Miss Beatrix Potter Hen

Miss Beatrix Potter Hen
Miss Bea posing for Mama!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fun Budget Savvy Date Night Ideas!




Creativity is the key to enjoying regular FUN date nights with your sweetheart while keeping your bank account happy and healthy at the same time! Romance doesn't have to be expensive, just romantic! So, say phooey to the current economy and give some of these simple, inexpensive, and creative ideas a go!

  • Go on a traditional picnic! Checkered blanket in hand, picnic basket stuffed to the gills with old fashioned goodies like fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, fresh fruit, cheeses, a jug of  sweet tea or lemonade and a scrump-deli-icious sweet dessert to cap off your meal and your set to go! Head on out to a nearby lake or park and enjoy! Simply enjoy each other's company, chatting away the hours while feasting on simple homemade delights. No reservations required! Who knows, picnicking may become a new dating tradition! 
  • Take a walk through a nearby historic town, browsing the quaint shops and wares. Many of these small towns are lit up at night which adds that special romantic touch to an already lovely evening! 
  • Stay IN! Wait until your young cherubs have turned out their lights and have your very own popcorn and movie night right there in your own family room. No worries about paying exorbitant prices for movie tickets, waiting in line, or missing the best part because you needed a bathroom break. And, you can smooch with your sweetheart in the privacy of your own theater!
  • Go for a "Sunday Drive" on a Friday or Saturday evening, throwing caution to the wind and just winding around the nearby back country roads. Of course if you live smack dab in the middle of a great big city, you may have to travel a bit to get to the peaceful countryside, but I guarantee you, it's great fun!
  • Take a hike through nature! Hold hands and chat about this and that as you admire the beauty and splendor of God's creation! Or, just be quiet and listen. Nature will play her own melodies for your listening pleasure! Perhaps, you have an eye for a perfect photograph...take along your camera and let nature take it's course!
  • Marvel at the magnificence of a museum's many treasures! Many museums offer free admission on Sundays! Be an art critic, satisfy your inner history buff, reminisce or ponder antique displays of days gone by, stare in awe at well crafted wax look-a-likes, or envision yourselves behind the wheels of Henry Ford's baby, the Model T!
  • Take up a mutually satisfying new hobby, activity, or sport together! Try your hand at tennis, photography, or kayaking! Perhaps, host a weekly Italian Cuisine night and create a new dish each week, reveling in the intoxicating smells, taste testing, and garlic's health benefits a plenty! Again, wait until the kids say goodnight, after all, those quirky Europeans do tend to dine a bit later than we do! Or maybe you're a natural at languages and have always wanted to learn the "Oh so very romantic" French language. These days you can find lots of online courses for free. So, Ooo La La get to it!
  • Volunteer together! While this activity offers you the chance to spend quality time together, it certainly gives new meaning to quality time!
  • For all you bibliophiles out there, why not host a Book Club for Two! Take turns choosing books or authors and settle down on the couch, with a pleasingly aromatic cup of your favorite coffee in hand and chat about the mysterious plot twists, the brave protagonist, the naivete of a victim, or an unexpected ending! 
Well, I hope one of these suggestions will find it's way into your dayplanner or perhaps, these ideas inspired a spark of creativity in you and you came up with your own unique budget friendly date night! I say, "Kudos to you-dos!"

Just keep in mind, that romance doesn't have to be expensive, just romantic!!!!!!!

Happy date night to you all!!!!

Karen


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blueberry Scrump-deli-icious Buckle!





  I absolutely ADORE blueberries! I pop 'em in my mouth as a healthy snack, I mix 'em up in my morning bowl of Cheerios to add a bit of color and extra flavor, I bake 'em up in muffins for a yummy breakfast, brunch, or dinner side, and I add 'em in by the cupful to bake up the one, the only, the most delightful Blueberry Scrump-deli-icious Buckle! Yet again, another yummy healthy alternative to regular coffee cakes and other baked goods saturated in saturated fats and cholesterol!

