Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Year of Storytelling on Squidoo

Squidoo is a really cool place to write. Squidoo promotes quality and community. Squidoo provides opportunity and training. Squidoo sparks ideas and creativity. Squidoo Rocks! This is the path the Recycle Contributor on Squidoo followed to go from an unknown writer to a member of Squidoo's contributor community in just one short year. 

Hello Storytellers!

In a few days, I will celebrate my first anniversary on Squidoo and I never imagined that this journey would be wild, wacky and wonderful. Squidoo has helped me come out of my timid shell, develop a storytelling writing style and promote my writing in a way that I never imagined.

Squidoo has been a great fit for me and it might be a great fit for you. Do you have a skill or a craft you'd like to teach to others? Do you like to recommend books, movies and products? Do you like to share your favorite recipes? Join me on Squidoo and you can write about all these things and more!

I'd like to share with you the programs offered by Squidoo that have helped me grow my writing craft, build a social media following and gain credibility in the online world. These avenues are available to anyone with the drive and desire to become a successful web writer.

NOTE:  On August 15, 2014, Squidoo announced that it was being acquired by HubPages. These programs are no longer available.

When I joined Squidoo, I wanted to improve my writing portfolio. I searched for an upstanding writing platform and a place that allowed me the freedom to express myself. I selected Squidoo because of their commitment to content that is Unique, Useful and Updated.

Squidoo looked impressive from the outside. I didn't have any idea that it was even more impressive from the inside.

A week after I joined Squidoo, I started my first lens. This new writing platform was a bit intimidating, so I took my time. After another week of writing and learning, I was ready to press the Publish button.

Not only did my first lens go live, I received a notice from Squidoo that I was eligible for their RocketSquid program. The name was intriguing, so I checked out Squidoo's web writing bootcamp exclusively for their members. I'm glad I joined.

The program helped me search my brain for writing ideas and maintain a consistent flow of writing. The people in charge of the program were always sending encouraging messages. And, the best writing was awarded with Purple Stars and spotlights on the Squidoo homepage. The recognition and promotion did wonders for my confidence. I felt rewarded for my hard work and a job well done.

Five months and 25 lenses later, it was time for my RocketSquid graduation. I was sad to leave the group. I would miss the mentoring from the RocketSquid Greeters, the weekly writing challenges and the daily inspiration from Squidoo headquarters. I was beginning to find a direction in the online world and I didn't want to lose sight while traveling the rocky road ahead.

I really had nothing to fear. The support and motivation from Squidoo didn't stop there. With 25 quality lenses to my credit, it was time to go to the next level and apply to the Squidoo Giant program. I became a Giant Squid just in time for the launch of Squidoo's new lens formats and a list of other improvements to the platform.

It took me a while to warm up to the new and shorter formats. Adapting to change is not always easy. After several weeks and the incentive of a cash award, I took the plunge and wrote my first movie review. My review was selected for one of the prizes and I loved writing it. These new formats make it fast and easy to write informative how-to articles, insightful product reviews and delicious recipes.

In January, Squidoo announced their Contributor program and offered 100 Giant Squids the opportunity to build a niche for themselves and to help promote Squidoo as a fun place to write. After reading about the program, I felt this was the perfect way for me to narrow my favorite topics of home and gardening into a niche that would fit the expectations of the Web. And, I was totally head over heels in love with Squidoo. When I saw that a contributor role for recycling was available, I gave it my best pitch.

I loved being the Recycler Contributor. The support from Squidoo was incredible and I made many new online friends. Recycling has always been a part of my frugal lifestyle and it makes me feel good to know that I am contributing to making the world a better place for all of us.

Until next time, be safe and be well.

Coletta



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Friday, April 11, 2014

Special Easter Treats Equal Special Easter Memories

I have always enjoyed creating fun food for holidays, birthdays and special occasions, but Easter treats are especially delightful.  There is something inherently fun about bunnies, lambs, chicks, and decorated eggs.  

They all represent the celebration of new life and spring, which make them most appropriate for our Easter celebrations.  


Making Special Memories While Making Special Easter Treats

In our home, everyone gets involved in making special Easter treats.  One of my all time favorite Easter memories was actually when my son was in college.  He called to ask if he could come home for the weekend before Easter, bring a friend and make Easter cupcakes for a charity bake sale.   

