep you dogs out of view. The dog lovers out there might not agree, but there are a lot of people who do not relish the thought of being jumped on or accosted by your pups. Even is they aren't jumpers, barkers, etc., don't give people the opportunity to skip by your sale because they see a dog.

18. When advertising, use the following keywords if they apply: multifamily, huge, collectibles, tools, household items, items for baby/toddler, and cheap. They will draw people in.

19. Take early birds. Your sale doesn't start until 8, but a few customers show up before then. Let them shop while you set up. You never know if they'll buy and you don't want to lose the money that they'll spend.

20. Smile! Have you ever been to a yard sale where the people holding it are so surly and mean looking that you want to run? Don't be that sales person. Say hello and be nice. Your customers will appreciate it.

21. Don't hover. Let your customers shop without feeling like they have to buy. Lay back and make your sale low pressure. Let your customers relax and they just may stay longer.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know! Let's all have fantastic sales and make fab cash!
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Pleasant Encounter

I'm not sure where it came from, but the other day this was waiting for me as I left the house. A little pleasant encounter.
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When 3-5's Sing, Hilarity Ensues

This is the first time our 3-5 class has ever sang for the church. We have a few physical comedians in the making, it seems. Will is the second from the left.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two Easy Peasy Dog Treat Recipes

We are in the process of crate training and house training Carly and Ellie. As any dog owner knows, training always goes better with treats. I was getting store bought treats, but at the rate we are going through them, we'd have been bankrupt by the end of the week. So I took matters into my own hands and baked up some treats for my sweets. The first uses sweet potatoes and beef base and the second ground meat, after that the recipes are basically the same with a few tweaks.

Cheesy Sweet Potato Treats

You'll Need:
2 cups mashed sweet potato
1 stick butter
2-3 cups of flour
1 cup water
1 TBSP beef base
1 egg
2 cups cheddar cheese

1. Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl using your microwave.
2. Add sweet potato and egg and mix well.
3. Dissolve beef base in water then add to mixture.
4. Fold in flour one cup at a time until you form a non-sticky dough ball, similar in consistency to bread dough.
5. Fold in cheese.
6. On a well floured surface either pat or roll doug until it is approx. 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. My small dog likes them thin, my beagle, thick.
7. Using a knife, cut the dough into 1in x 2in strips.
8. Place on well greased cookie sheets. You can place them very close together.
9. Bake at 300F for 45 min to an hour. Treats should be firm to the touch.
10. Turn off the oven and keep treats in oven for another hour and a half.
11. Give Fido a homemade treat!

Cheeseburger Treats

You'll Need:
1 pound of ground meat, your choice
1 cup of hot water
1 stick butter
2 eggs
3-4 cups flour
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

1. Melt butter as before
2. Add ground meat and hot water to a food processor and puree meat.
3. Add meat to butter, stir together.
4. Add eggs.
5. Add flour as before until you get a nice dough ball that feels like bread dough.
6. Add cheese
7. Roll, cut, and bake as before.
8. Show Fifi how much you love her!

These treats are really crunchy, so if your dog is smaller you'll want to roll them out thinner. Carly and Ellie love them, hope your best friends do, too.

Pictures are from We Heart It, but our dogs look just the same!
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Slime and Play-Doh recipes, Oh My!

So in continuation of Martin King's recollection of the slimy, icky things we loved as kids, I thought I'd tell you how to make Slime and Play-Doh at home. They really are easy to make, and the kids will LOVE them.


You will need:

A 4-oz bottle of Elmer's gel glue
food coloring
glitter is optional

1. Take half a cup of hot water and add borax slowly until it stops dissolving. If it's cloudy, that's okay.
2. Stir 4 ounces of glue into 1 cup of water. Gel glue creates see through slime, white glue will create opaque slime.
3. Add food coloring to the glue solution. Get creative! Add glitter for "princess" slime. Radioactive slime is produced by using 2 drops of yellow and 1 drop of green food coloring.
4. Mix 1/3 cup borax solution with 1 cup glue solution. If you want to make bigger batches, just combine the two solutions in a ratio of 1 part borax solution to 3 parts glue solution.
5. Get Slimy!!

Play-Doh Madness!

You will need:

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
food coloring

1. Mix all of the ingredients together and stir over low heat until it is no longer sticky and thickens.
2. Let the mixture cool until it is safe enough to handle.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or non-stick mat and knead until the dough is smooth.
4. Separate into a few smaller batches.
5. Add food coloring by making a divot in the center of each ball and kneading the color through (similar to adding eggs into homemade noodles). Keep adding dye until you get the intensity of color that you want.
6. Make something cool!

Store both the Slime and Play-Doh in air-tight plastic bags.

Sticky: Martin King's #100BlogFest

I am thrilled to be part of Martin King's #100BlogFest: 100 blogs, 100 posts. All of his posts have focused on childhood memories and today's is one that I am more than familiar with, as we had gobs of ooey, gooey, messy stuff to play with as children. I won't keep you waiting, the man of the hour, here's Martin King!


Sticky, gloopy, slimy, messy and silly. Do you know what I am talking about? These are just a few of the words to describe today’s memories.

We are talking about those fun substances that every kid loved to play with and without further ado, we begin with Slime. It started off as a shocking bogey coloured green and you would have running out of your nose or put in your hair. In fact you would put anywhere that no other substance would dare to go. The only problem with it was it got dirty and didn’t look like fun anymore.

Then there was Silly Putty and I’m pretty certain it came in a plastic egg. It was fun for a bit, but then it lost its kudos pretty quickly.

And then there was the pretender to the thorn, Playdo. It came in lots of funky colours and an array of fun toys to play with like the barbershop machine and you could make someone’s hair grow and then chop it off again. There was also a recipe for making your own which was great, but it smelt like salty food stuff.

But the king of messy stuff had to be Plastecine. It came in lots of different coloured strips and you could make just about anything out of it. They even made a cartoon character called Morph out of the stuff. We would play with it for hours, totally unaware that half of it had got stuck in the carpet. But it didn’t matter how hard you tried, all the colours would end up mixing together and you would end up with one big lump of it in brown.

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sponsor Dropped Stitches through Barter or Cash (September)


Dropped Stitches is looking for September sponsors!

This is a great way to advertise your etsy shop, new blog, or other site.

I currently have over 1200 subscribers between Google Reader, Feed Burner, and Blog Lovin'.
On Twitter, I have 1,050 subscribers and am adding more daily. My personal Facebook page reaches 493 people and my new blog fan page has 63 followers (all posts are published to both pages). I am a member of Triberr, and through my tribes my tweets reach 54,750 people. Dropped Stitches had 5500 pageviews last month with approximately 2400 unique page views, which was up 18% from last month.

I am offering sponsorship opportunities by either buying a slot through Paypal or to sponsors of giveaways on the blog. Adds are 150x75 pixels and will be placed in the order payment is received. They will be located in the top left sidebar. You may order multiple months if you desire. Each sponsor will get a short write up on the blog dispersed throughout the month in the order in which payment was received; giveaway sponsors will have their write-up on the giveaway post.

Giveaway sponsors: You item must be valued at least $10. I would like to do a giveaway each Wednesday; I am focusing on products that will pamper moms and other women (creams, soaps, jewelry, candles, etc.). If your item is over ten dollars your add will remain on the blog longer, each $10 will earn 1 month of ad space. I use Rafflecoptor for giveaways.

150 x 75 pixels


$10 per month

Full payment is due before ad is placed.
Paypal, cashier's checks, and money orders will be accepted.
Ad prices will be locked in for one year after date of purchase.

Please email me at to discuss these opportunities.


I have been in a funk, which I suppose is understandable. So today I have decided to focus on joy. For it is joy beyond all understanding that awaits us.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Bittersweet Life

I've written a lot about my grandpa Herb on this blog; about his Honor Flight to see the WWII Veterans Memorial, about being inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, and most recently about dealing with his impending death and the feelings behind that. Last Wednesday he passed away in hospice after falling and hitting his head. He was 95.

He had wanted to "go home" for a long time. My grandmother and his sisters and brothers have all died. I know he missed them, was tired of the pain from his cancer and simply being old. I think he felt a little lost in the world. He was a strong believer in Christ, very involved with the Methodist church. He was a good, sweet man and I know where he is in glory right now.

He was the last of my grandparents. My grandparents have always been important to me, so I'm feeling a bit adrift right now. It seems that the natural order of things is all askew, that life is a little too bittersweet.

I have been staring at that word, "bittersweet," and I don't know what else to say. I think I haven't fully processed all of my emotions yet and so I don't event know what I feel. Of course I miss him, and all of them, but should I feel more, or something else. I suppose, like with all things, time will reveal the answers.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

House Dreaming: 30 Days About Me

Since the earliest days of the internet I have spent countless hours searching for the perfect house in England. My dream home has always been in England, surrounded by acres of countryside, near a quaint village, and grand, but not too grand. Boston Mill fits the bill nicely. Read the realtors description (your for 875,500 pounds) and see if you agree.

*Hall *Drawing Room *Sitting Room *Library *Cosy snug *Farmhouse Kitchen *Cloakroom & Boot Room *Small Cellar *Two Staircases *Landing *Five Bedrooms (Three En Suite) *Family Cloaks / Wash Room *Stone Stable and Log Store *Modern Block Of Four Utility Sheds Including Boiler & Laundry Rooms *Holding Yard With Two Secure Garages *Double Open Garages *Stunning Formal Gardens In Front Of The House Situation and Description

Enjoying a wonderful riverside setting with some great views over the beautiful Tamar Valley ‘Boyton Mill’ is approached down a lovely driveway lined by hedges and areas of lawn. As you turn the last corner and drive over the bridge which crosses the leat the full size of the millers house becomes apparent, a delight to behold with its stunning gardens, leat runs, bridges and wooded paddocks.

Early occupation of the area around Boyton Mill is suggested by an iron age camp above The Mill. On the properties higher ground there are also signs of traditional Saxon field systems. The main house appears to be constructed of stone and cob rendered externally under a slate roof. It has been well maintained and provides comfortable family accommodation which is well laid out and centrally heated. The listed Mill building to one side is believed to have been rebuilt during the early part of the 19th Century. Although the leat no longer runs the wheel still turns as does the machinery inside. Some of the original mill stones have been retained, one being used on one of the properties terraces to create a circular table.

The Miller’s House is believed to date from the early 16th century and has been extended during recent years to provide additional accommodation. The master bedroom suite now has its own staircase rising up from the spacious drawing room below whilst the main landing in the older part of the house is accessed through a cosy snug set on a mezzanine level.

“Boyton Mill” enjoys a truly wonderful location about one mile from the village of Boyton which has country lanes in all directions around it. The village has a church and village hall. Launceston is some six miles to the south providing a full range of social, commercial and shopping facilities. To the north of Boyton are the stunning stretches of north Devon and Cornwall with the coastal cliffs being interspersed with quaint fishing villages and sandy beaches.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Back To The Motherland: 30 Days About Me

I am an Irish American. With a name like Erin, you probably figured that out already. On my mom's side, we are descendants of the Howards (who really are Welsh, but also lived in Ireland) and my dad's grandparents were Pierson and Rose Gilliland, who were first generation Americans; my grandma Sally, their daughter, married Harold Harris, also Irish. So I'm pretty much an Irish gal who was born in America.

I have always wanted to see Ireland. To see the land where my ancestors came from, to breathe the air, to see the green, green fields, to drive the narrow country roads and eat at a pub while drinking some warm beer (dark beer, please, not this yellow stuff we American's call beer). I want to walk the streets of Dublin and Galway, stay in some country castle turned hotel-estate, and eat corned beef and cabbage where my great-great grandmother learned to cook it.

When I was in England I met an older Irish man who on first glance though I was Irish, too. He told me that Ireland was calling me home, and that I had her soil in my veins. If that's not a call to the motherland, I don't know what is.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

OCD Me: 30 Days About Me

So this is how it is. I'm leaving the house and I reach in my bag for my keys where I always (ALWAYS) put them. But they aren't there, and there really isn't much in my purse.

So I tear through the house like a green banshee, rip the place apart, get all "No wire hangers" Mommy Dearest crazy, and I still don't find them.

I freak out about my keys. I might not know where my wallet is, there's no money pr personal data to be had from stealing it, but if I loose my keys I go bonkers.

And you know what? When I was in medical school I did a rotation in Portsmouth, which was really far away from where I lived in Belpre. The last day, I'm all packed up and ready to go home but the doc I'm following wants my help one last time in surgery. I change and since I don't have a locker I put my clothes and keys on the bench in the locker room. And when I get back, my keys are gone. Nowhere. I had to call a locksmith to get a key for my car and hope my landlord was home to let me in my apartment after my three hour drive. The moral of all of this is that I LIVED. The earth didn't end because I lost my keys. But I'm still nuts when it comes to them.

So in my riot through the house I finally decide to return to look in my purse again. They are there. They were all along. Every time this happens, they are always in my purse where I ALWAYS put them. I guess the moral to this story is that I am a little nuts, the keys are always in the purse, take a chill pill. Or a little goblin is messing with me. One or the other.
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The Marysville Zoo and Aquarium

So I think I'm going to start charging admission to everyone who walks through my front door because I am running a zoo. At this moment we have three cats (Quickie, Linus, and Foxy; for you long time readers, Henry ran away and Stanley went to a kitty retirement home), a hedgehog, four fish, two new dogs, and a Texas-sized cricket. Yes, a cricket. He's decided that our foyer is a nice home, and he doesn't bother anyone, so he can stay.

The two dogs. Ahem. I am a cat person but I love all animals. It's just that dogs are lots and lots of work. Ellie, a dachshund/cocker spaniel mix, came to us from a church friend, eldest child begged and pleaded and she would do all of the work, etc, etc. Then brother Collin put forth the fact that he has never had a pet of his own, his grades went up, he's been more responsible, could he please have a dog? And of course he'll take care of it. He got a sweet beagle from the pound named Carly.

Why do we believe our kids when they say these things? It's all well and good for the first few days until the novelty wears off and then guess who's taking care of the dogs? Mama, that's who. Ellie is the most resistant-to-housetraining dog I have ever known; I'm going to have to crate her all day and night if she doesn't get her act together. But she's cute and loves me like I am her god. Carly's a sweet girl who needs alot of attention as she came from a neglectful and abusive home. She's got 2 years of no love to catch up on and she laps up each second of it.

So there's my zoo, complete with insect exhibition. Haven't figured out admission, will let you all know when we officially open to the public. Jack Hanna, eat your heart out!
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Favorite Band/Musician: 30 Days About Me

I can't really say that through the entirety of my life I've had only one favorite artist. There are many that I love; how can I pick just one?

When I was a child it was pretty much all about Donna Summer, Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles. The soundtrack to "Urban Cowboy" and "The Jazz Singer" were always on the top of my playlist, too.

Through my teen years, I was crazy in love with Bono. U2 was, bar none, the greatest band in the universe to me. But after "Joshua Tree" they changed their style and it was never the same for me. I wanted the angst, not the pop.

I learned to appreciate Earth, Wind, and Fire, Joni Mitchell (at the top of my list; she is a genius), Led Zeppelin, and jazz greats like Lee Morgan, Dave Brubeck, and Erroll Garner at that time. My mom took me on a musical journey away from pop and toward everything great. She's a music encyclopedia with great taste.

In college my roommate introduced me to the Indigo Girls (and she learned about Joni from me). I was developing a taste for folk that I carry to this day.

Nowadays, I have such eclectic tastes that if you put my iPod on shuffle you'll hear Jay-Z, Rubinstein, Justin Timberlake, Iron and Wine, Zero 7, Luciana Sousa, Yassou N'Dour, Coldplay; the list goes on and on. Oh, and the Beasties Boys! I LOVE the Beastie Boys.

I've always dreamed about owning a radio station that plays everything, all genres, just as long as it's good music.

How about you? What is your favorite band or artist? Is there someone sort of obscure but great that you love? Tell me about them - I love to discover great new music!
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Now and Then (it's the 70's, baby!): 30 Days About Me

I'm not exactly sure how old I am in this picture but I'm guessing about 6 (so that's 32 years ago, folks). I had just gotten this groovy coat and was modeling it in my grandparent's apartment. I think the foot at the left belongs to my grandpa; when I look at this picture it transports me back in time to a time when I spent as much time as I could in that apartment. I dream about it and my grandparents at least once a week. Oh! And I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention. The Dorothy Hamill hair cut, the style of my youth.

And then there's me now. I don't know what to say except that's what I look like when I have makeup done and I've spent some time on my hair. That's me, all right.
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Something I Hate: 30 Days About Me

When I was young I was ridiculously picky. There was very little that I would eat. Nowadays I'll try just about anything, but there are a few food items that I simply despise.

Pimentos. Don't even get me started. They completely ruin the flavor of anything they are added to. I am so disappointed when I order something at a restaurant and they've jazzed it up with pimentos. Makes the dish entirely inedible.

Melon, any type. I've never liked it. I've really tried. People eating it seem to enjoy it so much. I really, really don't.

Cilantro. I actually read something about this in the Wall Street Journal. Cilantro hatred may actually be a genetic trait, and the theory goes that those that hate is cannot actually smell the pleasant citrus odors that those who like it detect. All I really know is that it is vile.

Root Beer. What I really hate is when I order my daughter root beer (because she loves it) and I order my diet soda and they don't mark the lids and I take a long draw of wretched root beer. I can't stand it! I know this is another one of those everyone-loves-it-so-why-don't-you things, but I just hate the stuff.

So there you go. If you really want to keep me away, make a melon pimento cilantro salad with root beer on the side (although, that might just keep Anyone away!).
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