Saturday, August 31, 2013

How to Bleach Nails Naturally

As I continue reading Your Home and You: Unit Course in Home Economics (published in 1942), the author goes on to explain the importance of well kept nails. To get nails white and to keep them white, she recommends applying hydrogen peroxide under the nails. Lemon juice also works. Just apply under the nails with a cotton swab and allow to dry.

Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Brush Teeth With Salt

As I continue to read Your Home and You: Unit Course in Home Economics (written in 1942), the author discusses tooth care. She mentions brushing teeth with salt,

"Common table salt is desirable for cleaning the teeth. Keep a jar of salt in your bathroom. Pour a little into the palm of your hand, wet your toothbrush, then dip it into the salt"
She also mentions brushing teeth with baking soda - something I have already tried in the past - and using pure soap for cleansing teeth.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How They Used to Make Deodorant

I began reading Your Home and You: Unit Course in Home Economics, published in 1942, the other night. While the tone of the book can be annoying and the gender roles are clearly defined, the old book has a few interesting tidbits. In the section about good appearance, the author goes on to explain how to avoid B.O. From washing more frequently than once a week to not wearing your underwear longer than two days in a row, she explains to her young readers that they can buy antiperspirants made with aluminum salt to prevent sweating. However, with the wearing of undershirts, people should make and wear a simple deodorant solution to prevent bad odor.

The recipe she gives is simply:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda

From experience in the kitchen, I would recommend mixing the baking soda with room temperature water to help it dissolve. The writer always fails to explain how people would apply this solution. I am assuming it was made in a spray bottle and squirted onto the armpits. I do know that at the local health food store, there are deodorants in spray bottles, so this method of application makes sense.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Best Rolling Pin to Buy

As some people already know, I have been the bread baking guide on since 2008. I do a lot of baking. And when I am not baking breads, I am baking other things - pies, roasts, casseroles, cakes, etc.

Since forever, my rolling pin of choice has been my grandmother's rolling pin. The thing is older than me and it simply a solid piece of wood. Unfortunately, the thing has, over the long years, been used for craft projects as well. It was finally showing its age when I decided to break down and buy a new rolling pin.

After much research, I picked out Ateco 20-Inch Length Maple French Rolling Pin. I am extremely pleased with my purchase, which is why I am telling you about it (if I didn't like it, I would be bitching about it and you would be rolling your eyes).

Forget the rolling pins where you hold the handles and roll it back and forth. They don't last very long and break easily. This rolling pin is a single piece of wood, just like my grandmother's rolling pin, and it will no doubt last until my future grandchildren are adults.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Display Potpourri Recipe

Here is an easy potpourri recipe you can mix up and display in bowls or small baskets around your home.

  • 2 pints mixed scented flowers
  • 2 ounces rosemary
  • 1 ounce orris root powder
  • 2 inches length vanilla pod, chopped
  • 2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 drops carnation oil
  • 2 drops neroli oil
  • 2 drops rosemary oil

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Build a Backyard Pond to Use for Home Schooling

Why Build a Backyard Pond for Homeschoolers

When we first moved to our new home, there were two small ponds in the backyard. We removed the first pond because it was too close to the house. The second, and much larger pond, needed a lot of work. My son, who was being homeschooled at that time, decided to take on the project of rebuilding and fixing up the pond. By doing something he enjoyed, he was able to cover a number of subjects for homeschooling.

More Than Just Science

Building and maintaining a backyard pond covers many of the mandatory homeschool subjects.

Science: While rebuilding the pond, my son spent time identifying the frogs living in it. He learned how to sex the frogs, and identify the differences between the bullfrog tadpoles and a toad tadpoles. He was also able to follow the life cycle of the frogs and introduce fish into the pond.

Math: Figuring out the amount of water in the pond took math skills. This needs to be done so that water treatments can be measured and used properly.

Language Arts: Language arts was involved when my son would read articles on pond keeping or on the American bullfrog. I would create reading comprehension worksheets for him to answer and show that he understood what he had read. Children can also use the pond as an inspiration for poetry and story writing.

Art: Kids can draw or paint pond scenes. My son chose to practice photography and videography at the pond. He photographed and filmed the bullfrogs and their habitat.

Physical Education: It's a lot of work moving stones, yanking weeds, and shoveling dirt. Make certain to include your child's hard work as physical education in the log book and spend time teaching your child how to properly lift heavy objects.

Pond Curriculum Ideas

There are many aspects of a backyard pond that can be studied.

  • Your child can learn how to introduce and maintain fish in the pond. This would include research into the best types of fish for your region and learning how to winter the fish.
  • Tadpoles can also be introduced into the pond. Children can watch the tadpoles transform into frogs and keep a log of the frogs' changes.
  • Pond plants. There are many different types of pond plants to add to the backyard pond. Some plants, such as the lily pad, provide relief from the sun for fish and the perfect hiding area for frogs. Some plants are fish food and some are purely for pretty.
  • Insect identification. With the pond comes insects. There are beetles, dragonflies, and even butterflies that visit the flowers surrounding our pond. Get a good insect identification book for your region.
  • Landscaping. Backyard gardens can be beautiful. Have your child research different pond styles and chose something that he or she likes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Learn How to Build Your Stock Photo Image Collection for Your Online Articles

Taking Original Photographs for Your Articles

As writers, we are constantly on the search for the perfect photo to compliment an article. The problem with this is that the right picture is often difficult to find. The answer: Start taking your own photos now!

Taking your own photos is a fun, creative way to step away from the computer and continue your work as a writer. The pictures you take can be inspiring, beautiful, common, or unique. Your purpose is to take a large number of photographs and store them for later use. Even if you don't think you'll use a photo showing something you don't write about, such as a cow, keep it anyway. You just never know when you'll be able to fit that photo with one of your articles.

Photos From Home

You can begin building your stockpile of photos right now, at home. Do you have an interesting vase? Take it outside and photograph it on the sidewalk. Use natural sunlight, the best light to use for photographs, and begin clicking the vase at unusual angles. Add some flowers, set a rock or two beside it, photograph it on a tree stump, and use your imagination. Photograph your antiques, a stack of dusty old books, doorways, the stairs, and the weeds growing in the garden. Remember, every crisp photo has the potential to be used in an article, no matter how obscure the object in the photo is.

The Mini Trip

Mini trips are a great way for writers to break away from the computer screen and clear the mind. Take your camera along and call it a working mini vacation. Some places I like to visit are the Civil War memorials I drive by all the time but never stop to investigate. These stops often inspire an article or two. I also visit old cemeteries and photograph the graves for Halloween articles as well as articles on local history. Zoos, farms, gardens, and parks are also fun places to visit and take photographs. Be sure to talk to local farm and garden owners to ask for permission to photograph the animals and flowers.

Old Photos

Family members are also a great source for photographs. Ask them if you can look through their old photos and vacation photos. If you see photographs that you can use, ask them for permission to scan the images in. Be certain to give the family member who took the photo her or his credit when crediting the photograph in your article. I got some wonderful old photos of Stone Henge from my mother using this method of photo collecting. She was only too happy to share her original photographs with my readers.

Be Inspired By Your Photographs

Not sure what to write about? At any time, you can look through your collection of photographs and get ideas for articles. For example, I had photographs of cows and was inspired to write an article on baking with milk and milk alternatives. Photographs can inspire you to write articles about your favorite poets, local heroes, how to articles, poetry, and personal essays. There is no limit to the inspiration you can get from your own personal stock photo library.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saw Mill Trail - Hiking in Beltzville State Park Pennsylvania

Beltville State Park

Located in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, the Beltzville State Park is nearly 3,000 acres of outdoor fun. When visiting the park, you can go swimming or boating in the lake, enjoy the picnic areas, and attend the nature programs. Beltzville also has 15 miles of trails to explore, including the Saw Mill Trail. You can get more details of the other trails by going to the park office and requesting the Beltzville Trail Guide.

It has been some time since I've been back to Beltzville State Park, and it is still as beautiful there as it was a few years ago. The people are generally friendly and it is a great place to take the family for a day or a whole week.

History of Saw Mill Trail

Similar to the Switchback Trail in Jim Thorpe, the Saw Mill Trail is mostly a historic walk. While on it, you will see the remains of the old gristmill raceway. There are also small ponds, a grotto, and a slate quarry dating back to the 1700s. The remains can be seen clearly on the trail and make for interesting photographs.

Trail Details

The Saw Mill Trail is not difficult to hike. It is listed as an easy trail. Depending on the loop you take, you will only be walking 1 to 1.25 miles. Most of the terrain is hard ground. Some of the areas are grassy and there was a lot of poison ivy along one section of the trail.

There were a number of people hiking the trail on the day that I visited, but it was not overcrowded and the people on the trail were friendly.

There was also a lot of evidence of bear along the trail. This is hardly surprising as it is bear territory. However, we did not see any bear at the time, only where one had scratched the bark off a tree and torn a rotting log apart.

Who Should Walk the Trail

Saw Mill Trail is not wheelchair accessible. The trail is relatively fine for supervised children to walk. My sister took to the trail with three small children and was able to complete the trail with little trouble. I hiked it with my two teenage children and infant without incident. Parents do need to be aware that there is some poison ivy along a section of the trail and that it is bear country. Do not let your children out of sight. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are kept on a leash.

What to Take on the Trail

While the trail is relatively short, there are a few things you should consider taking before hiking it.

  • Bug spray. I don't normally use bug spray, but this is one time that I wish I had brought some along. There are some spots with stagnant water and the bugs were unbearable in a few areas.
  • Water. Never go on a hike without your water bottle. While it is a short walk, you will need to replenish yourself from time to time, especially in the summertime. Do not drink the creek water.
  • Snack bar. There is a place along the trail where you can sit down and enjoy a light snack. Bring a snack bar along, an apple, or some other light food to eat.
  • Flashlight. I wish I had brought a flashlight along with me on this trail so that I could get a better view among some of the rock. Next time, I will keep a flashlight in my backpack.
  • Pants. If you get bad reactions to poison ivy or if the bugs are bad on the day you visit, make the walk more enjoyable by wearing a light pair of pants.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Become a Social Media Specialist and Find Social Media Jobs

What is a Social Media Job

Someone who works in a social media job has experience in building Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media accounts. They can show experience and skill in brand development, written communications, and marketing. Some social media positions are in-house while other positions allow telecommuting, meaning the social media position is a work from home job. Your job, as a social media expert, is to be the internet face of the company or person you are working for. You might post sales, links to articles, links to coupons, and touring dates. You will need to interact with people online in a friendly and helpful manner.

Do Not Pay for Social Media Job Listings

If you keep watch on and on, you will never have a need to pay for social media job listings. In fact, avoid any website that wants you to pay to look at their job listings. There are so many free job listings to view, that you will not find a paid to view website helpful in your job search.

How Much Can I Earn in Social Media

According to, social media salaries average out to about $55,000 a year. However, other people report that it is better to set yourself up as a freelance social media expert. This way, you can get contracts to work for multiple companies and, in turn, earn a lot more money than you would working for just one company.

How to Find Social Media Jobs Online

Finding social media jobs online is very easy. First, you can watch for social media jobs posted in your area on, however is the best online search engine for finding social media jobs. To set up a watch for social media jobs posted across multiple job sites, go to Type "social media" into the "what" box. You can leave the "where" box empty or fill in the city, state, or zip code you want to find a job in. Click on the "Find Jobs" button. When the job listings are showing on your screen, scroll to the bottom of the screen and enter your email address so that you get email updates for the latest jobs in social media.

Get Social Media Freelance Work

Being a freelance social media expert is fast becoming a popular side job for many socially talented people. Still others are making their freelance work into a full time job. Like freelance writers, freelance social media specialists are considered self employed and they actively seek new contracts for income. To become a freelance social media expert:

  • Set up and maintain a professional profile and page on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, My Space, and other social media websites.
  • Keep up to date with the latest online marketing trends by reading online news reports.
  • Read as many books as you can on online marketing and social media websites.
  • Create a simple brochure or business cards for your freelance business.
  • Visit local businesses and shops. Speak to the owners and discuss online marketing with them and let them know that you are for hire to develop their online presence.
  • Network with as many people as possible. You cannot be an introvert for this line of work. Attend conventions, seminars, and any gathering of business owners so that you can discuss the importance of getting and maintaining a social media presence.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to Use Different Kinds of Fresh Mint

Different Types of Mints

There are many different kinds of mint plants, such as curly mint, peppermint, spearmint, as well as apple mint, chocolate mint, and orange mint.When a recipe calls for mint, but it doesn't state which kind of mint, try using either curly mint or the peppermint or spearmint. Avoid using catmint and catnip.

If you plan on growing different mints in your garden, make sure to keep the different varieties separated. Mint generally grows like crazy. By keeping the different varieties of mint separated, you can more easily keep the mint plants under control.

Some mints will also grow very well in pots. I have had a lot of success growing chocolate mint in pots. However, I find that spearmint grows best in my garden.

Minted Green Beans or Beets

The next time you make fresh green beans, add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of freshly chopped mint to the water you boil the beans in. Cook as you normally do. Drain water, leaving the mint leaves in with the green beans, and add butter and pepper to taste. You can make minted beets in the same way. Just omit the pepper.

Using Mints in Cooking and Baking

Using fresh mint in the kitchen is not as popular as it used to be. Fresh mint can be chopped and added to butter to make mint butter, it can be used as a garnish, and added to salads. Vegetables were commonly boiled with fresh mint, including baby potatoes, peas, beets, and green beans. Mint jelly is also made with fresh mint leaves.

Lemon and Mint French Dressing

This easy to make salad dressing recipe makes roughly 1 cup of dressing. Make it on the day you plan to use it. The fresher it is, the better it tastes.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped mint
1/2 tsp salt
A few grains cayenne
2 Tbsp honey

Put all ingredients into salad dressing bottle. Close bottle and shake well. Shake before each use. Keep refrigerated.

Strong Peppermint Tea

To make a good, strong peppermint tea, pour 2 cups of boiling water over a 1/4 cup of bruised peppermint leaves. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain and serve. This hot tea can be served with lemon wedges and sugar.

Lemon Mint Iced Tea

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over 1/4 cup over bruised mint leaves. Add the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and chill. Makes 2 servings. Recipe can be doubled or tripled for a larger amount of iced tea.

Ginger Mint Tea

2 cups water
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
4 lightly bruised mint leaves
2 tsp lemon juice
Bring water, ginger root, mint leaves, and lemon juice to a boil. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and let steep for 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold. Makes 2 large or 3 small servings.

Pineapple Mint Juice

Add 1 cup fresh peppermint and 2 cups pineapple juice to blender. Blend until mint is chopped. Add several ice cubes to blender and blend again. Serve immediately. A great summer afternoon drink and a quick pick-me-up after gardening or mowing the lawn.

Quick Camomile Peppermint Tea

1 camomile tea bag
3 to 4 leaves of fresh peppermint, lightly bruised
1 cup boiling water
Steep camomile tea bag and peppermint leaves in boiled water for 5 minutes. Drink hot with either a lemon wedge or orange wedge. Can be sweetened with sugar or honey, if desired. Makes 1 serving.

Quick Fresh Mint Uses

There are many wonderful uses for fresh mint leaves. Here are just a few ideas to get you started on using your garden mints.

  • Chew on a fresh mint leaf to freshen your breath.
  • Use mint leaves to garnish your fruit salad.
  • A mint salad can be made by mixing up fresh peas, lettuce, and mint leaves.
  • Use mint leaves to garnish a glass of fresh lemonade or freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Add a fresh, bruised leaf or two of mint to your normal tea to give it extra flavor.
  • Add 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint to chocolate pudding mix to make a mint chocolate pudding.
  • Serve vanilla or chocolate ice cream with a sprig of mint.
  • Place some freshly picked mint in the car as a natural car freshener.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How to Make an App for the iPhone and iPad for Geeks and Non-Geeks

Your Idea for an App

Wouldn't it be wonderful to make an app from scratch for the Apple iPhone and iPad? Well, before you get all dreamy, there are numerous things you need to think through and plan out before you actually battle the process of programming the app.

Purpose and Income

What is the purpose of your app? Will your app be a game or will it be a tool? Will your app be promoting your business, book, or website? Before you start creating the actual app, write out the purpose of your app - entertainment, promotional tool, instructional, etc.

Once you understand what the purpose of your app will be, you will need to decide how you will financially benefit from your app. Creating an app takes time and money. If it is a promotional app, you will then plan on earning money through exposure to your business or product. If the app is a stand alone app, consider ways to gain income directly from the app, either through banner ads or through sales.

Who is the App Made For

Who is the target audience for the app? Kids, teenagers, adult office workers, book lovers, etc. When you know your target audience, you will be better able to market your app using tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social outlets.


Are there other apps like yours on the market? Try out the other apps. Read the user reviews. For your app to succeed, there must be something that sets it apart from similar apps. What are users saying about similar apps? Pay attention to what users like and dislike about each app and take these user experiences into consideration when developing your own app.

No Code App Builders

Once you understand what app you want to build, you can begin looking into different ways to make your app. App builders are starting to spring up everywhere online. These no code app builders allow people with no coding and no programming experience to build apps for a variety of devices.

  • The App Builder - The App Builder is a good tool if you are planning on creating a promotional or instructional app. The App Builder is free. It funds itself by placing a small banner on your app. If you want your app to be without a banner, there is a small monthly fee.
  • AppBreeder - An online iPhone app builder. Build your app with one of their app kits: band, realty, club or events, lawyer, portfolio, tour, teaching, business, restaurant, and custom kits. There are also a number of features you can add to your apps. Sign up is free.
  • Appy Pie - An online drag and drop app builder. The basic app builder is a free promotional tool. If you want an app with product listings, there is a monthly fee.
  • Buzz Touch - Use pre-written code or create your own code for your apps. This app builder provides online lessons for creating your own app. Guests are allowed to create up to 3 hosted apps for free. Paid members get a lot more benefits than the guests.
  • Apps Bar - Build your promotional app for free with this online app builder. Game apps are also available.

iPhone Source Codes

Another way to create an app for the iPhone and iPad is use source codes. There are a great number of free, open source codes available online. You will want to check out's website for open source iPhone and iPad Apps for a large list of the free apps. With these open source apps, you can reskin them - change the graphics and logo - and theme the apps any way you like.

If you can not find what you are looking for in the free source codes, you can also search for "iPhone source codes" and find places to purchase source codes that you can customize. is one place to look if you are interested in buying codes. However, the prices for source codes can be expensive.

Apps from Scratch

If you want to make iPhone and iPad apps from scratch, you will need a Mac computer and you will need to download Apple's Xcode, the developer toolset for building iPhone and iPad apps.

After you have downloaded Xcode, you should begin reading as many free online tutorials as you can to get a firm understanding of how to develop your app. Check out these online instructions, help guides, and tutorials:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Weight Loss Apps for Your iPad

Start Losing Weight Now

Counting calories isn't what it used to be. You can now use your iPad to look up how many calories you are consuming, how many calories you are working off, and you can keep a daily log of your weight. All these things help you stay on track with your weight loss goals and keep your motivated to get into shape.

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker is a free app helps you keep track of the calories you have eaten and the calories you have worked off through exercise. It has a calories counter with over 2 million foods and it helps you keep track of your daily calorie intake. A great tool for weight loss.

Lose It!

Lose It! is a free app helps you keep track of your calorie intake with a calorie budget calculator. Keep track of how many calories you can eat each day and how much exercise you need to do to use up calories. App has a database of foods and their calories as well as exercises and calorie usage. It also gives you reports on your activities and progress through your weight loss program.

Diet Tracker & Healthy Food Nutrition Scanner

Diet Tracker & Healthy Food Nutrition Scanner is a free app helps you keep track of your diet, the calories you consume, and the calories you work off with exercise. You can also search through food products to decide which food is the healthiest for you and create healthy food shopping lists.

DailyBurn Tracker

DailyBurn Tracker is a free app that lets you keep track of calories eaten and worked off. It also has a food database so you can look up foods. You can also keep track of your carbs and sodium intake.

Your Ideal Weight

Your Ideal Weight. What is the ideal weight for your height and age? Find out with this free app for your iPad.

Fast Food Calories

Fast Food Calories. Find out how many calories, carbs, and fat are in the fast food choices you make with this free app.

Lose the Belly

Lose the Belly is a free app that provides you with links to the best belly weight loss exercises.

BMI Calculator

BMI Calculator. Calculate your BMI (body mass index) with this free app.

Weight Recorder

Weight Recorder is a very simple, free app that lets you keep track of your weight and view your progress with a chart.

My Diet Coach

Get the motivation you need to lose weight with My Diet Coach. This free app helps you resist food craving, overcome laziness when it comes to your exercises, and helps keep you on track with your weight loss goals.

Motivate Yourself

Weight loss trackers and calories counters are excellent motivator tools. They are not reminders of diet failure, but they are a great way to examine your personal diet habits. If you find that you cheat on your calorie intakes, don't punish yourself. Instead, set smaller goals to reduce how many calories you eat in a day. You can start by cutting back as little as 5 calories every few days until you reach your calorie goal. The same goes with exercise. Many of us start off as exercise lazy. Set smaller exercise goals for yourself and slowly work yourself up to a full fitness program that you can manage and enjoy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

10 Best List Making and Grocery List Apps for Your iPhone and iPad

Plan It Out

Whether you are going grocery shopping or you want to plan out your day, making lists is an important step to managing your money and your time. With the free apps listed below, you can use your iPhone or iPad to plan out your trips to the grocery store, plan out your exercise routines, decide what you need to get done around the house, and plan out your business start up step by step. There are so many uses for lists because they can be such an effective tool.

Errands To-Do List

Errands To-Do List by Yoctoville is a free app for iPads and iPhones. With this app users are able to create checklists, organize lists into folders, schedule alerts for tasks, use images, and view a calendar with your due dates. This is a great app for planning out tasks and setting goal dates.


Evernote is a free and very popular app for iPad and iPhone. With this app, you can create lists, take notes, plan a vacation or just your day, and record voice reminders.

Any.DO To-Do list

Any.DO To-Do list  list by Any.DO is a free app for your iPad or iPhone. With this app you can create lists, folder, take notes, set reminders, view the calendar, and add times and locations. You can also share your lists.

Free Grocery Gadget Shopping List

Free Grocery Gadget Shopping List by Flixoft, Inc is a free app for your iPhone or iPad. With this app users can easily prepare shopping lists. Arrange your shopping list by your store's aisles, match coupons to the items on your list, and create shopping lists by stores. This is a great app to get your shopping organized.

Sticky Notes for iPad

Sticky Notes for iPad is a free app for your iPad. Unlike other list making apps, this app features sticky notes that you can use for quick to do lists and grocery lists. You can also dictate notes by voice and move notes around on your screen. This is just a quick way to give yourself fast reminders of the things you need to accomplish.

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk is another fun, free app to help you make to do and grocery lists. Create lists, organize and prioritize tasks, set up time estimates, repeating tasks, and set up reminders. There is a lot you can do with this list app - excellent for boosting your productivity.

Grocery List Free by Skript, LLC is a free app for your iPhone or iPad. It is a simple, easy to use app that most of us can enjoy using. Stop using snippets of paper that can be easily lost. Download and try out this basic shopping list app.

Organizer To-Do

Organizer To-Do: The Complete Planner by, LLC is a free app for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Very easy to use, this app has a calendar and lets you make grocery lists and task lists. You can set tasks to repeat and also have an overdue folder for tasks you have fallen behind on.


AnyList – Grocery Shopping List & Recipes by Purple Cover, Inc. is a free app for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. This app allows you to create and share shopping lists and recipes. Grocery items are categorized for easier shipping and you can enter your own recipes and organize the recipes into categories.

Reminder & Countdown

Reminder & Countdown by Sergey Astakhov is a free app that is great for keeping your mind set on the due date. Set up tasks, events, deadlines and this app will create a countdown to the end time. At a glance, you will see how much time you have left to buy a birthday present, give a speech, turn in papers, and more.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Best Pastry Blender

I cannot believe I have survived this long - 40 years - without a pastry blender. I just bought the OXO Good Grips Dough Blender with Blades and WOW! For years, I have used a fork to blend my pie crusts and biscuits. It was a pain in the ass, but I happily pressed on, oblivious that there was a simpler way. Now that I have my pastry blender, I am making excuses to use it. Soon the teens will be sick of eating biscuits and I will have to put the toy away until the apples are in and I can make apple pie.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spells and a Meditation to Help Change Your Life

Let Go and Seek Out

Have you ever been told you can't do something? That you will never be able to live your dream or meet your goal? I certainly have. I remember sitting in the guidance counselor's office and being asked what my plans were after I graduate. I told Mrs. Miller that I was going to be a writer. "Oh no!" she said. "You will never make it as a writer. You have shown no talent in your English courses and you don't do well in your other classes. Perhaps you should look into a secretarial job? Or go into healthcare?" I was crushed. Maybe Mrs. Miller was right?

Mrs. Miller's words bugged me for another 8 years. I would sit down, write articles and short stories, but I wouldn't pursue publication. After all, shortly after Mrs. Miller told me I couldn't be a writer, I dropped out of school and went to work in the mall. No one would want to read what I wrote. It took a glass of wine and a cleverly crafted pen name to get myself to send out a few submissions and, before long, I was writing full time.

Listen to me: No one can tell you that you can't do what you love and succeed. Let go of every negative remark or comment you have ever received. They do you no good. You know what you want to do with your life and you are going to succeed.

Letting Go Meditation

The Little Trash Men In Your Head

When I was 15, my mother and I were busy enjoying the New Age workshops that were prevalent at the time. We did group meditations, guided mediations, and we joined in the women's circles. It was a fun time, but many of the mediation were too… what's the word? Mystical, cluttered, and missing the point. I decided to clear my mind of negativities my own way.

In your head, living in tunnels between your ears, are two tiny little trash men (or trash ladies). Together, they take out all the crap that you've accumulated in your mind.

Lie down comfortably on your back. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out slowly. Let your belly rise with each inhale and sink with each exhale. You feel relaxed.

I want you to picture a large metal trash can sitting in the middle of your brain. This is where all the bad thoughts go.

While still breathing in and out deeply, I want you to bring up something negative that was said to you. If someone told you that you can't be what you want to be, pluck the entire negative scene out of your brain and throw it in the trash can. If someone insulted you, toss the comment in the trash. If there was an embarrassing situation, yank it out by its roots and trash it.

When you are finished trashing the negative thoughts in your head, see the two trash men pick up the large trash can and, together, picture them walking it through the tunnel between your ears. They little men step out of an ear (left or right, it does not matter) and dump the trash can out onto the floor.

The little men return to your head. The negative trash is gone. And you slowly reach up with your arms and stretch.

For best results, perform this little mediation every night before bed or during any stressful time during the day. Throw out all the junk that hurts you and holds you back.

Bury It Spell

Another method of getting rid of negative thoughts you have about yourself is to bury the problem. Let it rot away, return to the Earth, and be dispersed into the soil where the negative energy is changed by the Earth and put to good use.

Take a piece of paper, recycled paper, homemade paper, or even one of those brown paper towels that break down in the soil easily. Write something negative about yourself or something negative someone else told you. For example, someone could write "So-and-so said my cooking is terrible."

Fold the piece of paper in half. Take it to a park or the woods, someplace off your property, and bury the paper in the Earth. Hold your writing hand, palm down, over the spot where you buried the paper and say to yourself:

Dead and buried
Rot and gone
Back to Earth
Change is come

As you are learning to let go, you will also be learning to seek out. There is nothing to hold you back from becoming great in what you love to do. There is nothing to stop you from becoming successful. It's time to focus on your goals and how you will be able to earn a living doing what you love to do. If someone told you that your cooking is terrible, but you want to be a cook for a living, it is time to let go of what the other person said to you and seek out your goal - to become an excellent cook.

So, what DO you love to do? Do you love to draw, bake, or write? Do you want to help other people, children, or animals? Do you want to start your own business or get a dream job?

If you're not sure what path you want to follow, then it's time to do some research and trial runs. Learn everything about what interests you. If you love beading, take out books on beading from the library. Research the topic on the internet. Speak to other beading artists and visit craft shows. Life is so full of many wonderful things. Explore everything that interests you.

Choosing a Path

Do you have so many interests that you don't know where to start? Let the spirits guide you. Take several slips of paper and write one interest on each piece. Fold each paper in half and place it in a bowl. Set the bowl down in front of you. Close your eyes and ask the spirits:

Like metal to a magnet
Like a bee to honey
Bring me to my path

With your eyes still closed, select a slip of paper from the bowl. Open your eyes and read what you have been drawn to.

Once you know what you enjoy doing or have chosen a dream to make real, you must follow it through. Life is too short to come up with excuses that prevent you from following your dream and being successful. Focus on what you want and don't let anyone sway you from your path.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thoughts to Ponder About Yourself

The First Step to Change Your Life

Over and over again, we all have moments where we wish we could change our lives, do something different, be someone else. What many people do not realize is that they can bring about change in their lives. It all begins with thought. Here are several things for you to ponder. Spend time thinking about what you would do, how you would change, and what small actions you can make today and slowly over time to change yourself into who you want to be.

Be Anything You Want

If you could be anything, what would you be? What occupation would you have? Would you be a firefighter, a singer, an artist, or something else? Grab a pencil and paper and start jotting down what you would like to be. If there is only one thing you would want to be, write it down. If you can not come with any interests, search the internet for occupation ideas.

Once you have something written down on the paper, write down why you would want to be that particular thing. Make a list, be honest, be vain, be humble. Only you are going to see this list.

If you have multiple things to be on your list, write down reasons why you would want to be them for each occupation. Is there a common thread? Will you be playing hero in each one? Will you be the star in each role? Do the occupations focus on intelligence or giving?

Give thought to your conclusions. What is it about the roles you want to play that interests you the most?

If You Could Be Anyone

If you could be anyone in the world, who would you be? Write down each person you think you would want to be. Next to each name, write down the traits or accomplishments that you admire about this person. Make note of any common themes among the names you chose. Ask yourself how you could acquire the admirable traits they have or had. What changes can you make in your life to work on the traits you admire.

What Is Stopping You

You can view life as a long, tedious journey, full of obstacles and disappointments. You will trudge along, expecting constant disappointments and, on occasion, be surprised by a momentary success (some people call it luck). If you want a more fulfilling life, if you want to go after your dreams and desires, you will need to change the way you view your life.

Tell yourself that life is a fascinating and inspiring journey. Life is full of challenges that are meant to test your abilities and help you grow. Challenges prepare you for the journey ahead. As you face each challenge, the road ahead shifts closer towards your goals.

What is stopping you from going after your dreams, goals, and desires? Write down each of your obstacles. After you complete your list of perceived obstacles, sit back and examine each item on your list. Ask yourself if it is truly an obstacle. Why is it an obstacle? How is it stopping you from doing what you want to do? If it is stopping you from achieving your goals, then how can you remove the block? What is the challenge?

Write down your thoughts for each obstacle. Make a plan of action to face each challenge.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Homeschool with Little Money

Using What's Available

As a mother of two teenage children, I remember having to scour the web for free worksheets - anything to keep down the costs of homeschooling. I used the local libraries for books on history, science, and reading books. I would spend free time reading through children's books and making my own worksheets for schooling the next day, or, when I had a free weekend, I would be able to prepare worksheets for an entire week or two.

Homeschooling children properly and with little money can be a lot of work, but it is all worth the extra effort. Not only do your children learn about new subjects and ideas, but you, the parent, also get to learn or relearn basic interesting concepts about a wide variety of subjects that you can share and enjoy with your children.

Finding Free Homeschool Resources

Some great places to look for lesson ideas include:

  • Local libraries. When homeschooling both my children, I used the resources from 3 local libraries. Not only did we take out books, we borrowed educational videos to watch and discuss. We used books on tape for story time. For music class, we borrowed classical music cds and books to learn about different composers.
  • Newspaper. The local newspaper sometimes runs interesting pieces on local history. I would read these interesting articles to my kids, discuss, and sometimes even visit the locations with the kids. This counted as local history.
  • Nature walks. For physical education, science, and local history, we would take nature walks at the local parks. Pamphlets are usually available detailing the history of the park. If you can't get a hold of a pamphlet, use the internet to research the park and share the history of the park with your children. The walking is counted as physical education. Any wildlife, interesting rocks, plants, or trees found and identified can be included as science.
  • Used book sales. Local libraries and clubs often have used book sales where you can purchase educational books cheaply. Children's arts and crafts books are often found at these sales for under a dollar.
  • University libraries. My biggest money saver as a homeschooler came from a local university. The library is open to people who have registered for a free library card. Search your area for colleges and universities and call them. These places often have the same textbooks, workbooks, and teacher's manuals that are used by the schools. At my local university library, I was able to take out the educational material for up to two weeks. I was also able to photocopy the workbooks that I then printed and used in homeschooling.

Creating Your Own Worksheets

When I borrowed children's books from the libraries, I would often read through each book beforehand and decide on what type of worksheet I would create for the lesson.

  • If the book was about something visual, such as colors or butterflies, I would simply have the kids get out their crayons and draw and color a picture relating to the book.
  • For storybooks, I would create multiple choice worksheets. First the children would either read or listen to the story and then they would complete the worksheet afterwards.
  • The simplest way for me to create a question or multiple choice worksheet was in Microsoft Work. If I wanted to add visual elements to the worksheet, I would lay it out in a graphics program, such as Adobe Photoshop.
  • When the children were just learning how to count or add, I would use markers to make their worksheets. Sticker dots were used for counting, adding, and subtracting. Candy was also used for math and color identification.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Get Free Reviews for Your Kindle Book

You Published Your Book, Now What?

You are so excited. You just published your first (or 20th) Kindle book and are ready to sit back and wait for the sales to magically begin. Days may go by. Weeks. Month. You have had no sales and you are beginning to wonder what is going wrong.

One of the best ways to get people to buy your book is to get your book reviewed. How do you get reviews before you have made any sales? Read on.

Join KDP Select

If your book is only available on Kindle, you will want to add your book KDP Select. You can do this when you log onto your KDP account. Go to Bookshelf, click the box next to your book, and, under Actions, click KDP Select Details.

After your book is accepted into the KDP Select program, you can run a free promotion. This means you can have your book offered for free for up to 5 days every 90 days. To run a free promotion, go to Bookshelf, click the box next to your book, click on the Actions button and select Manage Promotions. Select the 5 days you want to have your book offered for free.

Contact Website Owners

After you have selected the days you want your book offered for free, you will want to search the internet for websites that are related to your book's topic. For example, if you wrote a book on quilting, you will want to search for websites and even blogs that discuss quilting.

Write a short and concise paragraph that tells, in one sentence, who you are and what your book is about. Next, let the website owners know when the book will be offered for free. Finally, request a review. Do not be afraid to ask people to also write a 1 or 2 sentence review on, as well.

The more reviews you can get from outside sources, websites, blogs, etc., the more likely you are to bring in buyers who will purchase your book after the free period and review your book on

Avoid Impersonal PR Emails

As a reviewer, website owner, and writer for, I can say that after years of writing reviews, I delete nearly all forms of press releases emailed to me. I am tired of the heavy graphics and the impersonal nature of the PR campaigns. I also don't want to read through paragraphs of small text just to find out what product is being offered.

Social Media

If you haven't done so already, request reviews of your book from your Facebook and Twitter friends. Build your social lists to include people who are interested in your topic. When you run a free promotion, let everyone on your social lists know that your book is available for free for a short time and tell them you would appreciate reviews.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to Make a Plain French Dressing

Making your own salad dressings is very easy to do. What you need to begin is a very simple recipe, such as this recipe for plain french dressing. After you've tested it out, you can begin to add more things to it. For example, you can add a few drops of worcestershire sauce to it. Or you can put it in a blender with some chopped parsley and onion slices and give it a zip. The list of experimentation goes on and on: garlic, hot peppers, green peppers, tomato, tabasco sauce, etc.


  • 1 cup salad oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • Dash pepper


  1. Place all ingredients in a bottle and shake.
  2. Shake before each use.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bring in the good luck!

From August 13th to August 17th, my book, Get Lucky: Good Luck Superstitions and Lore, will be available for free download at, read, and review!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cheap Ways to Keep Your House Warm in the Winter

Candle Heat

When the nights get chilly, I have always enjoyed lighting a candle or two in the room I was in to add some warmth and glow. Many ingenious people have taken the heat from a single candle and turned it into a decent source of heat for a small area.
  • How to make a candle heater - This page has instructions on how to make a candle heater with terra cotta pots. More interesting are the comments from readers at the end of the article.

Heat from the Sun

During the winter months, you will want to get as much heat from the sun as you possibly can.
  • Open blinds and curtains during sunny days to let the sun help heat up the room.
  • In sunny rooms, place a dark colored throw rug on the floor. It will hold the heat from the sun well after the sun goes down.
  • One person put up instructions for his own solar heater made with soda cans.
  • Bubble wrap your windows. You are insulating your windows while still allowing the sun to come in during the day.

Tackle Cold Spots

  • Hang wall quilts on cold walls.
  • Sew draft stoppers to place at the bottom of doors and windows.
  • Close off unused rooms.
  • Cover bare floors with area rugs.


In older houses, you will probably lose most of your heat through drafty, old windows. Take steps to prevent cold air from getting in and heat from getting out.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Winter Display Potpourri Recipe

Make this easy winter potpourri for display in bowls and small baskets.

1 pint fir cones
1 pint mixed scented woods
1 ounce orris root powder
1 ounce rosemary
3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
4 tonka beans
3 drops cedar wood oil
3 drops sandalwood oil
1 drop frankincense oil
Decorate mixture with dried flowers of choice.