There are many reasons why that request thrilled my soul, all of which I am sure any mother of college age children could understand.   I had a wonderful time drinking coffee, taking pictures and watching the guys "create" their special Easter treats.   It is truly amazing what all you can learn about your children if you simply listen to their conversation while they decorate cupcakes.  

The faces they put on the Easter bunny and lamb cupcakes were simply downright hilarious.  Needless to say, their cupcakes sold out at the bake sale and I never even got to taste one myself, but I know for a fact, they were delightful.

Cupcakes in photos were created by using
  the Wilton Mini Cakes Bunny Rabbit Pan Mold 
 and the Wilton Lamb Mini Treats Pan



More Special Easter Treats Suggestions 

Stepping out of my own kitchen and into the homes of other  authors, I find there are several awesome Easter treat suggestions that would truly be a lot of fun for the whole family.  

http://hubpages.com/food/easter-cake-pops-recipe
Andreaberrios  invites us to make this gorgeous and creative Easter Cake Pops.  

She offers suggestions and recipes for chicks, bunnies and Easter egg cake pops.  I am certain any of these would be extra special Easter treats.





Seeking More Special Treats 


If you are like me and you are constantly on the lookout for special treats.

Now tell us, do you have a special Easter treat story full of special Easter memories to share?



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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Photography Classes

I try to take at least one photography class or workshop each year.  There is always a wide array of classes available in many different price ranges.  You can even sometimes find free classes online. 

One of the places that I have gone to take photography classes in our local botanical garden.  Each year they come out with 10-12 different classes taught by some very talented photographers. Here are some pages that I wrote on two of these classes.  On these pages I give you some of the tips that I learned in these classes.
  • Garden Photography is a class that I took at Missouri Botanical Garden.  It was late spring and the irises were in full bloom for the class.  Stop by this page to learn how to take close up photos of these flowers.
  • Photographing Wildflowers  is another class I took through the Missouri Botanical Garden, but this one was held at their Shaw Nature Reserve sight.  Here is a photo I took during that session.
Kim Manley Ort is a Photographer who loves sharing her photography knowledge.  On this page she shares with us what she learned at a photography workshop of Visual Design


I am taking a six week class on nature photography during April and May.  I plan on sharing the tips that I learn each Thursday on this blog.  Stay tuned for more. 





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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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Monday, April 7, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Authors

Just in case you have not noticed, I love the Mid-Atlantic region. I’d love for everyone to experience a part of this area, whichever part they would enjoy most. Whether that enjoyment would come from the beach or the mountains, quiet countryside or bustling city, hot summer nights or cold snowy days... I wish everyone could have a personal experience here.

I realize that traveling and vacations are sometimes difficult.  Luxuries like travel are becoming increasingly difficult as the economy has taken such a toll on so many people.

When I can’t travel, and I usually can’t beyond this region, I turn to books.  I can read about faraway lands and adventures that I may never take. I already feel as though I’ve done a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, even though I have only done a short walk on a couple of different portions of the trail in this immediate area. That is the magic of books.


I’d like for you to know about my three favorite Mid-Atlantic authors.

Suzanne McMinn writes about her life in rural West Virginia.

Tawni O’Dell tells us stories about coal mining areas, and the people who live there, in Pennsylvania.

Nora Roberts tells too many stories to list, but I want to point out that she tells us stories that take place in BoonsBoro, Maryland and on the Chesapeake Bay.

I hope you check out these authors and their stories.  And if you are interested, I’ve given you a place to help review these books and to browse more of their writing.

Until you can come to the Mid-Atlantic in person, pick up a book and travel here through the magic of words. Enjoy your adventure! 


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



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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Please Pass the Punch

Credit: Andrea Parrish Geyer under CC by ND-2.0 License
What's a party without liquid libation? Yes, every party also needs a variety of drinks for your guests. Luckily, Squidoo is chuck full of punch, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes as well as some great suggestions for serving your drinks.

Punch for Kids and Adults

My absolute favorite, all time punch recipe has the be the old fall back of sherbet punch. Any flavor will do (although green/lime is my favorite). I have served it at baby and bridal showers, weddings, graduations, open houses for different holidays, school parties, and almost any other party occasion that comes to mind.

Sylvestermouse shares her recipe in her article aptly titled Sherbert Punch. The recipe I use is a bit different than the one Miss Mouse uses but I can tell you from experience, both are fantastic punch offerings for any party -- kids or adult.

 BuckHawk shares, in her article titled Party Punches for Every Occasion, a lot of different punch recipes. Her's include punches made with cider, a golden wedding punch, shower punches and even a recipe that uses Jello as an ingredient. (I may have to try this one!)

Non-Alcoholic Party Drinks

Depending on the season of your party, you can serve wonderful frozen or cold refreshments or piping hot drinks to your party guests. For spring or summer, you might serve a refreshing flavored iced tea or a non-alcoholic "mocktail".

Mix them up by the glass, pitcher or gallon. Your guests can serve themselves and then dress them up with fun swizzle sticks or cute paper drink umbrellas. No alcohol required for fun here!

Alcoholic Cocktail Party Drinks

Is it 5 o'clock somewhere? If you are hosting an adult party then alcoholic offerings are another choice for your party. There are literally thousands of different drinks you can make for a party that don't require a seasoned bartender.

Consider choosing only a couple and label them as "signature drinks" for your event. Give them a name that goes along with the event in some way and make them up by the gallon or punch bowl. The best party drinks are self serve.

A good hostess/host wants her/his guests to be happy. Instead of waiting in long lines for a bartender to mix drinks one at a time (not to mention the expense of a full bar), self-serve "signature drinks" keep everyone happy. Make a drink station -- decorate it with your party motif -- and off you go!

Squidoo is Party Headquarters

Squidoo is a veritable treasure trove of punch and drink recipes. Take a look for yourself the next time you are planning a party or get-together or just want to enjoy a new, different liquid libation!

Have you got a special drink or punch recipe you always use for parties? Consider sharing it with the world by writing your own article on Squidoo. It's fast, easy and fun! 



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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Celebrate Earth Month

It's springtime in April, the Earth's having a birthday. Clean up our environment, plant a tree. Make this world a better place for everybody.

Hello Friends of the Earth!

Welcome to April and the warming rays of the springtime season. Springtime is my favorite time of the year. The air is fresh, the birds are singing and the plants are sprouting new blossoms. As I finish the Spring Cleaning Challenge of the Century, I look forward to the clean and environmentally friendly events yet to come this month.

Showcase Your Best Upcycled and Recycled Easter Crafts

Easter brings a wealth of opportunities to celebrate the rejuvenation of the earth by reusing what we have to celebrate the holiday. The Recycler Network is hosting an Easter Crafters hashtag event. Do you have an upcycled and recycled Easter craft that you'd like to share with the world? It's easy to be seen.

To enter, you'll need a Twitter account (or a friend who Tweets). Just tweet your Easter craft along with the  hashtag, #EasterCrafts between 12 am Eastern time on Monday, April 14, and 11 pm on Friday, April 18. You'll find more information about the event at The Recycler Network News.


Find Creative Ways to Recycle Everyday Items

Springtime holidays and spring cleaning bring opportunities to reduce the clutter around the house. Before you throw your unwanted stuff into the garbage, Find Inspiration to Turn Trash into Treasure. I put together a list of books that will spark idea after idea to make something new out of something old. If you read one of the books on this list, I'd love to share your review.

BritFlorida was the first to tell us about her favorite recycled crafting book. She finds inspiration while browing the pages of Eco Craft. A book to inspire you to make recycled home decor items. This crafting book has some unique projects that you won't find any place else.

I hope you enjoyed today's recycling stories and found some inspiration to recycle more in your own every day life.

Until next time, be happy and be well!

The Recycler

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The Recycler likes to have fun and wants you to have fun, too!
Let's get together and turn trash into treasure.
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Join The Recycler Network
Ask questions. Share stories. Get inspired.


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Friday, April 4, 2014

Cooking for Easter


For many families, Easter is a day for tradition and celebration, but traditions have to start somewhere.  

Most of the Easter traditions in our family were started by my mother, and her chicks have simply followed her example throughout the ensuing years.  

However, any of us can start a new Easter tradition without having to terminate the family traditions we hold so close to our hearts.  I have found several things in the following articles, that I would like to add to our Easter family traditions.

Some changes are just for fun, while others are for dietary needs.


The Easter Menu


https://hubpages.com/food/carrotcake-2
The traditional Easter menu in my childhood home was similar to Treasures-by-Brenda's Traditional Easter Dinner Menu.   The one main deviation that Brenda makes from our family menu is a luscious carrot cake.   As I read her article, I wondered why I have never had a carrot cake for Easter.   It just makes since.  Easter bunnies need Easter carrot cake!  

