Monday, June 30, 2014

Full Circles in a Kayak

It is funny, isn’t it, how things tend to come full circle?  Rather, not quite full circle, but a spiral, gently sloped upwards, returning to almost the same spot but one step better. One step forward in the adventure of living.

I have often thought that the act of living is represented in this spiral. You are either moving forward or backward in this spiral, but you are moving.  There are still the ups and downs, but you are moving. At this point in my life, I am moving up with little bits of synchronicity happening along the way.

I experienced this in full effect yesterday.

I went on my second adventure with my new kayak.  While unloading at the launch area, a wonderfully knowledgeable gentleman gave me some very good tips about paddling and about equipment.  He recommended lessons and recommended that I check out Shank’s Mare, in Pennsylvania, along with a few local places.

“Shank’s Mare” is a phrase I haven’t heard since my childhood, growing up in Northern Indiana – when I had many Amish friends. When asked how they were getting somewhere, they often replied “Shank’s Mare”; which meant they were walking.

Imagine my surprise hearing this Indiana phrase here just a few minutes outside of the city of Baltimore. 

This gentleman was referring to Shank’s Mare Outfitters.  He highly recommended that I check it out.  You can bet that I found it on the internet as soon as I returned home, and will indeed go up there and see what it’s all about.  Turns out that it is a lovely 1890’s era general store turned meeting place for hikers, kayakers, and cross-country skiers.  It is located between York and Lancaster Pennsylvania, in Wrightsville, PA on the banks of the Susquehanna River.

As we stood talking, the gentleman gave me stern information about kayak safety; wear a floatation device, be lit at night, take care with the weather, and so on.  Very similar warnings that I had just read the night before in How to Kill Yourself in a Kayak by magicman007.

Upon our return home, after my hours spent paddling around the back side of Gun Powder falls park – the free section near Hammerman Beach area – a young lady approached us in the parking lot.

Her company is relocating her to the area, and she’s trying to find a suitable apartment near areas suitable for water sports, specifically kayaking. She wanted to know what we thought of this apartment complex and where did we go kayaking? Somewhere close? Yours truly went from someone who often explores the area solo to a personal tour guide to a young lady from Ohio.  I drove her past a few areas, including through the Hammerman Beach area.  Her excitement was palpable and she occasionally clapped her hands quietly, when turning corners and seeing the water views.  She took off her flip-flops and stood in the wet sand while we talked about the area in general.

If she teared up, like this Midwest girl did when deciding to live here, I didn’t see it. I was too much in awe of the coincidence of the Ohio girl driving past the Indiana-turned-mid-Atlantic girl at the exact moment we were unloading the kayak.  And how lucky I was to show one of these mid-Atlantic gems to someone in person.

I hope she enjoys the mid-Atlantic region as much as I do. 







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



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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Patriotic Party Time

Happy Independence Day! 
As Independence Day approaches, I am both excited and a bit sad. It's always been sort of the halfway point for summer and I am NOT ready for Summertime to end. So, I am choosing to focus on the holiday and summer parties instead. Come along for some great ideas and suggestions from our Squidoo lensmasters.

Patriotic Parties Rock!

A patriotic theme is perfect for Memorial Day, Labor Day, and of course, Independence Day. However, it's also perfect for almost any summer celebration. You could use a patriotic theme for events like:
  • Family Reunions
  • Graduations
  • Retirement Parties
  • Picnics
  • School Reunions and so much more.
It really is a perfect theme all summer long. Let's look at some ideas for patriotic parties from lensmasters. 

What Say You, Squidoo? 

Starting with lensmaster angelastvs, we get a great overview and party suggestions. From decorations to games to food, she has included lots of ideas in her lens titled: Patriotic Party Planning

Partybuzz has some great ideas for a budget-friendly party. In her lens, How to Plan a July 4th Party on a Budget, she shares some of the ideas she uses with her own family parties. From centerpieces and decorations on through activity ideas -- all are easy on the wallet. 

Finally, Michelle_L shares ideas from her own 4th of July party. Grilling out, crafts and more food and decorations are suggested in this fun lens titled: 4th of July Party Ideas -- Recipes, Crafts and Decorations.

What About You? 

Do you have some summer fun family traditions incorporating a patriotic theme? For example, I shared my family's patriotic buffet at the beginning of summer. We'd love to hear about them! Join Squidoo and write your own suggestions and recommendations for free! As the Party Planning Contributor on Squidoo, I'll help you anyway I can as well as promote your party lens(es). 

It's all about sharing and helping. Happy Independence Day, America! 



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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Going to Disney? Save your memories!

disney scrapbook memory autograph book
Child Holding a handmade Disney Memory Book
©Mickie Goad
Some of you might be heading to Disneyworld or Disneyland soon--or maybe you know someone who is dreaming about taking the trip to this magical world.

A visit to this wonderland for children will be remembered for a lifetime so you should think about a way to preserve and collect these memories.

A few years ago, my husband and I decided to visit the Orlando park because 6 of our 7 grandchildren were headed there during the same week! Oh my goodness! How could we NOT go?

I decided I wanted to create a handmade autograph and memory book for my precious babies. I had a definite project in mind and I did a lot of thinking about how I could make the best scrapbook for them.

That memory book had to be big enough to hold a one photograph on a page. Hmmm. That meant the book had to be at least 4"x6".  The book should not be too big, however, as it must fit in a mom's purse or a backpack.  I wanted the pages in the book to be thick enough so that a pen would not bleed through to the other side of the page. I decided that the book should have a spiral binding so it could open wide enough for the "characters" to easily hold it and sign it, too.


disney scrapbook autograph memory book
One of the Finished Handmade Disney Autograph Books
©Mickie Goad

As you can see, Goofy had no trouble holding the memory book for two of my grandchildren. My grand-daughter had been to the "Princess Beauty Salon", by the way. Her hair is NOT curly.
Goofy signing the Disney Memory Book for my grandchildren. ©Mickie Goad


 The image below is how I dreamed the book would be used: notice the photo above the autograph! Yes, I gave my grandchildren something of value.

disney scrapbook autograph book
Chip -n-Dale Memory from Disneyworld ©Mickie Goad


If you want to see how I created the Disney Memory Books, you can visit two of my pages: How to Make a Disney Memory Book and Create a Child's Disney Memory Book.

The first page is where I made the original books that were red. The second page was written last year when the 7th grandchild got to go to Disneyworld. I let her help make the scrapbook and you can see what a fun project it was by clicking the "Create a Child's Disney Memory Book" link above.

I hope I have inspired you to make your own journals or scrapbooks to hold all those memories you create on your travels to that wonderful world of magic!

Going to Disney does take some planning!




Photo and content Credits: ©Mickie Goad
Do not use without permission



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Friday, June 27, 2014

Cooking for the 4th of July

Family and friends gather in our home every year to watch the 4th of July fireworks and celebrate Independence Day.  Long before dark and fireworks, the table is always laden with a variety of food in order to accommodate the various preferences, health issues and diets.


Appetizers  to Start

 

Fruit is the one food choice we all have in common and is part of every holiday menu.  However, for our 4th of July celebration, we also get to include Watermelon and Cantaloupe.  We have several family members who enjoy creating shaped bowls from the watermelon rind and filling it with a variety of fresh fruit balls and berries.  Ct_mom shows us all how to do that in her article Fun Carved Watermelon Ideas.  She even included how to make a watermelon keg in her article, which is something I have never done before and would love to try myself this year.



Main Course for Our 4th of July Meal

 

http://food.squidoo.com/homemade-barbeque-recipe-for-the-best-barbeque-sandwiches
For many years now, I have made my own special barbeque recipe for sandwiches simply because it is my husband's favorite sandwich meal.  

For our vegan daughter, we will prepare Grilled Black Bean Burgers.   I was rather excited to discover that Black Bean Burger recipe by Tvyps since I am always searching for a meat alternative to serve for our daughter.



Drinks & 4th of July Dessert 



http://sylvestermouse.hubpages.com/hub/4th-of-July-My mother always brings the 4th of July Flag Cake.  She started making that cake for the 4th of July when I as a little girl.  Here we are decades later and it is still a family favorite.  

I also make homemade, fresh squeezed lemonade for our gathering.  My lemonade recipe is really very easy to prepare and is the most requested summertime drink in our home, but it is always fun to add a little fun to the mix with Mocktails by hlkljgk.




Write & Share Your 4th of July Recipes


The Fourth of July celebration is truly a blast in our home!   I am always looking for new ideas and recipes to serve and share.  

If you have a recipe for the 4th of July celebration that you would like to share, simply leave your link in the guestbook below.   



If you are planning a party for the 4th of July, you will definitely want to visit "Patriotic Party Time" for a wealth of suggestions and tips.




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Thursday, June 26, 2014

What should I Photograph?

I am always looking for different things to photograph.  In this photo I found a bin of gourds at a farmers market and thought they looked interesting.  I tried to get in close to get the details in the gourds.

Pets are always fun to photograph.  Try to look in to their eyes in the photograph.  I know that is easier said than done many times.

In this photo, I got my brothers dog, Jessie to sit still and look at me as I took her photo.

Wild animals are fun to photograph too.  I often sit by my sliding doors with a longer lens camera and take photos of birds, squirrels and rabbits in my backyard.






Have you ever been stuck for an idea of something to photograph?  A good way to get out of this kind of funk is to view the photography of other people.  On this page Pat Goltz gives you some really different ideas of things to photograph Think Photography .  I love the way she looks at subjects.  She comes up with some amazing photographs. In this article she shows you weird items to photograph and ways to use filters on ordinary objects to make them look different.  Stop by and read Pat's lens for some real motivation.

When you photograph nature try to find ways to make your photograph different.  Look for a flower after the rain or perhaps some leaves catching the falling snow.  Here are two photographs where I captured nature with the elements.



Shadows can make an ordinary item look unique in a photograph.  Notice the long shadows of the old plow in the snow.




There are an endless number of things to photograph in this world.  Just look around you, use your imagination and your creativity.  If you are stuck on what you should photograph next, take a look at this lens by danthemans Photography Ideas.  On this page he gives you lots of ideas to spark your imagination and motivate you.

No matter what type of camera you use whether a camera phone, point and shoot or DSLR it is the ideas that you have that make the photo.  Take the time to look at the world around you through the lens of a camera.  It will give you a greater appreciation for this amazing world.


Happy Photographing!




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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rescue Me


How does a dog like Golden Girl end up in a shelter?
Several years ago, when I had just entered an exhilarating phase of my career, the pastor of my church, who was also a member of my advisory board at work, said something I’ve never forgotten: “You are a rescuer, Diana.”

It seems this man of the cloth saw something in me that I had not yet discovered for myself.  At the time, Pastor M. was speaking about how I had this need to save everyone who was struggling in life.  So much of my creative energy was invested in finding ways to help at risk youth, the illiterate, victims of any kind of violence, or anyone who was experiencing hopelessness.  To see someone suffer split me wide open to the core.

I said back then that I never wanted to become cynical or callous in the face of need, for I saw so many individuals burn out over the years and grow hardened.  I suspect caring deeply, in the face of overwhelming odds, can lead one to grow protective layers of defense.  Each of us, in painful situations, finds our own way of coping with that which we cannot change.

Why do I share this?  I suspect it is on my mind this morning as I reflect on the kind of rescue in which I am primarily engaged in this season of life: animal rescue.  It is heart-breaking work that often crushes those who give it their all.  At the same time, there are incredibly beautiful moments of fulfillment.

In attempting to save the lives of horribly abused and neglected animals, I meet the most amazing people.  Though some of them are scarred by years of seeing things that keep them awake every single night, every rescuer, though perhaps no longer whole in terms of peace of mind, reminds me of the goodness that is an antidote to some of the horrors present in the world today.

I just published a review of Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt.  David and his wife, Debbie, have saved the lives of over 4,000 dogs.  They have opened up their home to more than 300 dogs that didn’t have a chance of survival.  The animals they rescue are headed for the kill chamber mainly because they are old or have some type of medical need.

Thank heavens for those who choose to alleviate the suffering of others.  May we appreciate the sacrifices made in the name of compassion and may we be the comfort in someone’s day today.



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Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Heat Safety

Saturday, June 21, 2014 was the first day of summer here in the U.S. Here in the Baltimore area, we have already had a couple of days of high heat and humidity with the accompanying heat and air quality warnings. This small heat wave has reminded me to be prepared for the summer weather, especially during my outdoor mid-Atlantic adventures. 

Harpers Ferry looking down on the Shenandoah
Approximately two summers ago, I wanted my son to see Harpers Ferry, WV. It was an extremely hot day, perhaps the hottest that year, but we still went.  He had been assigned to this area for a few years and I wanted him to see some of my favorite places before he moved away. 

Harpers Ferry is a historic town tucked in where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.  As we walked from the bottom area, near the train station parking lot, up the steep, old stone stairs, I began to feel weak.  My son and the Mister were still just marching along in their way. It is typical that I bring up the rear but this time was different.  I started to need extra rest breaks.  I started to feel light-headed and woozy.

My son took over.  He kept instructing me on things such as take a sip of water, sit down, take another sip of water, head down, drink more water, and all the while he was dribbling water on my head. At least I think that he was.  Maybe it was the Mister. Or maybe they were telling me to do it.  It’s all a little foggy.

Wow. I felt horrible. I felt cold and hot at the same time, my vision was funny, I felt nauseous, and I felt as though I would faint. At some point I felt hot and did not feel like I was sweating as much.  I was not familiar with these signs. My son was.  Thank goodness. I am familiar with the signs now and I take the heat seriously.

Please learn the signs of heat sickness, it may save your life. The CDC gives us great information about symptoms and treatment. 

With their close attention, time sitting in the shade, water on me and in me, I began to feel better enough to walk back to the bottom. We got into the Jeep and ran the air conditioner.  I quickly felt much improved.

Even if you are experienced with outdoor adventures, are aware of the signs of heat exhaustion, and typically are prepared you can still become overcome by the heat.  Off Grid Survival gives us a clear example of a seasoned hiker who could have had a tragic outcome when hiking on a hot day. Thank goodness he was found and successfully treated. 

I have considering purchasing a hydration pack (basically a water bottle that you carry on your back like a backpack) but I’m pretty fussy about my water tasting like rubber or plastic.  Squidoo writer nextyear reviews a camelbak pack that does not taste rubbery.

Ramkitten teaches us how to hike in the oven-hot heat of the GrandCanyon.  I am fairly certain if I follow her tips for Arizona in the summer, I should be fine in the Mid-Atlantic heat.

Finally, for those of us who take our furry family members with us on the trails or other outdoor activities in the summer heat, Ruthi reminds us how to keep our dogs safe in the summer heat. 


Summer is here.  Let’s be safe and have fun.


Image Credit: Image is mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved 





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Sunday, June 22, 2014

"I Don't Have Time to Write Online"

Contrary to popular belief, writing online does NOT require giving up anything/everything else in your life. We all have busy lives but write online to help others. As contributors at Squidoo, we do not spend 24/7 there writing and updating. We all have many tasks on our plates. It's about balance, sharing and truly wanting to share.

What Info Are People Looking For?

Internet searchers are always looking for information about their hobby, passion or even job. Whether it's ideas, suggestions or learning what others do when faced with a similar situation, we all seek assistance through the internet. Squidoo is filled with helpful information and people.

Here on the Review This! website, we have Squidoo contributors that write about a variety of topics. We share our real world experiences -- successes and those not so successful -- to help our fellow man/woman. In order to have those experiences, we have to have a life outside of our writing online life.

Life Outside the Internet

Of our Review This! authors for instance, two of us have recently moved into new homes; one recently returned from a wonderful vacation; another has been dealing with a physical ailment; one is working toward a professional license; another building room additions to her home and still another was busy with her Mother-of-the-Bride duties!

Yes, life goes on but it's the everyday choices, problems and events that make-up the fodder for our online writing. When you write about something you have experienced or are passionate about, your writing is much more natural and draws a reader in to your topic.

On Review This!, we have contributors in niche topics such as gardening, kids crafts, photography, kid's books, chocoholics, romance, home renovating and green living, travel, holiday cooking, recycling, baseball, glue gun crafting and parties and events.

Whew! That's a lot of topics but they are truly a passion of each of us -- that's why and how we can write about our respective niches.

Now it's Your Turn

Go on, give it a try! It's easy to write on Squidoo and it's free. The editor is easy to use and you will find lots of help for any questions you might have. Write something. You may find it addicting!



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Friday, June 20, 2014

Time Travel Romance Books

Summer is definitely upon us and it is time to pack for our vacation.  I always carry a tote bag containing a few new romance novels to read while riding in the car or reclining on the beach.  

I didn't have to go very far for romance book recommendations before I found two book reviews that immediately grabbed my attention.

Since I don't normally read time travel books, I am really excited to venture into this new area.  After all, I am still amazed that the Hunger Games trilogy fed my romantic books appetite.  So, why not time travel too?

Now I ask you, who wouldn't want to travel back in time and experience a heart pounding romance?



The Time Traveler's Wife



TanjaCrouch wrote the movie review for The Time Traveler's Wife, but while reviewing the movie, she also reviewed and recommended the book.  

When I read her words, "You can feel the love between Clare and Henry which makes some of the scenes truly heartbreaking", I knew I had to read this book.  

Couple that with the idea of meeting your future husband when you are a child and waiting to grow up so you can meet him, well now that is just too romantic!

Fortunately, I will be traveling with my husband and he is accustomed to seeing me cry over books.



Outlander

LNAngel captured my attention and intrigued me immediately with the title of her review:  Outlander: The Only Book Series I Can Read Again & Again.  When someone tells me they can read a book over and over again, I know it has to be a fabulous book. 

I also like history and I love a book that takes place in the past, especially if it is historically correct.  

Ok, a married woman finding love and romance through time travel?  I don't know what to think at the moment, but I was so impressed with LNAngel's review that I have ordered the book for my Kindle and I will be reading it very soon.  







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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Photographing your Vacation

I recently took a course on travel photography and the instructor gave some valuable advice on taking photos when you travel.  He said the first thing you needed to do is to decide on the purpose of your photography.  He suggested three possible goals.


  • Document your trip
  • Document your destination
  • Just take great photos
If you are looking to document your trip than you want to have lots of photos that include you and the people you travel with.  You would document what you are doing and with whom.  This is a very common form of photography for many amateur photographers, some of which only get out their camera out at vacation time. This is a great way to capture those memories to enjoy in the future.


Other people want to really capture the essence of the places they visit.  They will spend a lot of time making sure that they photograph all of the sites in the place they are visiting.


The third group is people who don't care as much about the documentation as they do taking great picks.  Many "Photo Enthusiasts" fall into this group.




Vacation time is a great time to take photographs and with a bit of advance research you can make sure you get some wonderful photos that will meet your photo goals.  Here are some things you should consider.


  • Research your destination ahead of time. There are many great books on travel destinations at the library or you can research your location on the internet for lots of great information.  Find out about events or festivals that might be taking place when you are there.  Identify iconic structures that you would like to photograph.  Make sure you understand the weather and are prepared for it.  
  • Pack you camera equipment carefully.  Make sure it is all in working order before you leave.  Bring extra batteries and memory cards.
  • When you get to your destination talk to people about where you want to visit and places to photograph.  Some good sources of information are hotel lobby clerks, employees of restaurants and shops and cab drivers.  Be sure to check out the brochure racks in the hotels.  If you are driving I have found the the information centers as you enter each state are a great source of information.



Photos on this page are all from a trip I took to Jupiter Florida last March.  They show the three types of photography goals for travel.



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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Handmade Dolls from Upcycled Materials

Dolls create special magic for children and adults, especially when those dolls are lovingly made by hand. The writers on Squidoo share their secrets to doll-making success with projects for a Tin Can Man, a Lalaloopsy Rag Doll, a Japanese bottle doll and doll clothes made from a sock.

Dolls were a memorable part of my childhood. My Dad Was an International Traveler when I was a kid and he brought me a doll from every country he visited. My mom taught me to sew and one of our favorite mother-daughter sewing projects was a set of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy rag dolls.

When I was selected as the Recycler Contributor on Squidoo, I wasn't too sure what to do about a logo for The Recycler Network's social media channels. I grabbed an assortment of recycled and upcycled items found around my home, arranged those items artfully on the kitchen counter and started shooting pictures.

One of the items I grabbed was a doll that my aunt had made for me many years ago. She's only 6 inches tall but she's 100% recycled. From her button arms and legs to her hand-me-down dress, her sock stuffed body and her yarn scrap hair. She begged to be the mascot for The Recycler Network.


If the traditional rag doll is more to your liking, chibikitty shows us How to make a Lalaloopsy Rag Doll and even supplies a free pattern to make it even easier to create your own rag doll.



Until next time, share the love and give the gift of a handmade doll!

Coletta



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Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Turn An Ordinary Rock Into an Oil Lamp

Yes, you can make a rock into a lamp like the one seen here. My friend, Shelley, recently published a tutorial, Caveman Lamp for a Modern Table, on Hubpages and I would love to share it with you.

Shelley used to work for a "home and garden" magazine and learned a great deal about crafting home decor during her tenure there.

It might be hard to believe that my friend (who is a real lady) made this de-light-ful lamp from an ordinary rock. In her tutorial, Shelley shows you exactly what products she used to craft this cozy lamp. I will tell you that on a scale of 1 (easy) to 10 (difficult), this project will probably be a 5. Having the help of a resident "caveman" would come in handy, I am sure. Shelley also makes recommendations for products to use for making this oil lamp. Her step-by-step instructions make this craft project a do-able one.  I honestly think that even this "Wilma" could make a rock into an oil lamp without the help of a "Fred, but I am really quite handy. My husband might not realize this fact because I allow him to believe that he is the head caveman.

I can just picture a set of these rock oil lamps on the railing of my deck. Shelley says that one can use citronella oil in the reservoir to ward off bugs if you use these lamps for outdoor lighting. Ah, the bug free atmosphere is already calling me to find some rocks and get drilling!









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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Release Your Inner Chocolate Story Teller

Riddle me this, Batman. What's special about chocolate for you? Well, let go and tell your chocolate story. Allow that child in you to release the joy. In my mind, chocolate is about joy, so you are going to get the benefit of my story.

My story will be part example for you, and part my own release of that inner story teller. As your favorite chocoholic, I get to share my joy with many.

My Chocolate Story


Every summer of my childhood, we traveled to my grandmother's home. For years, she had ready my older sister's favorite, butter pound cake. Then one year, she made a Devil's Chocolate Cake. I remember clearly that first bite. The creamy texture on my tongue, the indulgent flavor on my taste buds, the immediate need to have more. I was hooked.

Oh, yes, Gramma's Devil's Chocolate Cake was one of those highlights of my summer from then on. She even joked that her cake was more important to me than her. Uhhh...no wait, it really was a joke.

But, that memory still joyfully bounds around my brain whenever I see a chocolate cake of any kind. Whether that was my first introduction to chocolate, I don't know. I do know it was my first memory of eating that yummy confection. And I will be forever grateful to Gramma for giving it to me.

Go Ahead, Release Your Own Story


My story was about a memory. Yours maybe, also. But it doesn't have to be. It can be about anything
that makes chocolate special for you.

Easy Chocolate Mousse by Jodi_K includes her story. A young girl who could even make dessert for the family. Honestly, this looks like my kind of chocolate dessert.

If you have a great story, share it. It doesn't need to be a dessert recipe, it can be any story about your own inner chocolate... Er, inner chocolate story teller. Anyway, write your own story, with or without recipe and let me know. You may just find yourself featured by this chocoholic!




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Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Crafting Fairytale

It's funny what leads you to a topic or theme when you're blogging, or crafting, or generally doing anything, really! A few weeks ago, we were doing a fun treasure hunt at forest school and the group leader was particularly impressed with my daughter's reading skills (she was able to read all the descriptive words on her treasure box that she had to find on the forest floor). She mentioned it to her colleague and he had a lovely discussion about books with my daughter - far from making her feel a little bit odd at being able to read fluently aged 4, as so many people tend to do, he was really enthusiastic and told her how he also taught himself to read at an early age and went on to read The Hobbit aged 6. Inevitably, with both of us being big fairy and fantasy fans, her curiosity reared itself some time later and I showed her the book in question, read snippets of the story to her, and a new love of hobbits was born. So when I stumbled across the delightful Hobbit Crafts for Kids and Adults by Hobbity, I suddenly found myself on a quest for more fantasy and fairytale crafts, to pull together a week of fun crafting activities!

We also discovered Frozen for the first time recently, so that was naturally next on my project list. I'd already planned to make some rock trolls with my daughter, after finding some perfect pebbles on our recent forest walk, and we had to work Olaf in somewhere as she loved him so much (I don't think I have ever heard her giggle quite so loud as when Anna puts his head on upside-down!). We had a ball making all manner of things and I am currently working on putting them all into a lens, which will include all of our own creations plus a hand-picked selection of our favourite projects from around the web.

Next up, the topic just HAD to be fairies. I love them, my daughter loves them, we go hunting for them in the woods and leave pine cone offerings at the "fairy tree" near our house. How could we not embark on some fairy crafts? There is no shortage of magical ideas on Squidoo, and we particularly enjoyed looking at how to Make Your Own Fairy Wings by relache, Making a Fairy House from natural materials and a plastic bottle by Malina123, and how to make Tiny Fairy Dolls by lbrummer.

Enchanting and engaging for the little kid and the big one!

Photo Credit: Image from Pixabay




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Friday, June 13, 2014

I am the Weekend Gardener Contributor

Hi, I'm known as GrammieO and I am the Weekend Gardener Contributor.


Let me put this right out there:  I am not happy unless I have some dirt stuck under my fingernails at some point in the day! 
  
There I’ve said it.  Now this doesn’t mean that I go around with dirty hands or anything like that, but the feel of the earth on my hands is like a salve that takes all my troubles away.
  
Short of Parenthood, I don’t know of any other miracles that we are allowed to partake in.  Parenthood lets you (two) become the makers of a new life. 
  
Gardening lets you take a little seed, with all its Genetic Materials wrapped tightly inside it, and nurture it to life as a plant, that will bear many more seeds just like itself.
  
Gardeners help to color the world with their own special brand of flowers and help feed our families and friends with the abundance, from our gardens.
  
I have been a gardener for a very long time.  My parents started us off, by making us help weed the vegetable gardens.  Our home grown tomatoes were the best!  While I was young, I’m not sure that I had the same appreciation for getting my hands dirty.  Over the years though, that has changed.
  
I love to garden, help other people learn about gardening, encourage others to try something new and share all the beauty that is out there.  Come join me and a great bunch of others, as we learn and grow, not only our gardens, but also our minds, bodies and souls.
  
After all,  I think that was how I was made the Weekend Gardener. I have two lists of gardening tools and products that need to be reviewed and I would welcome you to join in the fun.  Tell us what you like about any one of the things you see on either list, write about your experiences and I will make sure that everyone sees what you have to offer.  I will promote your writings on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest so that all your great ideas will be shared.


Gardening has been a passion of mine for the last 40 years or more. Now don't start adding the years to figure out how old this Grammie is....cause I'll tell you!  I will be 60 this coming 4th of July, so get the fireworks ready.

I love to share gardening ideas, tools, plants, best practices and anything else that makes gardening more enjoyable.

When I find something I like, I share it on our Weekend Gardeners Page on Facebook

I will also Pin it on Pinterest


And not to be forgotten Google +




If you have something that would interest other Gardeners, please don't hesitate to reach out and let me know.  I'm only too happy to spread around the beauty that I find in nature.

Come and check out some of the best ways to make things grow in your garden, right here!

As well as having dirt under your fingernails, you will end up with so many interesting ways to make your garden a beautiful place.


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Thursday, June 12, 2014




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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Coffee Emergency!


Photo Credit
How far would you go for a cup of hot coffee?  This weekend, when my electricity was out, the thing that bothered me most was the inability to use my coffee maker to brew a pot of the elixir of life.  Seriously, I live for my early morning java. 

As for me, I drove nearly 60 miles for my cuppa joe yesterday at the crack of dawn.  Might sound kind of extreme, but I’m not lukewarm when it comes to coffee.  Freshly brewed coffee is essential to starting my day off right. 

I wasn’t prepared for a coffee emergency the past couple of days, but I will be next time.  As an avid camper, I always have canisters of propane on hand.  If I had already stocked the Coleman Propane Coffee Maker in the pantry, I would have been all set.  In 15 minutes I would have been savoring a latte brewski.  It’s just not right to weather a storm without one.

Check out this award-winning review of the Coleman Coffee Maker by kristalulabelle84.  I’m not sure how I have survived without this no-more-coffee-emergencies appliance.  Though I appreciate a rustic, woodsy lifestyle, there are limits to roughing it.  Why deprive yourself of the one little luxury that can make or break your next adventure (whether on the road or at home)? 



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Monday, June 9, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Region: Choosing an Ideal Place for a Brief Vacation

Snow and snow days were the topic of discussion during the entire mid-Atlantic 2013 - 2014 winter season.  It seemed the students were out of school more than they were in school.  Even though the snow and cold is long gone, it is difficult to stop thinking about the topic of inclement weather and snow days.

Our schools have been left scrambling to make-up all of these educational hours that were lost. Some schools have applied for waivers for make-up days, so that fewer days need to be squeezed into the calendar somewhere. All schools have adjusted their calendars.  The last day of school has been pushed later by several days to a week, or more, in almost all districts.

I am sharing this information because it impacts summer vacation and travel. Both time available and plans that had already been made. It is also heavy on my mind because special education schools that already have an “extended year” program (the equivalent of summer school as a part of the normal curriculum) seem to be taking a really heavy hit.

In other words, because I work in an extended year school setting, I am only having a long weekend as a break for our first summer break. You see, we typically have 7 - 14 days off in June and a slightly longer break in the late summer, before the public school year resumes.  
Overlook at Green Ridge State Forest


Like most humans, because I feel restricted, I suddenly want it all.  I can’t stop thinking about what I could be doing if I had the time.  We have so many highly rated places to see and things to do in this area.  I’ve only scratched the surface of things to see and I want to return to every one of the places I’ve already experienced.

Only one long weekend for break. Oh the decisions I need to make.

I could head to the mountains for a week of primitive camping and hiking at Green Ridge State Forest in western Maryland. A place so beautiful and diverse that I would live there if I could.

I could head to the beach, dig my toes into the warm sand, and hang out with the ponies at Assateague Island.  Of course, this time I would stop and sit a spell at the beautiful visitor center on my way in.

Maybe I will finally book my maiden visit at the Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campgound. I rarely want to stay at a campground that isn’t primitive tent camping, but I really want to stay here.

orchids at Longwood Gardens
Or I could finally visit the New River Gorge area in West Virginia via Adventures on the Gorge, which is a high priority place on my bucket list. My son went white water rafting there and had nothing but good things to say. I can't wait to go for myself. I may or may not be brave enough for white water rafting, luckily there are many things to do and see in that area.  

Maybe I’ll wander back up to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania for a picnic among the flowers and fountains with stop by at Brandywine Museum and to remind myself of the talent of Andrew Wyeth on the way home.

water sports at Hammerman
Fortunately, if all else fails, I will be able to use that long weekend (provided it doesn’t snow – just kidding!) at one of my favorite Baltimore county parks such as Hammerman or Pretty Boy Reservoir.  Maybe I will be able to get my new Kayak into the water. 

You see, I want to do it all. The fewer days I have, the more I want to do.  Whether it is a week long vacation a good distance from home, a staycation near home, or a quick day trip just around the corner, there are so many great places to see in the mid-Atlantic. These are only a few. 



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







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Sunday, June 8, 2014

June is Wedding Month!

I love weddings anytime of year but June holds a special place in a bride's heart. I thought I would look around at what helpful information and ideas Review This has to offer a bride, groom, mother-of-the-bride, mother-of-the-groom or other host of a wedding celebration.

Weddings

Let me just say, Review This does weddings up right and even has a category just for weddings. The main category is broken down again to 17 different sub-categories. This makes it so much easier for a bride (or whomever) to find just the right information for anything to do with weddings.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work but can be a lot of fun as well. Gathering ideas and suggestions and then sifting through them can inspire your own unique ideas.

Maybe you are stuck for music ideas for the ceremony?   Or, perhaps you need some inspiration for your personal wedding vows. Reading what others did can unleash a person's creativity.

You can find help with wedding flowers, traditions, general planning and more. Themed weddings are very popular. Seeing what others did may spark something new and different for yourself.

On a budget? Got you covered there too! Budget Weddings is filled with ideas you can incorporate to keep costs under control.

Everything from music to vows to food and reception decor -- you name it and we have it covered! It is a wonderful resource brides and other make use of everyday!

If you are planning a wedding, or have a friend or relative planning a wedding that could use some inspiration, point them to Review This. The wealth of information makes it invaluable. Best of all: It's FREE!


It's almost summer -- jump right in, the water's great!



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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gruffalo Crumble

Proof that we really do get out and about (and crafty) whatever the weather - today we attended a special party for the Gruffalo, to celebrate his 15th birthday! 

Despite rumbles of thunder and a torrential downpour of rain, we still had great fun and enjoyed all the activities, including (naturally!) some forest crafts. 

We made a few Gruffalo things, including a lovely log birthday badge, but our favourite activity of the day was making a clay Gruffalo using a mixture of craft and forest materials. 

You can make one at home if you have some air drying clay, salt dough or similar! 


1. Roll a large ball of clay for the Gruffalo's body, and a small one for his head. Secure together with a stick if necessary

2. Add two googley eyes (ideally orange, like in the book) and a tiny green pom pom for the poisonous wart on the end of his nose! 

3. Cut a purple pipe cleaner into small pieces, bend in half, and press into the back of your clay figure, for those "purple prickles all over his back"

4. Use two pieces of pine cone or bark to make his ears

5. Find some sticks with bumpy bits to give him legs with "knobbly knees", and some more sticks for his arms

6. Find some small pieces of twig, bark, leaves or other forest objects to give him his terrible teeth, and his black tongue! 

7. If using air drying clay, leave overnight and it should be hard by the following day

Do you have a great craft tutorial to share? Why not create a How To page on Squidoo? As the Little Crafty Kids Contributor, I'm always on the lookout for fabulous new craft ideas, and I'll be sharing all the best how-to's and reviews on the LCK Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

Happy crafting!  

(c) All photos copyright of the author





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Friday, June 6, 2014

Garden Decor Project: Make a Mosaic Pot

handcrafted mosaic pot
Mosaic Pot by Mickie_G
A few summers ago, I made the mosaic pot you see to the left at a workshop sponsored by Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama.

Ever since I was a child, I have loved creating crafts that involved tile. I remember my mother taking me to the hobby shop every year just before our annual summer visit to my grandmother. My mom knew that if she let me pick out a craft kit, I would not get bored. More often than not, I chose a mosaic kit.

I still remember the 6" circular dish I made with prayerful hands in the middle. The kit came with enough 1/4 inch square tiles for me to play with the design if I did not want to make one just like the example on the box lid. I usually I ended up choosing a checkerboard pattern.  These mosaic craft kits filled my days with much happiness and gave my parents a vacation from entertaining me, I imagine. But enough reminiscing!

I won't go into how I made the mosaic pot shown in the images on this page, but I will share with you some things I did learn about tile covered pots:


  • Do not leave your mosaic pot outside during the winter months as the freezing temperatures will cause the pot to break and the mosaic pieces to fall off.
  • If you use broken dishes or crockery, it is best to use totally flat pieces if you use larger, broken bits.  It is easier to rub off the grout if there are no sharp points that are higher than your decorative shards. You can see in the photo below that I used some broken pieces from a plate. I should have trimmed the sharp points on the edges off. 
  • To break up dishes and crockery, put them between several sheets of newsprint before you break them up with a small hammer. 
  • If you want to preserve the pattern as it is on the dish, use duck tape on the back of the dish before you break it into pieces.
  • Try to fit the "tiles" close together as possible but still leave enough room for the grout. I think I left too much space so there is a lot of grout space. 
  • Wear a mask to mix up your dry grout and powdered mastic. This is a MUST!
  • Gloves for your hands are another must when rubbing in the grout. Surgical ones work best. 

Close up of my mosaic pot. 

mosaic craft 
I used glass globs and a broken dish. 
Can you see the buttons, too?


I am a "keeper" of useful things and a recycler of the broken and chipped, so I have a stockpile of broken dishes and pottery. However, I do not have the supplies like the grout and ceramic tile adhesive for making a mosaic piece.




Here is a video by "DIY Maven" that I discovered on YouTube that shows a very similar and easy process for making a mosaic flower pot.




There are several articles on Squidoo that might whet your appetite for making other types of mosaic crafts. Unfortunately, there are none about how to make a pot like mine. How To Mosaic: Art For Your Garden is a good introductory article to the craft of mosaics. 


If you like the idea of a "kit", I found several mosaic craft kits for children available on Amazon. Here are a few links for you: Kits for ages 14+kits for ages 8 to 13; Kits for ages 5-7 years; Kits for ages 2 to 4. Most of the kits for young children use foam pieces and no grout. That is a good thing.

Keep your hands busy, y'all!


Photos: Mickie_G - all rights reserved.





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