Showing posts with label Squidoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Squidoo. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Nose Has Always Been in a Book

I Began to Read at an Early Age


This is me. 
My parents say I taught myself to read when I was three years old, and I still remember the exact book that helped me learn – I See a Kitty. It had large print, few words, several full-page photos of a kitten doing interesting things, and a very uncomplicated plot. My mother read it to me until I had it memorized, and I would still be able recite it to you if you could stand it. Memorized or not, though, I was able to recognize those words in other books my mom read, and I'd ask my dad about the letters in the headlines of the paper he was reading. By the time I hit first grade, the teacher didn't know what to do with me. I and another girl in my class who coincidentally had the same first and last name as I, got to sit in a corner of the classroom and read books while the teacher taught the rest of the class to read.

Since those days I've continued to love kitties and books. I currently don't own a cat, but I own way too many books. I've been collecting them all my life. My first job after high school was in a library. My major in college was English. I taught English at the high school level for two years after that. I quit with the hope of starting a family, but that didn't happen, so I started working in a Christian bookstore. At both the library, where I could check out all the books my heart desired, and at the bookstore, where I could borrow all the books I wanted to read, I had access to as many books as I needed. My bookstore discount helped me stock my home library. Is it any wonder they have made me the Book Contributor here on Review This?

Living with Books and Selling Them


My book collecting didn't end there, though. As a teacher and later, a homeschooling mom after we adopted our two children, I continued to buy and read books. After our daughter moved out and our son was killed in a jet ski accident, I made a hasty decision to become a home school book vendor. That meant I exhibited my books at conventions all over the country between 1992 and 1996, as Barb's People Builders. We had to stop the exhibiting and California book fairs at private schools after that because my husband had worn out both hips. So I took the business online.

Part of History Display at Bookfair


I decided it was time to retire from e-commerce at the end of May 2015 because several surgeries in 2014 made me deactivate my site while I recovered and the site itself became obsolete as far as Google was concerned. I was also not physically able any longer to ship large purchase orders. So after twenty years of selling inventory, I just stopped. I still love books, but now I am a real life book contributor. I'm donating as much inventory as I can to worthy nonprofit organizations. I'm concentrating more now on writing and building more web sites.

I now have more time to read and review books. I have started converting my Barb's People Builders website into a review and affiliate selling site, Books to Remember  so that I can promote the books I love whether I own them or not, though I still do own most of them. Most of the books I review there are for children or educators. I review most books for adults here on Review This! or at Bookworm Buffet, one of my own sites.

I Finally Discovered a Way to Share My Writing


 I have been writing since I was a child, but at first I only shared it with family and friends, mostly in long letters. I was still selling books when I discovered Squidoo became a lensmaster in 2009. By the end of that year I had become a Giant Squid, and still wear my Squidoo T-shirts I was given when I became a Giant Squid. In fact, I'm wearing one right now. Unfortunately, Squidoo died in 2014, but I had already begun writing for other sites and starting my own blogs. Much of what I wrote for Squidoo has been transferred to a new HubPages account






Here are the other places you can find me on the internet.

HubPages (original account)


Of course, there's more to life than reading and writing. I have a garden or two, and I concentrate on herbs and drought-resistant plants. I enjoy keeping up with my local art scene, and I love to take pictures of all our local scenery and activities. When I have time I like to cook and bake. I just don't have time very much anymore. 








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Monday, July 28, 2014

Maryland: A Festive Destination

With the recently passed Artscape Festival and the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim taking place now, I am reminded of the amazing cultural events and festivals that are held in this area. 

When I decided to move here, from rural Indiana, the decision to be near an urban area was in large part due to my desire to have easy access to large cultural events.  I have to tell you that I have not been disappointed. Late summer and autumn is my favorite time of year to attend these festivals.

Costume seen at Maryland's Renaissance Festival
Artscape has just passed. It is held annually and is advertised as “America’s largest free arts festival…”.  I have absolutely no reason to doubt that it is indeed the largest. It is an amazing festival. The food, music, shows, and tent after tent filled with artwork is a sight to see.    

While located in Virginia, not in Maryland, many Marylanders attend the Chincoteague Pony Swim – the annual event that was made famous by Marguerite Henry's book Misty of Chincoteague.  This year the pony round up occurred on July 26 and 27th and the Pony Swim will take place on Wednesday July 30th.  

Maryland’s Renaissance Festival is an amazing event. There is live jousting, a storyline each year that involves characters in costume, food, and entertainment.  So much of the entertainment, food, and crafts are based in that time period.  It is definitely a great way to spend a day or two.

SunFest is held in Ocean City September 18 thru 20th this year. It is the 40th anniversary of the event. I love SunFest since it occurs after the typical end of tourist season on Labor Day.  This festival stretches summer to it’s limit and yet the weather is typically still beautiful weather for the beach. There are crafts, kites, food, and the usual things to see and do while at the beach. 

Sept 6 and 7th 2014 are the dates for the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point. Sandy Point is a beach park that is located at the food of the Bay Bridge. This is a festival that features seafood in a state that boasts about it’s local crabs. Need I say any more?   

I think my very favorite festival is the National AppleHarvest Festival. Again, not located in Maryland but located not far across the Pennsylvania state line, the National Apple Harvest Festival is an event that I look forward to year after year.  I love wandering around the small county fairgrounds; eating, listening to music, and browsing all of the things there are to browse. The smells and the flavors are all things apple and smoked. The antique tractors and the car show is worth the price of admission alone. 

This is just a minute sample of festivals in this area.  There are music festivals, the Preakness, ethnic festivals, and so much more.  If you enjoy festivals, this is the place to be.

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










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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Banish Summertime Boredom with Greeting Card Craft Projects!

"Hey Mom (or Dad), I'm bored! What can I do?"

 How many times have you heard those words in your lifetime? Summer is usually when those words ring out in even the busiest homes. The best advice I can give you is to have plenty of paper, glue sticks and colorful markers on hand. If you have a good public library, I suggest that you go to the "Arts and Crafts" section and look for books about greeting card making.

I recently found a delightful crafting book at my own public library.  Pop-Up Paper Structures: The Beginner's Guide to Creating 3-D Elements for Books, Cards & More is jammed packed with well-written instructions for making creative pop-up greeting cards for all kinds of occasions. The best part is that you can adapt any of the design concepts so you can use supplies that you might have on hand. Those are MY kinds of projects--the ones that reuse stuff!



I have a big storage box where I keep all of my hoarded paper supplies. (If you are a regular reader of this blog you might remember my post about re-using greeting cards. ) That big box is the home for the file with all those greetings card pieces. There is also a big zipper bag with my favorite tools and glues in that same big box.

I am sure your older children will be able to find a pop-up greeting in the book shown above, that they could figure out how to make. Just remember, dear parent, try not to be too critical and just go with the flow. So what if some of the cutting is not as straight as you might expect. Let your children be creative. Sometimes their ideas might just be better than yours.

If you are not in the red and green "holiday" spirit yet, you should read "How to make a Watermelon Card Invitation for Summer Parties", make the card then throw one! Not a watermelon--a party! You will still be red and green, but this card will not feature any holly or red noses!



greeting card craft projects
 "Creative Ways To Recycle Holiday Greeting Cards"
Have you saved a ton of cards, you most definitely should read Creative Ways to Recycle Holiday Greeting Cards. This page abounds with many of ideas for recycling those greetings. I particularly like the projects for a "Star Tree" and a "Woven Card" (see them above--Thank you AcornOakForest for allowing me to use your image!). You will be happy to know that there are wonderful photo tutorials to walk you through the steps for making both of these green crafty projects.

If you need a good crafting glue for paper projects, I highly recommend Elmer's Craft Bond Fabric and Paper Glue. I use it myself to repair books and make my own greeting cards.




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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Theme Parties are the Best!

Party occasions come in all shapes and sizes but party theme ideas will always out number them. Themes can bring fun, whimsy and an opportunity to embrace a different time or place or can bring a fantasy world to life.

They can also be less dramatic but still there -- bringing cohesion to party organization, decorations and even the food (if you choose to go that far)!

During my years in the event industry, I was constantly asked if a theme was "necessary" for parties and events from birthdays and showers to reunions and weddings. The short answer is -- no, they are not necessary. The longer answer is -- a theme can actually help a host/hostess when planning a party.

What the heck do I mean by that? Let me explain...

Do I have to have a Theme for my Party/Event?

Certainly not. However, a theme can actually help with the planning and pulling off of a party. Parties are usually planned in advance and include some or all of the following elements:

  • Invitations
  • Set up and Decorations
  • Food or Meal
  • Cake or Desserts
  • Favors or Guest Gifts

The occasion of your event or party can give you some help or direction when planning but a theme can really bring it all together.

With a central theme, it narrows the vast choices out there for the above mentioned elements. It gives you a starting point and a finish line. And, it can help rein-in ideas and keep you focused on the big picture you are trying to create.

What is a Theme?

Kids birthday parties are definitely theme occasions but adult parties and events can benefit from a theme as well. A theme can be whole hog or subtle, your choice. But, most parties have some sort of a theme.

Even when you simply choose a color scheme and coordinate the above elements with that scheme -- that's a theme too. It's a subtle theme, but a theme nonetheless.

Theme Ideas Abound

Luckily for us and everyone searching for party/event ideas, here are some articles that share a plethora of information that can help. Do you like Tea Parties?  Christine shared her ideas for a child's birthday with a tea party theme in her lens, "Planning an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party".

Got someone that loves guitars and music? PartyBuzz helped plan and execute that theme for her grandson's birthday. The lens is titled "Teen Party Ideas: Guitars and Music Notes".

How about a Las Vegas theme? That one can be loads of fun, especially for adult events like birthdays, reunions, fundraisers and more!

Have you hosted a great theme party? I invite you to write about it. Use lots of photos too! As the Party Planning Contributor, I would love to help you promote your lens when it's finished.

What are you waiting for? Start writing!



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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Weapons of Mass DIY Destruction


Black Ops "Do or Di" - Anything is Possible
There are construction tools and then there are weapons of mass destruction.  We’re not talking nukes here.  Who needs nuclear fire power when one has a reciprocating saw that can pretty much destroy anything in its path? 

Yesterday, when I pulled that DEWALT saw out of its case, nothing seemed ordinary about my DIY mission.  Pulling the trigger on that bad boy transformed a seemingly mundane task into a black ops mission. 

Suddenly, I was able to rip through wood, metal, drywall—you name it—with ease.  The power at my fingertips made me invincible.  When put in a “Do or Di” DIY situation, this is the tool you want in your arsenal.
Check out my new product review, featuring current covert activities, then give Squidoo a try.  What is it that awakens your inner ninja?  Is there a product in your life that transforms you into a force to be reckoned with?  We want to read all about it.  

And now I am being called to duty.  There is a top-secret mission with my name on it. #TrySquidoo



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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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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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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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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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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Celebrating the Day

U.S. Route 40 in Red
This week's event is not a party or a traditional celebration but one I enjoyed immensely and wanted to share with you all. It was a wonderful, late spring day. So, indulge me if you will with this story...

Mom had called last night and wanted me to go with her garage sale-ing early this morning. We live not too far from U.S. Route 40 as it passes through Indiana. This week, Wednesday through Sunday, is the 10th Annual U.S. Route 40 Garage Sales event. All she had to do was ask -- I was in for sure!

We set out around 7:30 this morning and were barely out of the driveway when one of my sisters called asking if we were going. We detoured by her house, picked her up and set off for our day of bargain hunting.

Having just moved into a new house (and having sold all our furniture when we moved from Florida) I had a long wish list. Mom is re-doing her guest room and my sister is always got her eyes open for a treasure she can't live without. We all very much enjoy garage sale-ing.

The Historical U.S. Route 40

We started out about 10 miles from home on U.S. 40 and headed east. I found out this annual event is very well attended.

The whole of U.S. 40 runs from Atlantic City, New Jersey to near Park City, Utah. It used to run all the way to from the east coast to the west coast (San Francisco, CA) but after some changes in the 60's and 70's, it now, officially, ends in Utah.

The Garage Sale Event is hosted in 7 of the 12 states that U.S. 40 runs through -- Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri (St. Louis.) The event promoters boast 824 miles of garage sales.

Our Journey & Our Finds

Nail Keg in disrepair
Now, we didn't travel even 10% of the way but found tons of sales along a portion about 30 miles long. We had a blast. Some of the loot we found and purchased includes: Mom: 2 night stands ($2 each), books, red kitchen garbage can ($2).

My sister is a chef wanna-be so she found a large Wolfgang Puck skillet for $4, a glass baking dish for $1 and some cookbooks.

Though I didn't find any big pieces of furniture I could buy (found some but too expensive for my budget) I did find a small refrigerator for $2 (yes, it works!) I plan to use in the family room wet bar, a goose down comforter for $5, and a large flash light for $4.

My favorite purchase was an old, falling apart nail keg. The metal strapping on top was completely loose as well as the 2 stabilizing wires. The wood ribs were flapping due to nothing holding them in place except at the bottom (that metal strapping was still in place and was holding).
Nail Keg as Garbage Can

The owner saw me looking at it and approached me saying the keg was falling apart. He told me I could have it for $1. I, of course, jumped on that! As soon as I got home, I repaired it as best I could with few tools (I needed Diana's tool cache) and it now sits in my office/craft room as the garbage can. I am looking at it now as I type -- the vintage feel is perfect for me!

Share Your Next Event

I had so much fun today. I look at it as a celebration of family. Mom, sis and I had fun talking, comparing, visiting and solving the world's problems as we perused U.S. Route 40's garage sales today. Events -- no matter the size, shape or occasion -- are a part of all our lives.

I invite you to write on Squidoo about your experiences. I am the Party Planning Contributor and would welcome your ideas, suggestions and experience with planning your particular event. But remember, Squidoo is a platform where you can write about ANYTHING -- we have categories for it all.

Happy Sunday and I hope to see you soon on Squidoo!



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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Penny for Your Thoughts


Will Work for Pennies

My DIY reality this week is all about pennies.  Not the kind I used to purchase penny candy when I was a child, or the bright copper ones I put in my penny loafers forty years ago.   My pennies these days are 12d’s, 8d’s, 6d’s, and everything in between.

As I pounded in several hundred nails over the past few days, I had lots of time to think about such things as the medieval system for classifying nails.  This is my brain hot-dipped, galvanized, common, shanked, ringed, sinkered, and bright box nailed.

So why are they called 12-penny nails… those three and a half inch nails that are giving me blisters and hammer elbow?  It goes back to how many pennies were needed to buy 100 nails back in the 1500s.  It turns out that the letter “d” after the number is an abbreviation for the most commonly used Roman coin (the denarius).  The number refers to the length of nail.

If I’m doing the math correctly, which is never a given, twelve pennies bought 100 nails back in the day.  I paid 445 pennies for 96 ring-shanked nails this past weekend.  Kind of made me long for the days of yore.  Can you picture it?  Me in a toga, eating figs, tapping in twelve denarii worth of nails? 

In the process of building a studio addition onto my mountain cabin, I am learning invaluable lessons that go beyond the importance of purchasing and using the right nails.  It seems each stage of the building process needs a different kind of fastener.  Early in the process I was tempted to use screws to make parts of the job easier and faster to complete.  It turns out that would have been a big mistake.  Screws don’t have the sheer strength provided by 12d nails.

Isn’t that true of building a life also?  Finding the strength that matches each phase of the process of becoming?  Just as I used the right kind of anchor hardware in the foundation stage of this do-it-myself project, I seek to live a life anchored in ways that ensure the stability to weather any storm.  

Isn’t it amazing that something we often take for granted, nails and pennies, are essential to building something lasting?  I invite you to join me in creating something worth every single blister.  As Squidoo's Home Renovator Contributor, I'm looking for a few kindred hammer swingers.  Please stop by today.  I'll give you a penny (worth at least $4.45 with inflation) for your thoughts.



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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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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tile in a Snap


SnapStone Floating Tile
Seven years ago I bought a new home that was about 70 percent complete.  Part of the 30 percent that remained to be finished included flooring in two bedrooms, the upstairs loft, a half bath, pantry, laundry room, and stairwell.  To make the house immediately livable, I put in some flooring that was trendy at the time.  I figured if a product passed the Divine Design test of my HGTV guru, Candice Olson, it was certainly more than worthy of installation in my home.

I’m still happy with most of the flooring I installed, but I have since rescued a dog.  Anyone who has cared for larger dogs knows they can be hard on flooring.  The area that has taken a beating is the stairwell landing where Toby likes to hang out by a picture window that gives him a place to keep an eye on what’s happening in our world.  I need to install a tougher material that can take heavy traffic.

Having decided on tile, since my animals love to soak up the sun in front of that window, I have been researching DIY options.  How I love to come across web pages that show an innovative home improvement product in action.  There are many websites pushing products, but few that are exceptional when it comes to demonstrating an actual installation.  I appreciate a how-to presentation that is honest in sharing what went right as well as lessons learned.

Here’s one of the best Squidoo lenses I found.  KateHon demos a fabulous floating tile flooring option while sharing before and after photos of a bathroom renovation.  I can see myself installing this tile floor in my home.  How about you?

Have you published a home improvement product review?  If so, stop by and let me know.  I hope to feature your work.  You can find me at Home Renovation Central and "Do or Di DIY."



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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Father's Review of "Father of the Bride"

This week, I had the opportunity to read a truly wonderful review. It combines storytelling and a review, producing an article anyone would be proud to read or write. As a matter of fact, it also won the Squidoo "Review of the Day" honor. Definitely worth a minute or two of your time.

Keeping it Funny

The review grabs your attention immediately with a title like this:
"This is why I'm glad I didn't run over Steve Martin". 
I giggled as soon as I read that. 

Not only did author pgallagher grab my attention, he held it because he kept the promise his title made -- told us why he was glad he didn't run over Mr. Martin. He even goes so far as to share his humorous thoughts at the time of the "almost" mishap!

Keeping it Real

He tells us about the kinship he feels with the character from the film (George Banks). Since pgallagher is a father to two daughters, it wasn't such a stretch.

I think this is my favorite line in the whole review: "Father of the Bride will be relevant for as long as parents have children that grow up and get married."

Storytelling + Review = One Heck of an Article! 

I applaud you, pgallagher. This review was perfect (if there such a thing.) The formula works! It is possible, readable and more interesting when we use stories and personal experience in our writing on Squidoo and anywhere on the web.

It makes us better writers but more important, better people when we share. Please, take a moment and read the review. You won't be sorry. Leave pgallagher a comment with your impression of his review. He's relatively new to Squidoo (Sept. 2013) and only has 3 lenses so far.

If he keeps putting out articles like this one, he will have a long and prosperous career at Squidoo!

You Can Join the Fun Too

There is a almost no limit to the topics on Squidoo. The Squidoo Contributors write about most everything. Find a favorite niche topic (mine is party planning) and start reading and writing. I know you will love it as much as we do!




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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Uniquely Brilliant

Photo Credit: Ostrich Egg Carvings
This morning I have several things on the brain that might seem unrelated at first glance:  Seth Godin, orchids, Dremel tools, dentures, "peticures," and egg carvings.  You just never know what you’re going to find here when I start writing at 2:30 a.m.  I enjoy being surprised by the things percolating in my brain at this hour.

So what is the connection?  The interwoven thread is that of being indispensable and uniquely brilliant.  I am, of course, thinking about Seth Godin’s book about linchpins.  One of the things Seth asks us is if we are indispensable.  I had always hoped to be seen in that way but in reality, when I first read his book, I had not yet experienced an organization that didn’t constantly remind my colleagues and I that we could be easily dispensed of and replaced. 

What makes you or I indispensable, or, in the definition of a human linchpin, essential?  We learn by reading Seth’s book that it is our unique brilliance.  And, our unique brilliance has to do with the artistry of our hearts and souls.  We become indispensable when we turn each day into a work of art. 

That explains where the title of this post and Seth Godin come into play.  You may still be wondering how I’m going to work in the orchid, false teeth, peticure, carving, and Dremel angles.  This has to do with the artistry, unique brilliance, and essence of those who make Squidoo such an incredibly creative unworkplace.

Unworkplace?  That’s right.  Squidoo is not typical in any way.  In this creative community, each writer is constantly encouraged to pour his or her indispensability into each interaction (with others and with stories).  So what is the work in an unworkplace?  It’s emotion, and passion, and delight.  It is being the work of art that we already are in essence.

That brings us to the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.  A while back, I issued a challenge for creative souls to share reviews of their favorite Dremel tools.  In my “Do or Di” DIY world, the Dremel is indispensable.  It is uniquely brilliant.  It’s the one tool I would never want to be without.  I haven’t found anything that my Dremel cannot do.  It is a linchpin.

While visiting Dremel reviews on Squidoo, I have been continually amazed and delighted by the ingenious ways in which my fellow writers use their Dremel tools and accessories.  Please take a few moments to celebrate with me the unique brilliance of those who have demonstrated there are no limits to what two linchpins (human and Dremel) can accomplish in concert with one another.  

Denise McGill saves the day with her Dremel dentistry brilliance.  While Nathanville upcycles a plastic tumbler into an orchid pot using his Dremel.  Then there are the amazing egg carvings presented by Craft-E-Mom.

After checking out their artistry, might you join us as the newest member of our Squidoo Linchpin Collective?  We’d love to have the opportunity to appreciate the indispensable artistry and unique brilliance of you.





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Friday, February 28, 2014

Romantic Movie Reviews: The Bodyguard, 10 Things I Hate About You, While You Were Sleeping, Anne of Green Gables, Brief Encounter, & The Way We Were

http://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/2014/02/romantic-movie-reviews-bodyguard-10.html
I absolutely love being the romantic movies!  I have had so much fun reading the reviews of the best romantic movies for the last few weeks, and I have found myself grabbing my own old copies of the movies to watch them again.  

In a few cases, I have actually been introduced to new romantic movies by our review authors.  I really do love that!  Having a movie reviewed and recommended, truly helps me find entertainment that I have previously missed, but that I am sure to enjoy.  


Recommended Romantic Movie Reviews


The BodyguardThe Bodyguard review written by ThanksDevine, is a perfect example of an older movie being brought back to mind by an excellent review.  

Just reading his words filled my mind with memories of the scenes from that movie and made me want to relive the experience of watching Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner fall in love on the silver screen.  

This movie is filled with passion and I was reminded of looks of longing and desire these two exchanged with each other as I read this review.


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00447L4KA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00447L4KA&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=4WTL23ZIFO2GGCCQDaisyDixon reviewed 10 Things I Hate About You and I was, once again, swept back to the past.

I had not even realized Heath Ledger was the male star in that movie.  When the movie was originally released, Heath was new to Hollywood.  As a matter of fact, since reading this review, I did a bit of research and found that "10 Things I Hate About You" was Heath's first movie.  

This was such a tender movie about first loves and discovering romance. I had to watch it again and, of course, my heart cried for both actors as their relationship developed.

I will admit, I also cried at the realization that the real man, Heath Ledger, was taken from all of us way too soon.   



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6304765266/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=6304765266&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=SPG5YOSF4MBZOJVH
While You Were Sleeping  is one of my personal all time favorite romantic comedies. 

Crystalwriter wrote an excellent review of this fabulously fun movie.  Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman both have a way of making you feel like you know them personally.

The two of them together in any movie is bound to be a hit, but this really is The Best Case of Unexpected Love.  

There are several quotes from this movie that you are apt to hear me reference on a daily basis.  I might mention "leaning" or "pencils" and if you have seen the movie, you will definitely grasp the implication.  


Romantic Movies by Special Request





http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007NMHNS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0007NMHNS&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=DQ2QBEADFFLWX2IF
WhiteIsland88  suggested that I include Anne of Green GablesI immediately applauded her movie suggestion.  In less than 24 hrs, she had written an outstanding review of the movies.

The romance part of the story comes more into focus in the second movie, but we chose to add and review the trilogy.  

While there is no question that you could enjoy the second movie without having seen the first movie, the trilogy is simply more complete with the beginning and end.  They are all worthwhile and highly recommended. 



Since I have never personally seen the movie Brief Encounter, karen1960's review was especially intriguing to me.


I do love the older movies and the beauty of black & white.  I always enjoy the close up look at historical places, architecture, clothing styles and political references of what would have been current day when the movies were originally made.

I have added this movie to my list of must sees.  I am certain there is a rainy Saturday in my future when this will fit with my desire of the day.


The Anniversary of a Romantic Movie Classic

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W453KQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000W453KQ&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=7CDRIXVWK6DE6F6Z
I had not realized that it had been 40 years since I first viewed this movie until I read this review written by Serendipity831.

Talk about a flood of memories! I definitely experienced flashbacks as I was reading this review.  It is so hard to believe it has been 40 years.  I can easily remember exactly how I felt when I first saw The Way We Were.

Many of us grew up with the golden voice of Barbra Streisand setting the tone of our days and "singing" our lives. When she was teamed with the beautiful "golden boy", Robert Redford, to make this movie, it was bound to be a smash hit! 

Happy Anniversary to "The Way We Were" !


Future Romantic Movie Reviews

If you would like to share your romantic movie review with us, simple leave the link to that review in the comment section at the bottom of the list.  

I look forward to reading and sharing your review!
 





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