Therefore, a new tradition must be started in our home this year.  We need carrot cake on our menu.


Easter Recipes for Vegetarians & Vegans


As the "chef" for holidays, I vowed to try to find ways to make cooking for the holidays easier.  

One of my personal favorite tips is to do as much in the days before the holiday as possible.  Then, you can focus on enjoying the actual day.

Good Housekeeping has published some totally awesome "Easter Brunch Ideas" article.   The site is packed with recipes for just about everyone.  They even has recipes for Vegetarians and recipes for Vegans!   Discovering this article thrilled me beyond description.  You see, my daughter is a vegan and I have been quite challenged to find recipes that are actually vegan friendly.   

Therefore, a new tradition and addition to our Easter dinner will be this Vegan Spinach and Mushroom Quiche Recipe.  Since my husband is the Quiche chef of the family, I will get help in the kitchen too!


 


Easter Desserts

I love all of the fabulous specialty desserts for Easter.  Frankly, the pleasure derived from making and serving the desserts far outweighs eating them for me.  

As you can well imagine, I actually had a difficult time selecting the dessert article to feature.  

In the end, I selected two articles that really stood out because they both offer a variety of fun ideas and recipes.  

Good Housekeeping presents several really beautiful Easter cake Ideas and Country Living focuses solely on fabulous Easter cupcakes.   


It is truly a difficult decision.  I just might have to have multiple Easter desserts this year.  

Now that really would be a new Easter tradition! 



Please Share Your Easter Menu Ideas and Articles

We would love to hear your menu ideas, suggestions and tips for making the Easter holiday easier, and Easter Recipes.  Please share your Easter recipes and tips links in the guestbook below.  

I look forward to hearing from all of you!    





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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Refining your Skills as a Photographer


To refine your skills as a photographer it is important to Practice-Practice-Practice.  During the month of March I spent some time each morning practicing photographing the sunrise.  I took hundreds of photos, using different settings on my camera.  I would then load them into my computer and see which settings got me the desired shots.  The next day I would start with that setting and then start the process all over again. 


While I went through this process, I also learned a lot about the natural lighting in the sky.  For instance I found that on many mornings there was a time about 20-30 minutes before sunrise when the sky would take on some beautiful colors.  It would only last for a few minutes so if you didn't know when to look for it you would miss a great opportunity for a beautiful photo.  Here is the result of one of those predawn shots.





Every morning in March brought another spectacular sunrise.  Here is another of my photos from these practice sessions.  On this morning there were a lot of clouds so I photographed the sun just as it came up over the ocean and before it went into the next bank of clouds.  Note how the light shines through the clouds above it. 




Practicing photography can take many forms, from my self-imposed challenges to formal classes and workshops. 
Next week I will talk about some of the formal photography classes that I have taken.


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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Operation Sunbeam


Solar Oven (Photo Credit)
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a spy.  How I loved all those top-secret codes and 007 spy gadgets.  Of course, one of my favorite TV shows was Mission Impossible.

Today, my mission, which I have chosen to accept, is far different from those Jim was offered over the course of the series.  Though the overall operation has changed, there are still zeros in my aspirations.  These days I am working on zero waste and zero emissions—perhaps the Ground Zero of those seeking the ultimate green lifestyle.  Just imagine how our world would be different if everyone accepted that mission.

I recently wrote a review of a book, Cooking Green, about how we might each reduce our cookprints (our kitchen’s carbon footprint).  In that book, author Kate Heyhoe compared our ovens to Humvees because of their horrible waste of energy.  She really got me thinking about how I might create greater efficiencies with my cooking.

Kate mentioned that the closest we can get to zero emissions when baking is to use a solar oven.  That thought has been bouncing around in my brain for several days now.  Intrigued with the thought of building and using my own solar oven, I have been a woman on a mission. 

First, I gathered up resources for learning more about solar cooking.  A topic search of web pages led me to many excellent resources.  I’ve since checked out solar cookery guides and cookbooks from my library and have conducted a number of Internet searches.  These combined resources have only increased my enthusiasm for making my cooking as green as possible. 

Curious?  Your mission, which I hope you will accept, is to take a minute or two to explore the potential for tapping into the greatest underutilized power source on the planet (sunshine).  I encourage you to think about the possibilities by visiting How to Make and Use a Solar Oven.  Don't delay.  This link may self-destruct in 30 seconds.



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The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
Woman2010
Lou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecorating
forEvents
Heather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner