Thursday, February 26, 2009

Public Service Announcement

I was checking on the automated backup of my blogs today and thought of y'all. I wondered how many of you all out there back up your blogs. many of y'all out there back up your blogs?

I think it's an important thing to do. One of those "insurance" type things that you hope you never need. Kind of like the smoke detectors in your house. The airbags in your car. The surge protector on your computer. You get the idea.

I use for my blogs. (No, I'm not a paid actor; this is a real unpaid customer testimonial)It's free and easy and was recommended to me by a rather techno-savvy friend. That's why I use it. I'm sure there are several others out there that are equally as good. I just haven't had a need to research any further.

It gives me peace of mind to know that if something awful should happen, I could restore my blog, never lose a word, never have to go back and re-upload a single picture. That kind of thing helps me sleep at night.

How about you? Have you taken care of your blog?

**END Public Service Announcement.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.**

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The House Smells Like A Rose Garden...

...thanks to Beverly.

I'm trying to use up my Yankee candles so I can make some totally cool ribbon holders like hers.

So far, this is a pretty sweet (smelling) little project. Thanks Beverly!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My First New Dishtowels EVAH!

The other day I went to Ross to look for a picture frame. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did spy a little packet of kitchen towels lying haphazardly on a shelf. There were five in the packet, wrapped up in a green satin ribbon.

When I saw that they were pink and white, I snatched them up right away. I do not know if $5.99 is a good deal for 5 dishtowels or not. You see, I have never in my life purchased dishtowels. Never.

The dishtowels I have were handed down to me; they belonged to my great aunts. They are vintage, with cross-stitching and embroidery designs. I love them because they are vintage, have that family sentiment, and have that softness that comes from decades of washings. But they don't go with my decor at all.

So when I saw the pink and white ones at Ross, well, the price really didn't matter. But go ahead, feel free to tell me what a steal I got on them anyway. Lie to me if you have to. That's ok. It'll make me feel all the better. :-)

When I got home, it was all I could do to take a moment to take that picture. Then I unwrapped them, careful to save the ribbon. Hey, it's perfectly good ribbon. Cute, too, with its polka-dots and all. I'm sure I'll have a use for it someday.

Well, when I pulled all the towels out, boy, was I surprised. Pleasantly surprised. They're all different, yet coordinating.

One even has bunnies woven into the design. How totally cool is that?! Does this mean they're really supposed to be Easter towels? It made me think of Amy, of course. (you'll probably need to enlarge that photo to see the bunnies)

Then I notice they each have a loop in one corner on the back. Wow. Another swell surprise! Is that normal? Do all dish towels come with a loop nowadays?

It actually took me a few minutes to figure out what the loop was for. Well, I'm still not 100% sure I've got it right.

I know. I can't believe it either. Here we are in the 21st century...and I'm standing there in my kitchen, totally dumbfounded by a loop on the back of a towel. Color me humbled.

Isn't it funny? In this day and age, with all the techno-gadgetry out there...and Kim gets all excited over pink and white dishtowels with bunnies and loops. What can I say? I'm a simple woman.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to Work and Ebay v.s. Etsy

(Click to enlarge)

Yesterday I browsed some of the ebay discussion forums. I was looking for some insight on the Auctiva issue. According to the other ebayers, the problem was with Mozilla/Firefox browsers and Auctiva. Those using Internet Explorer were supposedly able to get into their Auctiva accounts with no problems.

I attempted to get in to Auctiva on my Mac and still encountered the warnings, even under IE. I did not attempt it on my PC...just in case. (Even with all the firewalls and virus protectors and whatnot, I still trust my Mac to ward off viruses more than my PC.)

This morning I tried Auctiva again, and it seems to be working fine, even under Firefox. So I put together an auction real quick. I've got it scheduled to post this evening. Better two days late than never, right?

It's a re-run of the first Rose Coupon Organizer I did, this time all decked out with pink ribbons and bow instead of white. I'm beginning to wonder if these particular rose graphics are wearing out their welcome. I've done several organizers with them now. But, you know, since I have to pay for the graphics, I want to get as much use out of them as I can. And people do still seem to buy them. So I guess they can't be too tired of them...yet. Right?

In any case, I'm feeling the urge to purchase more graphics again soon. I've had some requests for designs using reds, so I'm thinking of going in that direction.

On a side note, the ebay fees are killing me. Etsy is looking better and better to me all the time. I'm just hesitant about the lack of exposure at Etsy. I'm afraid there won't be as much traffic. Another concern is I notice things seem to sell ALOT cheaper there and the shipping rates are unreasonable. They don't cover the true cost of shipping. How are sellers making any profit?

Any thoughts from you Etsy'ers out there?

Ok, enough rambling for this morning. Got to get busy; I've got a whole day's work ahead of me.

Happy Monday Everybody!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Auctiva Attack Alert?

I use Auctiva to create my ebay auctions. It's a lot cheaper and I'm able to insert bunches of photos without added cost. I like that feature ~ being able to give the buyer several more views of what they're bidding on.

Last night I went to the Auctiva website to start some new listings. But this warning came up instead:

I have seen this warning before for other sites while surfing the web. I've never seen it on one of my regular, trusted sites. Usually I just leave the site immediately. But this is Auctiva, one of my regulars. They're my ebay proxy and have my PayPal information, etc. I'm a little alarmed.

I clicked on the "Why was this site blocked?" link and got this screen:

(click to enlarge)

Last night when I got that screen and clicked on the auctiva link, it told me the site had infected 3 computers, I believe. This morning when I clicked on the same thing, it was up to 90.

I'm thinking I'll hold off on posting any ebay stuff for a few days. I'll keep checking back to see if Auctiva has their site straightened out. Hopefully they'll take care of it soon.

If not, I'm not sure what I'll do. I don't know if there are other free services out there like Auctiva or not. Hopefully I won't have to go searching to find out.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pink Saturday - Sweet Stress Reliever

Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food.
Michael Levine, nutrition researcher, as quoted in The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

Pink + Chocolate + Saturday. Oooooh, it doesn't get much better than that!

I purchased this graphics set from Daisie Company. I made this little emergency chocolate kit for a friend who's battling breast cancer. I shipped it off to her yesterday. Hope it'll lift her spirits when she opens the package to find all the sweet treats inside.

I also made one for Blondie for Valentine's Day.
And larger, gallon-size cans for my mother and stepmother for Valentine's Day.

Every woman should have a secret emergency stash of chocolate somewhere, don't you think?

Of course, a woman's stash should be all wrapped up in pretty pinkness, right?

I hope your Saturday is full of Pinks and lots of sweetness.

Don't forget to check out all the other Pink Saturday participants over a Beverly's.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Is It They Say About A Bird in the Hand?

We have a family of cardinals that make our backyard their home. We really enjoy having them here, even more so in winter. Their bright colors are so striking against the drab, bare branches of the trees. They always have a cheerful sound to share.

Recently one of the males found himself in our garage and unable to get out. Bless his little heart, he kept banging against one of the windows, trying desperately to fly free. He knocked himself silly and was panting.

John Dear picked him up and took him outside. He held the little fellow for a while so I could take pictures.

Mr. Cardinal was quite calm, other than his panting from his previous adventures of trying to slam through a window. He let John pet him without so much as a squeak.

Then apparently Mr. Cardinal came back to his senses. His instincts must've kicked in because he suddenly turned around and grabbed a chunk of hubby's thumb in its beak.

John yelped in pain and let go.

Mr. Cardinal did not.

We're all still friends though. The family of cardinals still lives in our backyard. We're trying to be more careful about keeping the back door on the garage closed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Whole Chicken in the CrockPot

I love my CrockPot. I don't know about you, but I simply a~d~o~r~e that thing. It's so nice to have it slaving away all day while I am off doing my own thing. During football season, it's truly a godsend. We get home late in the evening from practice or an out-of-town game, walk in to an aroma-filled house and a dinner that's ready & waiting for us. Oh yes. Love my Crock.

Back in November we received a turkey from hubby's work and I decided I wanted to give it a try in the Crock Pot. I found a really good recipe with easy-to-follow instructions here. I altered that recipe slightly but found it worked beautifully just the same.

Since then, I've done several birds in the Crock. I've probably been doing about one every other week since November. Yep, that's how much we enjoy this recipe! For the most part I do them all the same way, but with slight variations. Here is my basic recipe for doing a whole chicken in the crockpot.


Whole chicken (I prefer mine without the neck & whatnot, but that's up to you)
A small amount of olive oil (maybe 1/8 cup?)
2 Tbs. butter or margarine, cubed
1 small apple
1 slice onion (sorry, forgot to include it in the photo)
Mrs. Dash (whatever is your favorite blend. Ours is Garlic & Herb)

I took a closer shot of the label on my chicken because I wanted you to see how economical this meal is. I always buy the largest hen my grocery store has, and it's never yet been 6lbs. I always spend less than $6. This chicken feeds my family of 4 for dinner and lunch the next day.

Rinse off your chicken well, just like you do with a turkey. Pat it dry inside and out, just like you do with a turkey.

You want to core your apple. Slice it also. It is stuffed inside your chicken along with the cubed butter. The reason you want these sliced & cubed is because it can be a pretty tight fit. The type of apple does not matter as far as I know. Use whatever you like. If all your apple slices will not fit, take those left over slices and eat them. Go ahead. They're good for you. :-)

Using a basting brush, spread olive oil all over your chicken. Then sprinkle with the Mrs. Dash.

Flip her over and do the same thing on the other side. If you enlarge the above photo and look closely, you can see the green apple barely peeking out of her backside.

Place her in the crockpot. I've done them right side up and upside down. It does not matter. The whole chicken comes out equally juicy no matter what position you put her.

Place your onion slices on top. Set the crockpot to HIGH.

I leave my crockpot on HIGH for 2 hours. Then I switch it to Low for another 6 hours. If you work outside the home, perhaps you could put it on high in the morning while you're getting ready for work. Then switch it to Low right before you walk out the door. Maybe? In any case, mine cooks a total of 8 hours. (If you looked at that Turkey CrockPot link earlier, you noticed she cooked hers for 5 hours on HIGH the whole time). Both ways seem to work fine.

On this particular day I added 4 cups of water because I wanted additional broth for cooking the veggies and stuffing for the meal. I have also done this when I've known I'd be making chicken noodle soup out of the leftovers and wanted that extra broth. But let me tell you, you do NOT need to add any water at all. Your chicken will make LOTS of juicey broth all by herself. Only add water if you are wanting broth for another purpose.

This was Sportster's plate, all dished up and ready to go. The corn, green beans and stuffing had all been cooked using that extra broth I mentioned before. No additional flavoring or seasoning was needed; they were scrumptious just as they were.
The crockpot makes it so easy. I just went into the kitchen a half hour before mealtime, scooped out a bunch of the broth with a ladle and used it to fix the veggies and stuffing. And *bam* a delicious home-cooked meal for my hubby to come home to....with plenty of left-overs for his lunch the next day. (Actually, truth be told, this time around there was even enough left over to feed his partner lunch as well)

Here are some variations I've done with this recipe and have had success with them all:

Don't use an apple at all
Put the onion inside instead of on top (this is when I don't use an apple)
Use a Red Delicious apple instead of Granny Smith
Use minced onion instead of a real fresh one
Sprinkle the top of the chicken with minced garlic

One thing you need to know about this recipe: If you're looking for a beautifully browned, perfectly proportioned chicken for display in the center of your dining room table, this recipe is NOT for you. If that's what you need, then you should probably follow the instructions on that link about cooking on HIGH for 5 hours and then transferring to an oven for browning.

You'll notice I did not post any such pictures. There's a reason. I have not yet been able to get my chicken out of my crockpot in one piece. It all falls right off the bone. Which is a good thing. That's actually what I want, for the meat to be that done.

ALL the meat is incredibly juicy, even the white meat. I no longer have kiddos turning up their noses to dry white meat. And it all falls apart so easily, making the job of separating the meat for future soups or burritos or whatever SUPER easy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Do You Think of the New Look?

As you can see, I've been a busy little beaver here in Blogland. I think things are coming along nicely, don't you?

I got the left sidebar added...and managed not to lose the whole kit-n-kaboodle in the process. Yes, Virginia, there IS a God! I've still got to make up new graphics for the sidebars and move some stuff around. I want to add more gadgets too. But, all in all, I am pleased with the progress.

Please do tell me ~honestly~ what you think. Does it look ok on your end? Are things lining up fairly well? Graphics are easy enough to see? I'm not sure yet what to do about the fonts. I enlarged them to make them easier to read, but I'm not sure I like it. What do you think? Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

In the spirit of my at-least-one-picture-per-post rule, I've decided to throw a picture in here of the latest coupon organizer I made...which is much nicer to look at than a picture of me here slaving away on my blog. This coupon organizer was a special request from a previous customer. I hope she likes it.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

(You know, every time I make one of these blue-themed organizers, I can't stop thinking of Cindy. They look to me like her kind of colors.)

Oh, by the way. It is SOOOO beautiful here today! I can't believe it. 70 degrees! I took Chrissy for a walk this afternoon and was burning up! It's freezing in this house, so I'm wearing Long Johns, a sweatshirt and a sweater coat over that. I thought I was going to DIE when I got outside! LOL As soon as we got back, I opened up some windows to let that gorgeous spring-like air thaw out the house. Gee, can't believe it's February still.

Hope you're having a wonderful week!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pictures for Kelly

I was trying to get caught up on my blog visits when I came across Kelly's post over at Rose Vine Cottage Two. She posted pictures of an antique bedframe she recently purchased. I kid you not, I gasped outloud and surely would have fallen out of my chair if it didn't have arms on it.

Kelly, these pictures are for you, to show you the detail of my bed so you can see. It's just like yours! (In my brain I'm screaming that because I'm really very excited to have finally found another one like mine)

My mother bought this wrought iron bed for me when I was a little girl. My earliest memory of it is when I was in Kindergarten. I'm 38 I believe this bed has been with our family for about 33 years.

I used the footboard as a bar to practice my gymnastic swings, flipping over the footboard or balancing myself above it as if I were on the uneven bars. Such a silly girl, I was.

I recall being afraid of the detail work. It looked like two very stern eyes looking at me, with an almost gargoyle look to it. Why couldn't I have been a happy-go-lucky kid who saw the design as a beautiful butterfly or something?

My mother says when she first bought the bed, it was rusted badly. She spent a great deal of time cleaning it up and then painted it a creamy white. It's been repainted a few more times over the years. You can see some of the spots where the paint has chipped off. I don't mind a bit.

This is the most UNflattering picture you'll see. LOL I had to raise the skirt to show you. Even the joint where the pieces meet match yours.

I've looked at other wrought iron beds over the years. But none hold a candle to this one. It has many MANY years of memories for me. Like I said in my comments on your blog Kelly, I won't let my bed go 'til they put me in a pine box.

I hope yours becomes a favorite in your family too, to be passed down and cherished through the generations.