Ingredients:
1         Cup Sugar
4         Tablespoons I Can't Believe It's Not Butter or other Low Fat Butter or Margarine
1/2      Cup Fat-Free Milk
1/2      Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2         Egg Whites- lightly beaten
2 1/2   Cups Unbleached or All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2   Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4      Teaspoon Salt
2         Cups Blueberries- Frozen or Fresh
1         Teaspoon Cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Coat an 11" x 7" baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the
    butter or margarine. Mix until smooth. Stir in the milk, applesauce, and egg whites.
4. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the baking powder and salt. Mix well,
    then add to the milk mixture. Stir until just moistened.
5. Gently stir in blueberries.
6. Spoon into prepared pan.
7. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and the remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar and
    1/2 cup of the flour. Add in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter/ margarine and cut in
     until the mixture is crumbly.
8. Sprinkle over the blueberry mixture.
9. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and bubbly.

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Calories                   185
Fat                              3 g.
Cholesterol                  5 mg.
Carbohydrates           36 g.
Sodium                    115 mg.
Protein                         4 g.


In this house, blueberries definitely win the award for "Most Impressive Fruit or Berry" Plus, blueberries are chock full of oodles and oodles of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, now there's a vocabulary word for you. Phytonutrients or plant chemicals, not only help plants fight the big fight against bugs, fungus, and germs, but also help our bodies to work properly and prevent disease!

So, with all this in mind, get ready, get set, and go, go, go mix up a batch of blueberry goodness!!!

This recipe for Blueberry Scrump-deli-icious Buckle is adapted from Jeanne Jones'  Homestyle Cooking Made Healthy- 200 Classic American Favorites (All low in fat with the Original Flavor!)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Healthy Delicious Chocolate Zucchini Bread!



For me, the end of August finds me daydreaming of the soon to come cool crisp autumn days with red, yellow, and orange leaves dancing in the breeze, sipping hot cocoa at football games, and reveling in the joys of harvest time! 

Ahh, harvest time is indeed upon us and with recipes in hand, I'm soooo ready to bake up some yummy muffins and sweet breads for those cool mornings yet to come or as a sweet side to a chilly chili night.

Enter Chocolate Zucchini Bread! As one of the more zealous garden vegetables, zucchini will definitely add a little zest to your baked goods and meals. Adding shredded zucchini to muffins, homemade pancakes or waffle batter, or sweet breads will give your recipes added moisture and a bit of extra texture, as well as, the added benefits of substantial doses of Vitamin C and Potassium to boot! 

This recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread is both deliciously sweet and happily healthy and makes 2 lovely loaves-one for now and one to pop in the freezer to accompany a meal down the road!

Ingredients:
3       Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2    Cup Cocoa
2       Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2    Teaspoon   Baking Powder
2       Teaspoons Cinnamon
2       Cups Sugar
4       Large Eggs (feel free to substitute a couple of egg whites for 1 whole egg for less cholesterol)
2/3    Cup Fat Replacement (applesauce, Greek Yogurt, or canned pumpkin puree, etc.)
2       Teaspoons Vanilla
4       Cups Shredded Zucchini

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. Spray (2) 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, fat replacement, and vanilla until well blended.
5. Stir shredded zucchini into the sugar mixture.
6. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir just until moistened.
7. Pour the batter into the pans.
8. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Cool in pan, then transfer to a wire rack for additional cooling.
10. Store wrapped in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information:                                                    
Calories             150
Protein                  3 g.
Carbohydrates    23 g.
Fat                       6 g.
Saturated Fat        1 g.
Dietary Fiber         1 g.
Cholesterol         26 mg.
Sodium               94 mg.

This recipe was adapted from the original found in The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific Cookbook!
Thank you Holly for giving us weight watching folks such yummy and sweet alternatives!
            

So, go ahead and serve up some chocolaty goodness for breakfast, brunch, as a yummy snack for your children, or as a sweet to eat side on a chilly autumn evening! Any way you serve it, this Chocolate Zucchini Bread is bound to be a hit!

Enjoy!
Karen


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yummy Low Fat Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie!





Reese's Peanut Butter Cups...mmmmmmm! With that "Oh so special"  blend of nutty peanut butter and sweet creamy chocolate, they're simply delicious! Pop some in the refrigerator for a bit and they are such a cool treat on a hot summer afternoon! And, because of their scrump-deli- icious-ness, they definitely earn the rights to the that old potato chip adage that encourages us to eat a few because "... you can't eat just one !"Unfortunately for those of us with a hankering for these luscious little sweeties,just one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is not only loaded with oodles and oodles of sweet flavor, but contains much too much of the bad stuff like fat and cholesterol. So, my health conscious friends, have I got a treat for you!
Enter, this Yummy Low Fat Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie! It's simply a cool Reese's in a glass! And, I guarantee you that from your very first sip you'll fall madly in love with this slim and frosty version! So grab a spot in the shade on your favorite chaise and while away the hours sipping with a good book! Cool never felt soooooo good!

Ingredients:

3 cups Vanilla Flavored Soy Milk (or use regular low fat milk)
1/2 cup Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 cups Ice
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

Combine in blender until the ice is crushed and your sweet smoothie is smoooooth and delectable!!

Nutrition Information:

Calories:              366
Fat:                     14 grams
Saturated Fat:       2 grams !!!
Protein:               15 grams
Carbohydrates:    50 grams
Fiber:                    4 grams
Sodium:             388 grams
Cholesterol:           0 grams !!!

The absolute best thing about this yummy smoothie is it's versatility! Whether you whip it up as a sweet start to your day with a favorite muffin on the side or as a great light meal for lunch, brunch or even dinner, be sure to savor every sip! Or give it a go for an afternoon snack or energy pick-me-up with it's whopping dose of 15 grams of protein!
Perhaps,go ahead and be daring and revamp this yummy smoothie and make it with Low Fat Vanilla Frozen Yogurt instead of milk and use real peanut butter for a frosty summertime shake for your children! Remember though, that you won't need to add in the honey as a sweetener because the frozen yogurt's already sweet enough!! Add this smoothie to your "Winter Wonderland Celebration" from my earlier post, Smiling Summertime Scholars-FUN Activities that Educate!

Feel free to play around with the recipe and perhaps you and your family will create your own unique creamy smooooth concoction of deliciousness that will be the hit of the summer! Be wary though, concoctions such as these tend to become family favorites and may get requested over and over and over and over yet again!!!!

Enjoy!
Karen



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smiling Summertime Scholars-FUN Activities That Educate!


It's summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime, summerti,i,i,i ime! As children, we soooo look forward to this fabulous freedom-filled season! As adults, for some of us, me included, summer is just a hot, sometimes sticky humid, buggy extravaganza that I would just as well skip and jump right into the crisp cool autumn! As longtime homeschoolers, we chose to make it count by whiling away the hours with a good book, watching a classic movie, or writing summer themed journal entries all the while remaining cool as cucumbers in our climate controlled family room!
Oh, we did take some time off! We all need rest and the freedom to refresh ourselves as our creator God knew when He gave us the gracious and lovely gift of the sabbath day! Since we completed our school year during the first week of May, we were officially on vacation until after the Fourth of July celebration! So we reveled  in the joy of  this new found freedom and slept in, hung out in our jammies, ate ice cream for lunch, and just chilled!
Anyway, I would like to share some FUN yet educational activities with all you moms-at-home, homeschoolers, and anyone really who would like to spend some great quality time with your children this summer while they learn a little something along the way!
These are all very simple, "have all the ingredients at the ready" so to speak, activities that not only entertain and engage, but educate as well!

*Create your own wacky "Family Libs"!
* Write a "Co-op" story (short for cooperative story)-the CrAzIeR the better! Each family member gets a different color pen to write with and you just take turns adding a sentence! Who knew writing could be such fun!
* Have an incredibly irresistible indoor picnic and chill out afterwards by playing this CrAzY indoor snowball game...set out some pots and bowls of varying sizes at one end of your family room and label them with point amounts, the larger targets having the smallest point values and the hard to hit smaller targets having large point values! Be forewarned though, this game can and will get a bit rowdy and boisterous and you may even find yourself becoming a target of your dear sweet cherubic children! This makes a great mathematics enrichment activity during the summer months!
* Spend the summer months learning about another country and it's culture! We used to have a large bulletin board on our dining room wall where I would put up either a hand drawn or purchased map along with bits and pieces about that country's culture! We would learn some basic phrases and common words of the language, prepare foods specific to that country, read about it's customs and traditions, watch an historic fiction movie or documentary about the country and even decorate our mini spruce tree with the type of Christmas decorations that would be found on holiday trees in that country. 
* Create the Ultimate! This is a fantastically creative activity which allows your children's unique personality shine! Create the Ultimate vacation, tree house, bedroom, etc. using any medium or combination of materials. For example, your child could build his or her Ultimate Bedroom in a discarded shoe box like a diorama, video tape a home movie of siblings enjoying the Ultimate Vacation, write jingles advertising the Ultimate Resort, paint masterpieces reflective of the place where they would travel to for the Ultimate Vacation...Oh, the possibilities are endless! And, the learning, well, the learning will abound and you may notice your children gaining inspiration from each other and the simple joy of learning will overflow!
* Have a Fitness Fiesta, indoors where it's cool to be fit! Hold indoor potato sack races using older pillow cases! Have a Madcap Marching Marathon-march and clap, march double time, march and tap your knees, march and whistle a catchy tune, march and play the ABC game (choose a theme and take turns naming an item from that theme beginning with each letter of the alphabet), march around the house and up and down the stairs, etc, etc. Once again, the possibilities are only limited by your family's imagination. Oh, and take turns being the Marching Master!
* Learn a new skill- we actually bought one of those How to Juggle Klutz Kits and had a "ball" learning how to juggle! We also learned how to waltz, how to maneuver ourselves into various basic yoga poses each of us donning our version of  appropriate "Yoga Wear", and learned how to perfect the perfect homemade playdoh recipe by adding scent-sational scents with powdered jello mixes! Be wary though of wee ones if you have them, because the scent may be just too tempting not to take a bite as my son did many years ago and made such a face (homemade playdoh is VERY salty) that his story is told far and wide!
* Have a Winter Wonderland celebration and revel in COOLNESS! Donning your slippery-est socks, ice skate around the kitchen while Winter Wonderland plays in the background, have a Marshmallow Snowball Fight, drink milkshakes with dinner, hang up homemade coffee filter snowflakes, read about places with Chilly Climates, build Ingenious Igloos with sugar cubes and/or marshmallows and homemade vanilla butter-cream frosting! 
* For all of your budding young scientists, make homemade ice cream, butter, whipped cream, etc. There are a wealth of  books chock full of excellent experiments at your local library or right at your fingertips through google!

Anyway, the point is to share in the learning experience together and make it Fun, Fun, Fun!!! Your children may even discover a new passion, skill, or talent in the process!

So,get ready, get set, go...learning and laughing all the way! Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, three cheers for summertime scholars!!!

Enjoy!
Karen

Monday, June 9, 2014

Homeschool Happy!

   Ah, the good ol' days of homeschooling...as a homeschool teacher for more than sixteen years, counting the Oh so precious preschool years, I often find myself reminiscing about all those wonderful learning experiences. Remembering the great fun Emily, Jeremy and I had exploring new places, traveling back in time to reenact great moments in history, losing ourselves in exciting stories, becoming great music and art aficionados, ice skating around the kitchen island in our most slipperiest socks while Winter Wonderland plays in the background, and  just discovering, creating, and basking in the joy of  the freedom to homeschool!



   If I were one of my sweet hens, I'd be cluck, cluck, clucking till the cows come home. If I were one of my black kitties, I'd be purrrrring on a soft blanket content as can be. If I were my dog, Pip, I'd be eagerly chewing on a favorite bone while lounging in my soft cozy dog bed. I'm me though, so when my thoughts travel back to our good ol' homeschooling days I am Homeschool Happy!

Simply Knowledge Homeschool
H is for Homeschooling, Hip Hip Hooray!
O is for "Only 1 more math problem and then we're done, I promise"!
M is for Mathematics in real life-budgeting, garden plotting, grocery shopping, time management, etc.!
E is for Ever keeping our eyes on Eternity!
S is for School ROCKS when you're homeschooling!
C is for Creativity !
H is for HELP, I'm a Homeschool Mom!!!!!
O is for Onomatopoeia, Opera, Oceans, Original Obstacle Courses, Ornithology, and Origami!
O is for Oodles of Options!
L is for Love, Learning, Literature, Lightning, Limericks, Laughter and, wait for it...LUNCH!

H is for Homeschooling...HUZZAH!
A is for Ants, Art, Architecture, Animals, Algebra, Acrostic Poems, America, and MORE ANTS and not         the Unit Study kind...EEK!
P is for Pizza fractions!
P is for Pencils and paper...here at the Doll house nothing gets us more giddy than freshly sharpened pencils      and new notebooks, new colors of construction paper from Miller Paper and Pads!
Y is for Yipee, I'm Homeschool Happy!



So, if you too are a Happy Homeschooler go ahead and shout, "Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray! There really should be a Hug A Homeschooler Day, don't you think?

Enjoy!





Sunday, June 8, 2014

Boo !




    In the Beginning...
Boo is my sweet black kitty. She's three years young and overflowing with love and affection. We rescued Boo Boo from our local SPCA after fostering her and her brood of siblings. We actually had two sets of foster kitties at the time rounding out the total to a whopping ten...yes, we had ten foster kittens romping and racing upstairs in our spare bedroom. All females, except the little orange striped guy, Oliver, whom my daughter lovingly referred to as, Liverman and Boo. I fell madly in love with Boo from day one. Immediately upon entering our little kitty haven, Boo always hurried over to me and rubbed back and forth on my ankles, purring to beat the band ! As the purrfectly precious babes grew into their chubby bellies and it neared the time when we would take them back to the shelter so that their families would spot them, I wondered if I would be able to say goodbye to my beloved black baby. There was a glitch though- Boo was a male and my husband had definite feelings about bringing a male cat into our foster haven home. He was afraid that a male cat may mark at the scent of all of the other animal smells throughout the house. So, I respected his opinion and pined away for my Boo in private. Then, on a routine check-up visit at the shelter, the animal care manager and my dear friend, Lucy, told me that Boo was indeed a little girl ! Oh, my goodness, I was elated ! I couldn't believe it, but I felt sheer joy and knew that the Creator Himself, had already picked out Boo's forever family...US !Now, we had fostered many litters previously, and I, of course, fell in love umpteen times and then some, but this time was different. However, we weren't seeking to adopt another pet. We already had a Bichon named Pip and a sassy calico kitty, actually named Kitty. And, at the time, I was researching the possibility of getting a small flock of hens...we all know how that turned out !!! Anyway, the dawning of THE day came, I sadly hugged Boo and carted them all back to the shelter. I couldn't stop thinking about baby Boo. So, I grabbed my husband immediately after he arrived home from a hard day's labor, and blurted out that I wanted to adopt Boo.He wavered and grinned and allowed me to blabber on and on about how much I LOVED Boo and just had to have her. Obviously, he agreed. The next day, we brought Boo Boo home for good ! And, that's just the beginning of her story...



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Low Fat Chocolate Fudge !

   Got a sweet tooth? Also need to watch your weight? Look no further, because I've got a delightfully yummy  low fat treat for those of us who need to watch our weight, but desperately need to satisfy that sweet tooth!




This delicious, delectable, Oh so yummy Nutty Chocolate Fudge is not only GREAT tasting, it's super easy to make. Simply follow these directions and in no time at all, you'll be nibbling a tiny piece of chocolaty heaven!

Ingredients:

1 jar  (7 oz.) Marshmallow Creme
2/3    cup Fat-free Evaporated Milk
1/2    cup butter, cubed ( I like to use I can't Believe It's Not Butter sticks!!)
2       tsp. Vanilla Extract
3       cups (18 oz.) Semisweet Chocolate or Milk Chocolate Chips
2       cups Walnuts or Pecans chopped

Directions:
*  Line a  9-in. square or similar pan with aluminum foil and coat the foil with cooking spray;
    set aside
*  In a large saucepan, combine the marshmallow creme, evaporated milk, and  butter. Cook
    and stir over medium heat until smooth. Bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes,stirring
    constantly. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips and stir until melted.
    Add nuts!
*  Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours or until firm.
*  Using the foil, remove the chilled fudge from pan; carefully remove foil. Cut into 1-inch
    squares. Store in the refrigerator!

*  Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy! Oh, and share with friends and family!!!!!!!


Nutrition Information:
1 delicious piece =  a mere 70 calories              5 g. fat (2 g. saturated fat)
3 mg. cholesterol                                              16 mg. sodium
7 g. carbohydrate                                             1 g. fiber
1 g. protein

As an avid Choco-hollic and weight conscious woman, I am always on the lookout for low fat
goodies! I found this recipe in " Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook." This recipe
was submitted by A.J. Ristow from Tuscon, Arizona.

Here's to great low fat treats...three cheers for Nutty Chocolate Fudge, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip
Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray!
                                                                  Enjoy !


Life Lessons My Chickens Taught Me!

Chickens are beautiful, egg-straordinary creatures! They're intelligent, social, inquisitive, vociferous and quite entertaining! I absolutely love my sweet flock of chickens. They truly captivate my senses and I find myself egg-cited to wake in the morning so I can visit and catch up on the latest gossip around the hen house. Cluck if you too are a CrAzY chicken lady (or gentleman, they don't discriminate)! Cluck, cluck!

Spending time with my happy hens, whether it be sitting with them inside their little house or interacting with them as they egg-splore and forage around the backyard, is one of my favorite things to do. They make me smile and laugh out loud. They teach me about life. And, while I've learned so much about keeping chickens since cradling my first wee peeps several years ago, my frolicky feathered friends have taught me so much more about life itself!

  • Cluck if you're happy! Chickens wear their heart on their wings and when they feel good they show it and quite boisterously at times!It's just like the lyrics from the beloved children's song,"If Your Happy and You Know It,"- if you're happy and you know it, feel it, and want to shout it from the rooftops, go ahead and do it. Be happy! Be filled with joy and share that joy. God wishes for us to truly enjoy life!
                   "Command those who are rich in this world's goods not to be haughty
                    or to set their hope on riches which are uncertain, but on God who
                    richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment."    - 1 Timothy 6:17    


  •  Play heartily and play often! Chickens, much like we were when we were children, live to play! Chickens are curious, social, lively creatures. They like to be busy and thrive in an environment that nurtures this egg-uberance. Play is not only fun, it's healthy too! Active bodies are healthy bodies. 


         
  • Enjoy a lovely bath! It is quite an egg-sperience to watch my chickens flopping around in the dirt tossing loose dirt all over themselves! They truly do enjoy a lovely bath! A hot relaxing bath is a great way to relax at the end of a long and stressful day. Make it an occasion though-add scent-sational smelling candles, some delightfully frivolous bubbles, and some merry melodies and you've got yourself a perfect evening! You may even want to bring along a good book and really relax! Here's to the ultimate bath egg-sperience...Cheers!
       
  • Rest! Chickens understand the value of rest. Although, they are usually busy bees, chickens also love to bask in the warm sun. Who doesn't? The merits of a short rest under the sun are plentiful! Our bodies need vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, and while you can get the daily recommended dose from vitamins and supplements, many do not. So, slather your skin with sunscreen and reap the rewards of a relaxing dose of D-research shows that vitamin D helps boost our immune system, helps reduce the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes, aids eye health, helps to strengthen bones, helps to lower blood pressure, improves metabolism and mostly, it just plain feels good! So grab a good book, a nice tall glass of lemonade and rest a spell! Be sure to remember to use sunscreen though!!
  • Wake with the sun and go to sleep with the sun. Chickens live their lives on a farmers' time clock. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise." Sound advice, I believe. I don't know about wealthy and wise, but it is healthy for our bodies to keep to a routine. 
  • Share a meal with friends! Chickens LOVE LOVE LOVE to eat! It's just a fact of life. Watching them heartily "dig in" to a healthy bowl of goodness is beauty to my eyes and hearing the rhythm of their peck, peck, pecking is music to my ears. And, believe me when I say, they don't miss a beat! Sharing a meal with good friends is good for the mind, body and soul. It's refreshing and rejuvenating. It's a lovely way to connect with the people we care about most in our lives.          
  • EGG-cersize daily-It does a body good! Chickens are busy social creatures and enjoy nothing more than moving around. One of a chicken's favorite activities is egg-sploring and foraging. Free ranging, whether it be for shorter periods of time or an all day affair, is time well spent for my fine feathered friends. Free ranging for chickens benefits them twofold-while it keeps them active and moving about, thus keeping them fit as a fiddle, it also provides them the egg-straordinary opportunity to peck at nature's goodness. Everything from seeds and weeds and bugs and grubs to edible herbs and flowers chock full of essential vitamins and nutrients can be found in nature's bounty. For me, exercising means a delightfully brisk walk through our lovely back country roads. It keeps me fit, relieves stress, and is quite pleasing to the eyes, as well. Fitness doesn't have to be excrutiatingly tiresome, dull and the same old same old. So, take a walk! As Robert Frost so articulately suggested "Take the road less traveled". You'll get fit and you just might make some amazing discoveries along the way. 

         Wishing you a life filled with great joy, abundant peace, and an open mind-always be open to learning,no matter what the source! Enjoy, my friends!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Found: The Right Sites for the Writer!

A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song!- Maya Angelou

I just love this quote. It seems to sum up the way I feel about writing. I don't write because I have answers, I write because I have oodles and oodles of words swirling and dancing around in my head.  I LOVE to write! I always have.

As a freelance writer, I have sought out books, websites, and blogs that teach the craft of writing, offer advice and tips, suggest paths to follow, and provide a listing of job opportunities. I thought I would share with you those that have helped me the most.

Clearly, Writer's Digest website is number one. As the publishers of Writer's Market and Writer's Digest Magazine, these folks know writing. Though this site charges a small fee of about $5 per month, it is a small price to pay for quality writing advice. They offer words of wisdom through their blogs and writer's community, webinars and tutorials through Writer's Digest University offered at a discount for members, as well as,a myriad of excellent reference books also available at a discounted price. I subscribe to online editor, Brian Klems, blog, Writer's Digs where he shares helpful grammar and usage tips, interviews, contest invitations, and more. I highly recommend stopping by and visiting Writer's Digest.

The second site I find extremely helpful is Freelance Writing aka www.freelancewriters.com. At Freelance Writing you will find abundant writing resources such as tutorials, articles about the craft of writing, a job board, and writing contests. Brian Scott, the editor, and fellow blogger at Creative Genius 101  also invites you to follow Freelance Writing's companion Facebook page, Facebook4Freelancers

Recently, I joined LinkedIn, an online community for  professionals of any field. It's a great place to make connections and search for jobs. LinkedIn also offers a wide variety of groups to join within your field for furthering connections, sharing advice, and seeking comeraderie. Some of the groups I've joined are The Blog Zone, The Writer's Hangout, LinkEds + Writers, and The Freelance Writers.

Another great resource that I happened on recently, is The Write Life which is literally filled to the gills with resources.

I hope to periodically add to this list as it is no where near comprehensive. Google will wholeheartedly agree.
And, I invite you to send me a note at karendoll521@yahoo.com or add a comment below and let me know of any quality writer resources you feel would complement this list. I'm always searching for true wisdom to help me hone my craft!

Wishing you Writing Wisdom,
Karen








Friday, April 25, 2014

Welcome to Karen Doll- Freelance Writer!

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song!" - Maya Angelou

Just like Miss Angelou's bird, I don't write because I have answers, I write because I have oodles and oodles of wonderful words swirling and dancing around my head. I LOVE to write! I always have.
I even like to write lists and more often than not, I admit that I actually add items to my lists just so that I can check them off when completed. I know that sounds just a tad bit crazy! Well,so be it then. I'd much rather live in this world being just a tad bit crazy than normal any day, wouldn't you? Maybe you'd rather not answer that question, hmmm?

Anyway, I'm writing this post to introduce you to my self -created writer's website: Karen Doll Freelance Writer

So, stop by and visit, leave me a quick note and say "Hello", and check out my current projects!
Be there or be square...Ha Ha!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kudos for Dwarf Citrus Trees!

Kudos for Dwarf Citrus Trees
Sunny California is truly a great place to grow citrus, but we eastern girls can and do dabble in growing our own citrus- Dwarf Citrus Trees. Our warm and often scorching hot summers provide just the right environment for these delightfully smaller versions of the famous California orange trees. Seasons come and seasons go, though, and when autumn breezes put a chill in the air, we eastern girls simply cart our dwarf beauties indoors to bask in a lovely sunny spot where we can while away the hours gazing at their splendor and daydream about the scent-sational fruits to come.
Several years ago, I took the plunge and purchased two dwarf citrus trees from Four Winds Growers, ironically located in sunny California. I anxiously counted down the days until my trees arrived. I was absolutely ecstatic when my young Meyer Lemon and Trovita Orange Trees arrived in the mail a week later. They were just wee ones, but I was instantly madly in love with my new young charges. My husband and I quickly planted these sweet gems into their new homes and waited for the “fruits of our labor” adventure to begin.
That first season, the wee ones grew oh so quickly and flourished on our sunny deck. Trovita Orange blossoms popped out all over. However, as fate and nature would have it, the very song birds that I love to watch and listen to, snatched up all but one tender young orange. That orange was my pride and joy. And, when it became clear that it was quite intent on growing, growing, growing, my dear husband, David, crafted a little sling to cradle my ever growing orange so it would not break off. Thanks so much, sweetheart!  Anyway, when it was ripe and ready for pickin’, I gently plucked it. It was THE BEST sweetest, most yummiest tasting orange I have ever tasted. Meanwhile, my Meyer Lemon Tree continued to grow, and I had to pray for patience each and every day, knowing in my heart that it would blossom in the winter. And blossom it did, yet I was not blessed with any precious lemons. Ah, more patience, please!
Eventually, I was blessed with lemons…lemons galore. My little dwarf lemon tree actually surpassed my orange tree and just kept popping out blossoms which transformed into the most beautiful lemony yellow lemons. Oh my goodness, they were gorgeous! Patience is indeed a lovely virtue.
I truly love to admire my sweet precious dwarf citrus trees. They are the epitome of nature’s beauty and bounty and a delightfully compact size to boot! Sometimes I don’t know which season I prefer-the warm summer months when I can enjoy the fruit of their labors or the cozy colder months when I can enjoy the anticipation of fresh lemons and oranges! Oh so many ways to enjoy dwarf citrus trees, so little time!
So if you want to add a little color, scent-sational fruit, lovely foliage, and beauty to your family room,home office, kitchen, dining room, or literally any room of the house that gets a good amount of sunny love to keep these beauties thriving, get a dwarf citrus tree and you'll find yourself absentmindedly  humming a Beach Boys tune while you suddenly crave a nice tall glass of orange juice!
Just think about it:
*Dwarf Citrus Trees are easy to care for
*They can be enjoyed both inside and outside
*They produce a ton of delightful small sized fruits
*The fruits of their labor taste absolutely divine!
*You actually know how they've been fed and it's not with pesticides!
*They are attractive!
*Family, friends, and neighbors will pause to admire your lovely trees beginning conversation after conversation and maybe even encouraging a few of them to add one of these beauties to their home
*Did I say they're just the best little trees ever? Kudos to dwarf citrus trees!

I highly recommend stopping by Four Winds Growers and adding a touch of sunshine to your life-indoors and out! Check out their website here:

 

My beautiful Dwarf Trovita Orange Tree!


My lovely Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree!