Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Spotlight #12: Supportive Bloggers

If the only writing you do is with a pen, instead of reading this post about blogging, you may prefer an article I wrote exactly a year ago: The Sharpie Marker, An Indispensable Modern Convenience. 

Even non-bloggers however, might enjoy this glimpse into what it is like to be a blogger.  (Truthfully, I'd be flattered if you read both posts!)

If you have been following the most - - of every moment for long, you will have noticed some changes to this blog over the past month.

For example:
- the title banner is now a collage of photos.
- the photos in my posts are larger than before.
- I'm now publishing my recipes with a “printable version” available.
A few people have asked me where I learned to do these things. I am going to “shine my Saturday Spotlight” on my answer, which is  . . .

. . .  practically everything I know about blogging I have learned from other very supportive bloggers!  

Bloggers are an amazing community.  On some level we are all competing with each other for readers. Yet, rather than selfishly just promote our own websites, bloggers really tend to help each other out.  And from what I have learned, the more a blogger helps others, the more quickly that helper's blog actually grows.

Thank goodness for Pinterest!  Using Pinterest is like keeping a huge scrapbook. I have a “Blog Tips!” board stuffed full of links to helpful articles.  I am constantly pinning valuable information that I find. Without these tutorials written by other bloggers, I wouldn't have known how to do anything at all when I first started blogging!

In the year since I began this blog the most - - of every moment, I have received far too much help to give credit here to everyone who deserves it. I can at least tell you though, how I learned to make the recent changes I mentioned above. Perhaps you will find these tips helpful too.

Making a Custom Header Banner

Although I use the photo editor Ribbet instead of PicMonkey (and therefore didn't follow the tutorial exactly), the post How To Make Headers For Your Blogger Blog - Using PicMonkey from The Blog Guidebook provided exactly the motivation and information that I needed to create my blog header.

Making Photos Larger

My blogger friend Heather ( gave me a tip about how to change the width of my photos before inserting them into my blog. I then realized that on the Blogger platform, photos can be published as "original size" (somehow I had never noticed that before?!)  ... and in Ribbet, photos can be changed to a size that works! 
I found the post Auto-sizing Photos to Fit Post Area In Blogger by I Can Build A Blog really helpful. I'm too nervous to make any changes to the CSS code of my blog, but these tips worked well enough without having to do that right now.  

Making a Recipe Printable

I have always offered an option to print any part of my blog (once you click on a post title, the print button shows up under that post). This method still seems a little cumbersome for recipes though, so I was thrilled to discover the post How to Make Your Recipe Printable on Blogger by Confessions of an Overworked Mom.  It was a really easy tutorial to follow, and I like the print option I can now provide.  I hope you do too! 

I had been toying with switching from the Blogger platform to Word Press.  
I really like Blogger, but I was feeling limited by my inability to do some things on it.  A couple months ago though, I discovered Kim Six Blogger Support

Kim specializes in the Blogger platform, and at the time was offering to do free blog reviews for blogs hosted by Blogger.  I signed up immediately - and her review was unbelievably helpful and detailed. I have implemented a lot of her suggestions, and I am looking forward to working with her to get a little help with some changes I am unable (or too intimidated!) to do myself.  

Thanks to Kim, at least for now I am perfectly content to remain on Blogger! She just had new business cards made, and she posted a photo of them on Instagram. Pretty creative, don't you think? 

To everyone who has ever given me any blogging advice, information or support - I'd like to express a huge thank you!  

 I hope I can pay it forward.

What is the best tip from another blogger that you have ever received?

Did you remember to click the link and read my previous post about Sharpie markers? I learned a lot of fun facts about them when I wrote the article.  They can be used for all sorts of things; I even used one to make this wallhanging.

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cleaning Products Don't Work Unless You Use Them

It has been quite a while since I’ve published any fiction.  Today I am participating in this week's Words for Wednesday challenge

I love the task of taking the six words provided by Delores from Under the Porch Light, and turning them into a story!  While writing this one, I think perhaps I was sub-consciously thinking about the spring cleaning I need to do.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Morning could not come soon enough for Mindy. She had to end this suffering! The self-imposed shopping moratorium that she had placed upon herself had lasted long enough.

Four whole days without buying a single cleaning product! Since she was eleven-years old, this was the longest she had ever gone without buying something that cleaned, sanitized, shined, disinfected or removed dirt. She usually bought at least one thing every single day!

The memory of the first cleansing product she ever bought was still vivid. Her mom had refused to buy the shampoo the television commercials recommended, because it was so much more expensive than their regular brand. Mindy had walked to the store and purchased a bottle of it herself, with some of the money she had gotten for her eleventh birthday. That first whiff of the shampoo's heavenly herbal essence had given her a feeling of fulfillment like nothing Mindy had ever experienced before in her young life.

The next day she bought soap. Then a new brand of toothpaste. From there, it morphed into not just items related to hygiene, but cleanliness of any kind. Scrub brushes, make-up remover, toilet bowl cleaner, vacuum cleaners, rug shampoo, dishwashing detergent - she had to have them all. And not just one of each, but a multitude of every brand.

Mindy knew she was a spendthrift and that she could ill afford the multitude of purchases she made. She knew most people didn’t own nine vacuums - or squirrel away 167 boxes of bath soap in their basement.

In fact, in a flash of insight, last week she had realized that although she owned all of these cleaning products, her house and body were a far cry from immaculate! Practically every inch of space in her home was taken up by these purchases. Even her bathtub was filled with a miscellaneous assortment of unopened bottles, bags and boxes. Removing them from the tub and stacking them all on her bed (the only empty space left in her house) took  so much effort that she never seemed to have much energy or desire to bathe.

Mindy decided there was no reason to wait until morning. She hopped out of bed, fired up her computer, and ordered a Steamfast Multipurpose Steam-Cleaner from

Mindy wasn’t even feeling any guilt about going back on the promise she had made to herself to stop these purchases - she had come up with a phenomenal plan. For every new cleaning item that she bought, she would sell two things that she already owned on eBay. (At least until the bathtub was empty, and then she might drop down to selling just one for every purchase!)

Why hadn’t she thought of this before? She didn’t care about any of the cleaning stuff after she got it home. She just loved to make the purchases! Who knows - she might even end up making money instead of spending it!

This story is totally fictitious! It is not even loosely based on any event or person, but is a fiction story sparked solely from the word prompts provided for this week's Words for Wednesday Challenge. 

I wonder if Mindy's new purchase was a good buy?

I shamelessly including several Amazon Affiliate links to cleaning products in this story. It was easier to use them than take my own photos for this post!  

I fear a little of Mindy rubbed off on me - I don't own a Steamfast Multipurpose Steam cleaner like the one in the last photo - but after reading the reviews, I am a little tempted to try one out! It does sound like you have to follow the directions, and use extreme caution because of the steam - but I wonder how well this machine works?

This week's Words for Wednesday word prompts were: 

immaculate, moratorium, flash, spendthrift, miscellaneous, and squirrel.

What are your thoughts about Mindy's new plan?
Do you own a multi-purpose steam-cleaner?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains Amazon affiliate links, for which I may receive compensation if any purchases are made. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely my own.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Favorite Dessert: Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

I promised that I would be publishing my recipe for Frozen Mocha Cheesecake today.  So now, I am keeping that promise!

cheesecake, frozen desserts, mocha, cheesecake

In my post yesterday, I wrote about a meal I recently served to some friends.  Everything was quite simple to make, and almost the entire meal preparation could be completed in advance. 

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to serve with a new recipe.  Without ever having tasted it, choosing complementary side dishes can be difficult.  I was very pleased with my selections this time, and I quite possibly might make the entire meal exactly the same way again!  We served a dry Riesling with dinner.

Asparagus Tart

Main Meal: 
One Dish Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Apricots
Lightly Steamed Snap Peas
Tri-Color Pearled Couscous
Crusty bread and butter

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake 
Decaf Coffee

For more information about the appetizer and main course, go to yesterday's post An Easy Dinner Menu - Perfect for Company.

But now - - - it's time for me to write about dessert!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Easy Dinner Menu - Perfect for Company

Mysterious Visitors

On Friday I was visited by a swarm of about 50 loudly buzzing bees, who seemed to be doing everything in their power to come in through our (fortunately intact) kitchen window screen.  Their visit was so dramatic and brief, I described it in my post, A Mysterious Visit By Bees.  What I didn't mention in that post is that I was cooking with honey in my kitchen when the bees appeared.

Trying a new recipe isn't so risky, when you trust the source!

Some friends were coming over for dinner that evening.  Like I often do, I was taking a risk and preparing a recipe I had not tried before for my guests.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Spotlight #11: A Mysterious Visit by Bees

Bugs ... and Bees, Oh My!

I'm sorry. My apologies to anyone who doesn't like to think about bugs!

I promise bugs won't become a major topic on this blog, but I am writing about them for the second time this week.

Yesterday was a lot busier than I had anticipated.

The Saturday Spotlight post I had planned for today just did not get written.

Instead - I am going to “shine my Saturday Spotlight” on a mysterious encounter I had yesterday.

The mystery
Why did about 50 bees suddenly swarm my kitchen window yesterday afternoon, for the better part of an hour?

bees, swarming

These bees were persistent and their buzzing was alarmingly loud! I was extremely glad they were on the other side of the window screen. I wish I had thought to take a photo before they began to disappear - or better yet record a video, so you could have heard them buzzing. Unfortunately, all I have is this photo, taken after many of them had disappeared.  

I have a hypothesis - but would love to know what you  think

Link WIthin

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