Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Baseball

Source: Pixabay

Baseball fans love the month of April. It's a magical time which includes Opening Day of a brand new baseball season with all its promise of a successful winning season and the possibility of making and breaking records.



"Hammerin' Hank Aaron


Hank Aaron with the Braves 1960
One of the most famous 'broken records' occurred 40 years ago on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's 'unbreakable' home run record by hitting home run number 715. “Hammerin' Hank” would go on to have a career high of 755 home runs (a record broken by Barry Bonds in 2007, as baseball records are wont to do). Carolan Ross (Crosscreations) has included Hank Aaron in her HubPages article about the top ten baseball players Best in Baseball - MLB Heroes - worthy of April Baseball recognition.



Jackie Robinson Day


And the most special moment of April Baseball is celebrated every April 15th – the day in 1947 that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. On that day, every baseball player on every team honors Jackie by wearing his number 42. Ellen Brundige (mythphile) tells us how this Baseball Player Changed the World.



Back in 1947, the father of Hank Aaron told his son that no black man would ever be allowed to play on a Major League team. Jackie Robinson changed that forever.



April Baseball Moments...


A few other 'April' moments in baseball...


  • On April 4, 2003, Sammy Sosa became the 18th member of the 500 Home Run Club 
  • On April 22, 2014, Albert Pujols became the very latest member of the 500 Home Run Club, an 'unofficial' honor held by only 26 players in the history of baseball.
  • On Sunday, April 8, 2012, first baseman Prince Fielder recorded his 1,000th hit while playing for the Detroit Tigers.
  • On April 29, 1986, Roger Clemens made MLB history by striking out 20 Seattle Mariners in a 3-1 Red Sox win. He would go on to win the Cy Young Award later that year and lead his team to the 1986 World Series. 
  • There have only been 23 'Perfect Games' by pitchers in the entire history of Major League Baseball.  Two occurred in April - Charlie Robertson (#5) on 4/20/1922 and Philip Humber (#21) on 4/21/2012 - BOTH for the Chicago White Sox!



April baseball

My favorite time of the year when it all begins again!



Baseball reviews from Baseball Fan Wednesday-Elf.



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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Sky is Falling!


Little Henny Penny
Do you remember how it felt when you were expecting your first child?  Perhaps you poured over books like What to Expect When You are Expecting.  Wasn’t it fun to prepare the nursery and begin to shop for baby things?

That’s exactly what I am feeling and doing these days.  There is so much to do to get ready for my little bundles of joy.  I thought I was having triplets, but it turns out it will likely be sextuplets.  Now that was a real shocker. 

I’m hoping to extend my due date for a couple of weeks.  I know that’s counter to what most new mothers-to-be want.  My sister was begging her doctor to induce labor near the end of her first pregnancy.  Given the snow and freezing temperatures, this is no time to be bringing a baby into the world. 

Perhaps you’re thinking I’m a wimp… letting a little April snow and frigid weather take precedence over childbirth.  Um, perhaps this would be a good time to let you know I’m having chicks.  And, those little peeps will be living outdoors at some point.  Since newly hatched chickens cannot regulate their body temperature, even with a heat lamp I don’t dare have them out in a coop in the fickle Ides of April.

So I continue to happily work on the nursery and pour over books like Chick Days.  As I turn each page, my excitement and anticipation grow.  I never imagined having a baby at this age, but I’m told the pleasure is even greater when you're a midlife mother. 

While you wait for the baby announcements to arrive, I invite you to check out my new Chick Days review.  Any advice for this new mother hen?



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Monday, April 28, 2014

Primitive Camping in the Mid-Atlantic: Green Ridge State Forest


Have you ever known about a place or a thing so special that you wanted to keep it all to yourself?  You were afraid to let others know about it?  Well, that’s how I’ve felt about Green Ridge State Forest in Flintstone, Maryland for several years. 

I’m now ready to share my special place with you.


As compared to all other places I’ve gone camping, and there have been many, I rate Green Ridge State Forest as a 10 out of 10. 

I am aware that anyone who goes camping will have their own criteria for rating campgrounds.  As a woman, I am aware that many of my female friends require parking spots large enough for their RV, electricity for their curling irons and blow dryers (their statements, not mine), and modern bathroom facilities complete with hot running water.  I do not share these sentiments with my friends. 

My top requirements for a campground include:

  • Privacy – I don’t want my site right on the road or in close quarters with others.
  • Natural setting – I want to see the plants, birds, and wildlife.  I don’t want the only four-legged thing I see to be a lawn chair.
  • Cooking over an open fire.
  • Low-cost. If I am spending just a few dollars less than a cheap hotel room (and I’m that close to the campers next door) I’d rather be in the hotel room.
  • Amenities that include only the great outdoors. Pinball machines and putt-putt golf are not reasons I go camping.

I’ve experienced primitive camping at Green Ridge as a lone woman and as part of small groups.  My favorite times were the times that included my son.

I have shared information and my photographs about Primitive Camping at Green Ridge State Forest and will soon share my last  personal adventure there that was a solo and minimalist overnight stay.

If you love camping, and are in the Mid-Atlantic states area, you must consider seeing Green Ridge State Forest.  And remember, whenever you are in an outdoor setting, especially natural settings, practice the art of “leave no trace”.  The earth is good to us, let’s keep it clean.





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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Crafting is not just about having a Glue Gun!

I am Mickie and I was formerly known as "The Glue Gun Slinger" contributor on Squidoo (Now Squidoo is no more and all of my articles are on Hubpages.) It was my job to find wonderful craft projects that use some kind of glue and share them with my followers. For example, I recently discovered how to make a birdhouse out of wine corks (yes, that is a link!) and published my own page featuring this project. As can be expected from this Glue Gun Slinger, that project uses lots of hot glue and a glue gun. Here is a photo of my friend, Toni, and her bird house:



What I would love to be the most famous for, however, is "saving the world, one book at a time"! My favorite way to use glue is for repairing books. Yes, real everyday paper books that have actual pages you can turn with your very own fingers.

I am a retired librarian and I learned how to make repairs while working and volunteering in public libraries. I have written several tutorials on subjects like repairing a child's Bible, repairing a torn page,  and reattaching a cover to a board book. I even have an article about (of all things!) The Best Glues for Book Repairs.

While I was the Glue Gun Slinger, I corralled many sticky projects on a Pinterest Board that you can visit by clicking here. I just know that you will find a craft that you would love to make! Make sure you have glue!

What am I crafting now? Greeting Cards. With Mother's Day and Father's Day quickly approaching, I wanted to find an easy, yet spectacular personal card for those occasions. One page I found on the Hubpages website was Old Book Page Crafts by "lbrummer". This contributor shares ideas for using pages from books to craft beautiful projects. Yes, this might involve tearing apart a book, but sometimes books are beyond repair and the best use for them is to upcycle those tomes into something beautiful. I have even used pages from an old dictionary to cover an old lampshade using glue thinned with water as the decoupage medium.

So, as you can see, I have more than just a glue gun in my holster!






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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Project in a Box

 This week I'm revisiting craft kits, and encouraging YOU to review your favorites. While there is no better source of crafting materials than the contents of your recycling bin, there is also nothing like a fabulous craft kit to inspire and encourage your child to make something creative. A craft kit can provide you with everything you need to "bling" up your own upcycling or other crafty project, or it can provide a complete craft in a box, giving you all the materials you need to make a particular craft (which, despite being most fond of spontaneous crafting, I do love for those times when you just want a quick craft with little or no set-up, or a handy themed craft that is ready to go without lots of prep!) 


This week saw us celebrating St George's Day on the 23rd April, the feast day of the patron saint of England. To mark the occasion, I set up an activity table of St George and the Dragon crafts, puzzles and coloring for my daughter to delve into. 

The main project featured the kits pictured - a catapult craft with St George decor (left), and a castle made from a box (below), all from the marvelous UK company ToucanBox, who post out lovely little parcels filled with everything you need in one box to complete a craft project from start to finish.  

This is an ace idea to get you creating, without having to hunt down individual bits and bobs, and then not be able to do a craft because you don't have any blue ribbon or green foam shapes or the right kind of googley eyes.

The thing I love most about craft kits is that I can pull one out of a drawer and give it to my daughter knowing that she is going to enjoy some independent creative play time. She LOVES new craft kits, big or small, and often raids her art drawers to see if there are any lurking about that she hasn't done yet! She is craft mad and would happily craft every day if she could, and I don't always have the time to prepare a craft on the spot when she wants to do one, so I keep a stock of little kits ready! 

We also have a few "bigger" kits on hand, usually ones given as birthday and Christmas gifts, and these are always a great source of excitement when broken open! One such kit, received this past Christmas, was the Melissa and Doug Wooden Stringing Beads, which I've just reviewed. A combination of fun crafting (creating jewellery and other objects with the wood beads and laces) and fine motor skill practice

What craft kits do your children love? Share a review with us! Review one of the many wonderful kits on this selection of Kids Craft Kits for Under-Fives, or if you can't see your fave, tell us about it anyway! Or perhaps you like to make your own kits, or have a fabulous DIY craft tutorial to share? If so, pop it into Squidoo's How-To format and share your ideas with the world. The more we share with each other to benefit the growth and creativity of children, the better! 

So, what constitutes a good craft review? I've already shared one of mine, now here are some more by talented lensmasters on Squidoo. 

Mosaics provide super fun pattern crafts that preschoolers will love, and sweetheart8148 shares her experience with the fabulous Sticky Mosaic sets.

Play-Doh is always an instant winner with little ones, and you can have all kinds of fun and creative exploration using it. Seahorse60 has a few great ideas about ways you can use it in her review of the Play-Doh Mega Pack.

Finally, craft kits don't have to all be about cards and sparkles and foam shapes... they can come in the form of DIY gifts and objects for the home, too. ComfortsOfHome reviews this sweet Build a Birdhouse Kit, which is ideal for getting kids involved in gardening and wildlife as well as being creative! 

Squidoo is the perfect platform to share your craft reviews, tutorials and ideas - not only are you getting your creativity out there to inspire other parents and teachers, but you have the potential to earn some money for yourself or charity, too! 




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Friday, April 25, 2014

Romantic Movie Reviews: Persuasion and The Bridges of Madison County

Romantic movies are always in season, but on those rainy afternoons in spring, I simply love grabbing one or two of my favorite romance movies, popping them into the dvd player, settling down under a warm blanket and letting the romance of their stories wash over me.

As the rain drops are softly falling on the flower buds in my backyard, the awakening of love is unfolding on the screen.  For just a little while, I am resting and allowing my heart to absorb the nurturing effects of a fabulous love story.  

Like the flowers, we all need those rainy days and the tender time of restoration they provide.


Persuasion

Ibidii selected one of my own personal favorites to review when she wrote her article.
 
The movie Persuasion is packed with those heart stopping moments of unobserved love and longing so clearly evident to the viewers in the faces of the characters, but carefully hidden from the view of the object of their desire.  

A love that stood the test of time, separation & persuasion.


The Bridges of Madison County

I have long been an admirer of Clint Eastwood.  I even named my first dog after a character he dashingly played in an old western from my childhood days.  However, until I read a review of The Bridges of Madison County written by Freshstart7, I had never seen this particular movie.   

Because of her recommendation, I watched and experienced my own shower of tears over this movie.  

Ironically, I found it too was the story of a love the stood the test of time, separation & persuasion.  



Romantic Movies Reviewed

Some days seem to be made for romantic movies.  There are some movies we know that we will love when we see the trailers, or even the cover of the dvd.  But, there are others that are discovered because someone took the time to write a review, we separated ourselves from our daily schedules and were persuaded to encounter love. 




********************


If you have a review you would like to share, please leave the link in our guestbook below.

 
Don't Put Off Until Tomorrow,
What You Can Review Today!




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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nature Photography Class


Photography classes are a great way to enhance your skills as a photographer and to learn some new techniques.  I try to take a new class or seminar each year. I just started a new 6 week class on nature photography and over the next weeks I will share with you some of the tips that I have taken away from the class.

In our first class the instructor gave us an introduction to the class.  He first described his take on what comprises nature photography.  For him it is wildlife, panoramic scenes, and basically anything outdoors that does not involve the 'hand of man".  In the introduction we were given some guidelines on photo ethics.  A good photographer will respect the earth and leave the area in the same condition he found it.  Here are some of the points the instructor made.
  • Be concerned for the safety and welfare of the subject
  • Do not dig up plants
  • Don't trim or snap plants
  • Do not expose nests or handle babies
  • Do not lie!  Make your shot be authentic.
We were told that it is important to know your subject.  You can do this by taking the time to research your subject before you start photographing and to take the time to observe your subject.  For instance if you are trying to photograph butterflies take the time to learn a little bit about their habits and it will be much easier for you to find them and get a great photograph.  Many parks and wildlife areas will have pamphlets about their plants and wildlife that will give you hints on the best times to observe and photograph them.

The instructor also stressed the importance of knowing your camera.  He suggested sitting around at home and just taking photos of anything using all different settings just to get to know all the features on your camera.  In fact we have a homework assignment to photograph a ruler to learn how close our camera can focus.  We will  be doing this using each of our lenses.  We will then photograph the ruler outside with a zoom lens using both the shortest and the longest focal length at a F8 setting.  This will show us the difference in the backgrounds with each focal length.  Taking the time to learn the camera in this manner will help us to use the right settings when we are out in the field.

I am really looking forward to our next class next week and next Thursday I will again give you some tips from the class.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Baseball Managers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tony_La_Russa_May_2008.jpg
Tony La Russa
There have been a large number of famous baseball managers over the more than 150 years of Major League Baseball. Every baseball manager begins Spring Training each year with the same hopes & dreams for his team for the upcoming season. As Tony La Russa wrote “Opening Day of Baseball is magical. Sure, it's only Game 1 of the 162 games in the season, but it's more... a day of promise that there will be a winning season.”





St. Louis Cardinals Managers

 

https://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2017/08/one-last-strike-baseball-book-review.html
In his book One Last Strike, La Russa, the St. Louis Cardinals' longest running manager, tells us how he used his 33 years of managerial experience with 3 different teams to bring the Cardinals from virtual elimination to winning the World Series in 2011.


The Cardinals have had some of the best managers in all of baseball, including Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Tony LaRussa.   
 
CrossCreations reviews them for us in Cardinals Baseball Managers.


Casey Stengel


One of the most well-known baseball managers was Casey Stengel, who managed the New York Yankees from 1949 to 1960. During what was known affectionately as the 'Stengel Era' (1949 to 1953) the Yankees won the World Series five consecutive times. I remember being a pre-teen during the 1950s and thinking that the Yankees were the only team in town! :) 'It's the World Series – the Yankees will win!' Of course it also helped that I lived in New York State and was therefore a loyal NY Yankees fan! 



Hopes and Dreams of Baseball Managers


As we enter the third month of the 2019 MLB season, all managers – and the teams they lead – hold onto those hopes & dreams. Perhaps another magical season such as the one the St. Louis Cardinals had in 2011 awaits one of the 30 teams who began their seasons in April.

Review from the Review This!  Baseball Fan Contributor




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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mailboxology


Photo Credit: ©Renaissance Woman (aka Bird Legs)
What gives a home instant curb appeal?  For me, it’s always the little touches: a willow garden arbor; watching hummingbirds blissing out on red geraniums in window boxes; that classic rocker calling my name on the porch.

When I think first impressions, I always recall a teacher of mine who had the kind of front yard that made you want to stop and linger.  Her brand of curb appeal started less than six inches from the street.  It was always about the mailbox.  People went out of their way to see her latest creation.  I know because I was one of them... her mailbox groupies. 

Today, as I finished revitalizing a seriously sorry looking mailbox at the end of my country lane, I realized I was paying homage to that most extraordinary individual who taught me the true meaning of painting on a whole different kind of canvas.  I only wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to do something about the forlorn sight that greeted every visitor to my home. 

When does a mailbox become more than a mailbox?  It ceases to be a standard 6-inch x 18-inch receptacle when it becomes a means of celebrating life, personal expression, and the essence of home.  Thank you, my friend, for teaching me to see the potential in everything.  If there were such a thing as human curb appeal, its name and definition would be Carolyn.

Though my first mailbox renovation isn’t on a par with her works of art, I think she would be pleased that I went all out to create something whimsical.  Carolyn, more than anyone, understood that whimsy is good for the soul.  I hope my new mailbox makes someone, maybe you, smile on the inside. 

What kind of whimsy might you express today? 



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Monday, April 21, 2014

Experience the Mid-Atlantic Region a Few Steps at a Time.

Driving through the mid-Atlantic, you can get a bit of a feel for the beauty of the area.  This is especially true if you stray from the Interstate 95 corridor.  However, I don’t think a person can know what an area is like without pulling over and getting out of the car.

For example, I can say I’ve been to St. Louis, Missouri.  I’ve seen the arch.  But I drove through, looking out of the windows at 65 miles an hour.  Even though the kids (they were young then) put Nelly’s CD in the player all of the way through Missouri, and we watched from the windows pointing out different things to each other, I didn’t leave the state knowing the area.

A rugged portion of a Baltimore County, MD trail.
Getting outdoors in an area is the best way to know an area more intimately. I think hiking is the best way to do this.  Understand that I use the word “hike” loosely.  I say I hike.  But what I do is walk along paths for a short period of time.  I participate in what are called day hikes.  All through the mid-Atlantic there are great places to take day hikes.  There are great places to take even shorter walks.  Best of all, the Appalachian Trail runs through part of the mid-Atlantic region.  That means the best of the best hikers do section or thru-hikes here. In terms of trails, there is something for every level of hiker (walker) here.

A lush portion of the same trail.
Whatever type of hiker you are, I encourage you to get out there and see the land. It is possible to hike here in all four seasons, in a variety of terrains, and I love them all. 

MysticTurtle shares her thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT). While thru-hiking the AT is a very serious adventure, there are many places to jump on the trail and do a short hike.  Beginning hikers, like myself, can still enjoy sections of the AT trail.

Hiking more difficult terrain in western Maryland.
In 2012, Clare Lochary wrote an article for the Baltimore Sun, listing the 10 best Mid-Atlantic hikes for fall foliage viewing.  I’ve been to many of the places on Ms. Lochary's list and the rest are on my too-see list.  I agree with her list and think she’s chosen some really great places for day hikes, no matter the time of year.  Be advised, if you use her list, do some research because some of the entry fees may have increased. But the information in the list itself is very helpful.

I hope you find a way to get out and really experience an area, whether it’s the mid-Atlantic region or your own. The following photographs are from a few of my experiences in this area.



Walking the islands and beaches in the mid-Atlantic.

Hike the tidal rivers in Maryland.



Sidling Hill, Maryland in the wintertime.

Tidal marsh areas.

Michaux State Forest, PA


Near the Western Maryland/Pennsylvania state line.





Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)













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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Craft Egg-Citement!

Easter Blessings!


It's not too late to get crafting for Easter - we have been busy making little chicks, coloring in Easter bunny paper dolls and even making some little chocolate eggs of our own with a chocolate mold.  

The past week we have also made baskets for an egg hunt, and were lucky enough to attend a willow weaving workshop at our local zoo, where we learned how to make these bird nests pictured! These make a lovely Easter gift, with a knitted bird or two and some pretty foiled eggs. 

This time of year is a haven for crafty ideas - spring is in the air, nature is abundant with bits and bobs to use in crafting, and we have Easter and Earth Day to inspire us! Tomorrow we're going to combine the two events by recycling the pretty colored foil that my children's Easter hunt eggs were wrapped in (below), and using them to create some kind of object or collage. We've not decided yet! 

Squidoo is the perfect place to find Easter craft ideas, or to write your own how-to's and reviews! Whether you want inspiration for a craft, or want to see how you can share your own ideas, take a look at some of these terrific pages

Older preschoolers might like to help (or receive!) these Resurrection Easter Eggs, demonstrated by ideadesigns. And if you're all out of painting and decorating eggs enthusiasm by now, why not try something different, such as this great idea by prosperity66, who shows you how to make Easter Bells from plant pots!

Finally, I love this tutorial from KyraB. Now spring is here, we are itching to get gardening, and have been looking at making a fairy garden in a barrel and a terrarium. So her lens on How to Make a Christian Easter Planter seemed like perfect timing for getting crafty with planting, with an Easter theme!

I was delighted to see my Chick in Egg Easter Cards tutorial selected as Lens of the Day today! This is a great craft for little ones as you can keep it simple (a colored chick in a plain egg) or have fun decorating, coloring or painting it to the hilt! 

I am also delighted to have been blessed with the new regular position of Saturday poster for Review This, so from next weekend you will be able to find reviews, tips, inspirations and ideas from Little Crafty Kids here every week! 

Once again, have a Happy Easter, and happy crafting!  




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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Going Green for Earth Month

Hello Friends of the Earth!

I hope you have been enjoying Earth Month and finding fun activities that keep our planet clean and green. 

This month we're celebrating our Mother Earth, sharing ways to ensure the future of her health and promoting Nature Literacy. We've been having a great time!

And, we aren't the only ones having fun! Today, I'd like to introduce you to some friends that are committed to growing a healthy and green planet.

Let's start with healthy food for a healthy planet. Healthy food makes healthy bodies and we need healthy bodies to be good stewards of the earth. Graceonline starts her healthy journey by buying fresh foods and foods in bulk. She's not only reduced the paper and plastic garbage from her lifestyle, she's reduced packaged foods from her meals. Eating healthy isn't time-consuming, Graceonline has a great idea for a quick and easy meal.

One way to eat a healthier diet is to grow our own food. Grammieo knows that we don't have to spend a lot of time or have a lot of space to grow a garden. If you don't know much about gardening, Grammieo will get you started with her Basic Information for Newbie Gardeners.

It's easy being green, as RenaissanceWoman2010 shows us. Being green is a part of her everyday life. She's all about living off the grid and being self-sufficient. She shows us that we can stretch our garden growing season with her recommendations of Greenhouses To Build that are inexpensive and efficient.

Being green is also fun. MissMerFaery finds all kinds of ways to recycle everyday items into fun crafting projects for her and her children. Kids and adults will love to set sail on a sea of dreams with her tutorial on How to Make a Bottle Boat.

April 25th is Arbor Day, a day that celebrates Mother Earth's greatest recyclers, the trees. Trees recycle the air and the water. I love trees and being in the forest. But, I love living in the city. My town allows me to have my city living and enjoy my trees, too! The photo above is the street view from my new home. We are blocks from downtown and we are surrounded by trees. Urban forestry works in our town because homeowners take care to Plant the Right Tree the Right Way.

How are you spending your Earth Month?

Until next time, be safe and be well.

Coletta



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Friday, April 18, 2014

Your Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

In honor of a very special wedding, I invite your to share your best chocolate cake recipe. No, it's not my wedding. But, at my own wedding I did have a chocolate cake. Get real, would I have picked any other kind? I can think of no better time to enjoy chocolate than a wedding. Yes, lots of equally good times, but no better time.

Writers Share Their Best Chocolate Cake Recipes


How can you possibly think you can have enough chocolate cake recipes? If you love chocolate, like I do, you want to try lots of the best. So I've gathered some of those fabulous recipes here.

Moist and Delicious Chocolate Cake and Other Chocolate Recipes from seashell2. A nice list of some delicious chocolate cake ideas.

7 Amazing Chocolate Bundt Cakes You Can Make Yourself. nDee gives us all 7 including a vegan version and a whiskey-soaked chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake Recipes. Our very own Sylvestermouse shares her secrets to an amazing chocolate fudge cake.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug from enslavedbyfairies. 5 minutes to a great dessert idea.

Low Cholesterol Dark Chocolate Cake from acreativethinker. A yummy way to add more of that
healthy dark chocolate to our diets.

And the best one in my personal view, Decadent Chocolate Cake, (from some oddball writer called BuckHawk) because you can never get enough chocolate into one recipe.

Share Your Own Best Recipe


OK, you have looked at these recipes and plenty of others, and still say your chocolate cake recipe is the best. That's when you want to share it. You want to tell others about your very best chocolate cake recipe.

Amazingly enough, it's quite easy to do. You only need to know how to make your cake. List your ingredients, give the directions, and add in the extra information that makes your chocolate cake recipe the best ever.

No, it doesn't absolutely need to be a wedding cake. But if you have a recipe for a great chocolate wedding cake, we'd love to read about that, too.





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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photographing Spring Flowers

I love springtime with all of the beautiful flowers peaking out of the brown earth.  What a wonderful way to come out of the long, cold days of winter.  I would have a hard time picking a favorite flower but I would think that tulips would be close to the top followed closely by daffodils.  Here are some daffodils I photographed at a rest area in Tennessee in early April.








As I was browsing through Squidoo, I found this great lens by thewayeyeseeit, giving us tips on photographing spring flowers. http://www.squidoo.com/photography-tips-for-spring-flower-pictures.  He talks about perspective, timing, lighting, camera settings and much more.  You will also get to enjoy some of his beautiful photographs.

Happy Spring!  Hope you enjoy photographing all those beautiful flowers.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nature's Easter Eggs


Photo Credit: Natural Easter Eggs
You can color me green in terms of lifestyle, but healthy living is really a lovely palette of so many beautiful colors.  With Easter just a few days away, I’ve been considering how I want to apply the colors of the rainbow to create this year’s dyed eggs.  As I searched for holiday decorating ideas, I took a few scenic detours and started reading about chickens and their eggs.  When it comes to making gorgeous shells, the chickens are already several steps ahead of me.  I don’t even need to break out the dye.

As one who is on a quest to grow all of my own food, I currently have a fascination with raising backyard chickens.  My goal is to start with three laying hens this spring.  Along with the search for construction plans to build a chicken coop, I am thoroughly enjoying what I am learning about the different breeds of chickens. 

Did you know you can look at a chicken’s earlobe to potentially determine what color of egg she will lay?  I've not personally checked any earlobes to test that little tidbit of chicken trivia, but you can learn more by watching the short video clip presented in the first article linked below.  Wouldn’t it be fun if we had a similar way of seeing what our future children might look like?  But I digress. 

As I was saying before I interrupted myself, I now know why chickens produce different colored eggs, as well as which breeds to buy if I want to have delicious Easter eggs every day of the year.  Do you know which chickens lay blue, pink, green, or brown eggs?  I do now thanks to several interesting Squidoo articles. 

With the countdown to Easter, let’s have some fun by going on a virtual Easter egg hunt.  Read about Nature’s Easter Eggs and a very doable DIY backyard chicken coop.

Do you raise backyard chickens?  Have you built a hen house?  If so, I would love to read all about it.  Why not write a feature article or review of your top backyard chicken product.  I might even reward you with a basket of your favorite Easter candy.  So what will it be?  Mini robin's eggs?  Peeps?  Did I mention chocolate?



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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Learning through Crafts




Crafting with little ones is perfect for bringing out their creative side, nurturing their inner artist and exercising their imagination. But crafts can also be a wonderful learning tool in other ways as well.

As an unschooling home educator, I use play and art as part of the learning process. We learn and craft with the seasons, the things we see and do daily, and whatever interests my children currently have. 

Of course, right now it is coming up to Easter, so there are lots of beautiful spring, egg and other Easter themes in abundance! We have been making these chick in egg cards (left) to send to my daughter's friends and pen pals, a prime example of learning as we craft. The activity led to a discussion about the life cycle of the chicken, farms, and whether there are chicks in the eggs that we have in the fridge! 

We also belong to a home educators book club on Facebook, which has a different book to read every week or fortnight, and we incorporate lots of crafts and similar activities alongside the reading of the books. We've made stick people in the forest for Stickman (below left), play dough aliens (below centre) and a washing line full of colourful cut-out pants for Aliens Love Underpants (below right, which prompted a mini science lesson on the weather, how clothes get dry, and what we could use to "dry" our craft by representing the wind and sun). Not to mention Jack and the Beanstalk stick puppets, Room on the Broom peg dolls, Three Little Pig houses made of smoothie boxes - well, you get the idea! 




So, when you craft together, think about what other elements you can bring in to teach your child, to make learning fun! Even simple concepts like cutting paper or lacing beads (motor skills), counting out or measuring materials (maths), or trying out a new way of painting (art) are teaching key lessons.

Here are some ideas for the season for you! hlkljgk shows you how to dye eggs naturally for Easter in her Natural Egg Colouring lens. This activity combines craft with science, as you can explain the dyeing process and so on.

You can also get inspired by general craft ideas and apply an Easter theme. Here I show you How to Make a Shadow Puppet. You can teach children a basic history of shadow puppetry or the science of reflection and shadow, and create an Easter puppet show at the same time! 

Finally, why not inspire further crafting this Easter by popping a crafty gift egg inside your child's Easter basket? CorrinnaJohnson has some beautiful examples of these in her lenCrafty Non-Candy Easter Egg Surprises

Happy Easter, and happy crafting!  

  


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