My Freedom to be a Country Girl

Every year, over 1.8 million women and girls are trafficked into the global sex trade against their will. It is estimated that 60% are under the age of 16 and some are as young as two. They are typically kept as captive sex workers. ~ from Soulgems website

When I hear of the injustices that are committed against women the world over, it sends a shiver up my spine. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of girls as young as 2 years old being forced into the global sex slave trade.

Could you imagine this fate happening to anyone you know,
or even yourself?!

What about being born into a region where there are no educational opportunities for women, where women are considered as property and are treated as such - employment is out of the question, and sometimes the only "work" option for these women is prostitution.

Can you even begin to imagine this kind of life,
with no spot of brightness on the horizon?

Did you hear about this recent case in Pakistan, where a woman who refused an offer of marriage paid the ultimate price - she was strangled and when she was thought to be dead, her nose and ears were cut off. This was to "set an example" according to the men who did this to her. She survived, and the two men have been sentenced to the same fate, pending confirmation of the high court and a doctor's affirmation that they can survive this punishment. Sadly, the high court has suspended such sentences in the past. I am enraged when I hear of these horrible acts of injustice. Why would anyone worry whether these two could survive their punishment? They were not worried about their victim in the least - but this is because women are treated differently in this part of the world.

When I read or hear of these atrocities against females around the world, it makes me appreciate every day, every second of my life here in the United States, with the precious freedom to be a female who has the choice to be anything she wants to be, and has many positive and exciting options available to her.

My sister was listening to
NPR on her way to work earlier this week, and they were talking about Mekong Blue. Thanks to the help of an American woman, these Cambodian ladies are able to learn a skill and earn enough money to make a decent living, about $150/month which is roughly equivalent to a doctor's salary in their region. Hear the NPR broadcast here.

Since my sis feels that her alternate life might have been as a staunch supporter of women's rights, she checked out this website as soon as she got to work and promptly ordered a bright red scarf to brighten her otherwise drab winter coat ~ and to offer her small token of help to the women who make these beautiful silk scarves.

Another website, Soulgems, sells beautiful handcrafted sterling silver jewelry to help stop the forced trafficking of women and girls. 100% of their profit is donated to charities working to combat sex trafficking. I am personally intrigued by Betty Makoni of Zimbabwe who founded the Girl Child Network in 1998 to help young girls combat the sexual abuse endured at the hands of teachers, relatives, and sometimes, even officials. I have purchased the Little Square - Shelter necklace to make my small contribution to their network.

I realize there are many problems here on our own continent. However, I strongly feel that the exploitation of women and children is at its worst in other countries around the world. So, if you want a beautiful scarf or a lovely new piece of sterling silver jewelry, why not toss your dollars in a direction that actually benefits someone else, and helps lift them out of a desperate and sad life? Every single purchase is a small helping hand to these women.

And these cases are always good reminders for us to appreciate everything we have in our lives. Our families. Our friends. Our homes with warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. Our food, our vehicles.... we are so very blessed to have all the basics that so many people the world over do not have.

In keeping with this subject matter, I would like to pass along a book that is a wonderful, warm read ~ Three Cups of Tea. I always find it heartwarming to read about individuals endowed with a huge, giving and passionate heart, and it's truly amazing to see what one person can accomplish when their mind is set firmly on the goal.

I will draw a name from all the comments made on this post and forward this book to you for a cozy read. Closing date for book giveaway entries is Friday, January 1st.

Crispy Frosty Sunday Deserves a Deelish Coffee Cake

What a gorgeous sunrise over the pond this morning! Of course, I ran outside in my slippers as I saw the sunrise through a window... and the ground is crispy and frost covered! Well worth the wet feet, such a beautiful quiet.

The girls woke me up early, around 6:15, so after feeding them I decided to watch a lil Food Network. Paula Deen is my new "old" favorite. I've never been a Martha Stewart fan, and sometimes Rachael Ray is fun to watch, but in two Sundays I've become infatuated with Paula. So down to earth, and her recipes are NORMAL recipes that most of us would love to eat, plus I adore her kitchen! Ya gotta love that refrigerator that looks like an old country icebox! She made a marinated pork tenderloin with root vegetables today that looks like it is to die for, so you know I will be trying that in the next few weeks. In the meantime, watching Paula and her yummy concoctions motivated me to make my simple yet very yummy coffee cake for breakfast today.

If you haven't tried it yet, click the link above and give it a whirl... I've tried many other coffee cakes, some easy and some more complicated, and I always come back to this tried and true recipe. And believe it or not, it's from my home economics class in junior high school! I added a lil nutmeg to the topping today, and I greased and floured the cake pan, which my memory seems to think I've never done before??! Who knows, my memory sure is getting blotchy these days... yikes, I just read the recipe I posted here last May, and I guess I do grease the pan...

Oh, I just have to laugh at myself sometimes...

I'm heading into the kitchen to have a piece of coffee cake now.

The Western Life ... and Catching Up

Look at the cool coat rack that hubby made! He keeps old horseshoes for neat projects like this, along with old rope from his team roping adventures, old barn wood and scrap metal. So this entire coat rack was made with our stock of old used items, some paint, and tons of imagination and creativity. Personally, I think he could sell them - tell me what y'all think.

Do you think there might be a market for this unique item?

I really like the rope tassel he did at one corner - such a unique accent!

My world of technology is all back to normal. The car is fixed, I have a refurbished cell phone, and my iMac is back home. It is wonderful when technology works, but when everything breaks down at the same time, it can be immensely frustrating!

The last few weeks have been busy - much dog biscuit baking and filling orders. A good thing, for sure! I am hoping to experiment with horse and cat treats after the first of the year, and begin offering larger sizes, e.g., 1 lb and 5 lb bags of the dog treats. We also hope to expand on our dog treat flavors as 2010 rolls around.

And to close this blog post, I want to point you all to a wonderful cookie website, Cowgirl Cookie Co. - this gal and her mom make the most marvelous cookies, and her website has an awesome western touch. I personally haven't tried them yet, but I've heard rave reviews from others, most notably a friend of mine here in Kansas. So check them out, and give 'em a try - I aim to order some in the next few weeks!

One Busy Weekend

It's been one very busy weekend, full of dog biscuit baking! The girls love their newest job - TASTE TESTERS. It's getting difficult for me to bake biscuits with the dogs constantly underfoot. Trust me, they take their jobs quite seriously.

I am hoping (fingers crossed) to get my iMac back from the repair shop tomorrow. I feel a huge disconnect since it crashed - I haven't been able to properly visit my friends' blogs, and I miss reading about y'all!!! Plus I desperately need my iMac for my dog biscuit venture - my label art is on it, and I'm out of Lazy G Ranch labels. ACK!

In addition to being a busy weekend, it's been a quick one. Hard for me to believe that tomorrow is the start of another week... here's wishing everyone a wonderful week full of smiles and fun.

UPDATE: I have my car back, but my cell phone is another ongoing saga, just like my computer... don't ya just love technology sometimes??!!

Blog Interrupted

Life for Oz Girl has come to a screeching standstill. Woe is me. I am so lost without my iMac computer.

Yes, the hard drive finally bit the dust on Sunday... it has been trying to die on me since October. Never fear, I have documented every maddening episode since then, talked to the nice folks at Apple tonight, and will be taking the whole kit and kaboodle to an authorized Apple reseller/repair shop in Wichita sometime this week. Most likely not tomorrow since "the big storm" is hitting tonight.

So, for now, all I have is my Acer Aspire One netbook. If any of you are at all familiar with netbooks, you will know that they are NOT conducive to heavy computer usage. At best, I can read emails and do easy posts to my blogs. At worst, visiting other blogs is a nightmare -- the screen on this thing is teeny weeny, and I have to scroll up and down and sideways to read and view photos. What should take 5 minutes takes 15-20 min. Plus, certain features seem to be non-existent, e.g., no font choices here in Blogger. Grrr.

I had just started visiting blogs on Sunday when my iMac crashed on me - in fact, Lisa of Laughing Orca Ranch has the dubious honor of being the blog I had just visited when it crashed! Sorry Lisa ~ my whiney iMac didn't give me enough time to post any comments on your blog! Tony Letts and Midlife Slices were the only two blogs I got to read and comment on before the ole iMac bit the dust.

So, even though I am having difficulty with the virtue called patience right now, I ask of you to have patience as my posts will be sparse until I get my beloved iMac back. I'm hoping I get it back before the weekend, although that might be just a tad too optimistic!

In other news... my 2007 Dodge Caliber is in the shop, and my barely 6 month old cell phone died on Friday.

Anyone want to loan me their car or computer or cell phone?

Cotton Pickin' and Winter Wheat

I am quite accustomed to fields of winter wheat here in Kansas. I love the bright green this time of year - it adds such a bright splash of color to our otherwise brown, pre-winter landscape.

But I was very surprised to see several fields of cotton spring up around where we live this year. They look like blanketed fields of snow, without the cold of course.

Well, let me correct myself - today the cold started... 41 degrees for our high, with wind chills in the high 20s. Can you say BRRR??

Afterthought: Post a comment on my Lazy G Ranch blog and be entered to win a sample pack of dog treats!! Oh, I know, y'all are saying, OMG, there she goes again about her silly Lazy G blog.... I can't help myself, I'm just so durned excited by it all! :-)

Cookie Emergency

Oh, what to do when one runs out of cookies for the hubster's lunch!!

I hunted through the cupboards, trying to determine what ingredients were on hand... what kind of cookies could I possibly bake??

AND it had to be a quick and easy recipe too. I don't have much time in the evenings once I get home from work.

And so I found it... the easiest and yummiest coconut cookie recipe ever! Very chewy and very coconutty. Try it. If you like coconut, you're going to love these.

Since I modified the recipe I found, I think I can give it any name I choose.
pffffft! *tongue sticking out*

Oz Girl's "Coco for Coconut" Cookies
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 cup to 1-1/2 cup coconut

Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together in large bowl; add eggs and extracts and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients and then add coconut. Drop from teaspoon on greased baking sheet, or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around edges.

Tip #1: You can sprinkle a wee bit of colored sugar on the cookies before you bake them, for a more festive look. I left half of mine plain, the other half decorated.

Tip #2: I'll bet if you added white chocolate chips, they would be heavenly!

Warning: I couldn't keep my hands out of the cookie dough. This is THEE BEST cookie dough.

*sniff* The Lazy G Needs Some Comment Luv

I've got another giveaway going on... this time over on my Lazy G Ranch blog! Just leave a comment at the Lazy G, with the answer to one simple question, and win a hardcover copy of "The Dog Listener" by Jan Fennell.

Check out this book on
Amazon.... many readers have given it an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Click the image of the book to go to The Lazy G Ranch...

Black Gold??

Mary got it right! Our area is being tested for oil. We've got our fingers crossed. And crossed. And crossed again. I would love to sing the refrain to the "Beverly Hillbillies" and have it mean something to me.

I can just see Tom and I in this truck, but even if we did
hit black gold, I think we might stay right here.

I was hoping to get pics of the "thumper" trucks that do the actual seismic testing, but since they didn't come through over the weekend, I'm afraid they might do their thing during the week while we're at work. DRATS.

Who Knows What's Going on Here?!

There's something going on down at the ranch.... the newly christened Lazy G, that is. Does anyone know what's happening? Maybe these photos will give someone a clue... more photos to come later!

The Lazy G Ranch

And thus is born my new business blog!
Click on the image above to see my new adventure.

Frosty Morn

a classic sunrise glows on the horizon this morning

wee bit o'mist over the pond

Ringo looks for wildlife

ice crackles in the ravines

horses on watch

Late to Work

This gorgeous sunrise in a quiet countryscape
caused me to be late to work last week.
Well worth it, I'd say.

And The Winners Are...

Yep, that's right. WINNERS. Plural.

I decided, at the very last minute, to pick two winners. THEN, I thought, why not have 3 winners? Honestly, I just wish I could send every single cotton-pickin' person who commented on this post a calendar!! Doggone it all.

But alas, my wallet is thin and old. Doesn't hold many George Washingtons these days. Or should I say that's all it holds?!

Anyway, I did settle on picking 3 winners, instead of just one. Since it's been a long work week and I'm tired I'm excited to know who the winners are, I used to pick 3 comments (1-17) and it came up with numbers 3, 6 and 10. That equals Slamdunk, Chester and Muddy Boot Dreams. Would the winners please email me with your calendar choice and size, plus your address, at

THANK YOU to everyone who commented. And when I say I wish every single one of you could be a calendar winner, I really mean it. It's the only part I don't like about my giveaways. But I'm going to keep having giveaways, and hopefully everyone will eventually have the opportunity to win something fun!

My weekend is going to be a dog biscuit baking marathon for me, so I will be scarce in blogland. Although I am seriously going to try to squeeze in a little visiting time.

Wishing everyone a magical and fun weekend!!

Win a Custom 2010 Calendar!

That's right, it's time to start thinking about the new year, which is just around the corner! One of my calendars with my very own original photography will help you start the new year off right - you know, ORGANIZED.

Well, ok, so a calendar won't solve all your disorganized-ness...

But hey, they're nice to look at, and if you win this giveaway, you get a brand spankin' new and FREE 2010 calendar! I've designed 4 different calendars to date - Ringo the Ranch Dog, Kansas Country, Flowers and Such, and Sunflowers. Click on one of the photos in my left sidebar to take a closer look at each calendar.

The winner gets to pick which calendar they would like, in whatever size they would like - small, standard or huge. Just comment on this post, telling me which calendar you'd like to win (you can change your mind if you do win!) and I'll draw a winner on Friday, November 20.

If you aren't the winner of my giveaway, there's a great calendar promo going on right now through next Monday the 23rd at midnight. Zazzle is offering a 44.4% discount on all calendars if you use the code CALENDARS998 at checkout. This is a huge savings - the standard size normally runs just over $20.00. I'll be ordering a few for myself and family. And if you don't particularly fancy one of my calendar designs, just do a search on the Zazzle website for a calendar that DOES tickle your fancy - there are some very talented artists on Zazzle!

A special thanks to everyone who visits my blog. I truly enjoy all your comments, and value every friendship I have made through blogging. The last few weeks have been crazy busy for me with my job, my organic dog biscuits and the usual animal lovin' that must be kept up to par. The sample dog treats I took to work on Monday were a big hit - I have orders to fill, and a possible partnership with one of the dog groomers in town!

I hope to find time to visit all of you very soon!

Smokin' Country Kitchen

That title would describe my kitchen this weekend.

Yesterday, I made potato and ham soup, along with two batches of organic dog biscuits. The potato soup is a big hit with the hubby, and I'm going to point you to the recipe, because aside from peeling and cutting up the potatoes, this has got to be the EASIEST potato soup recipe I've ever found, and it is astoundingly delicious, considering how few ingredients there are. Read the reviews for this recipe too, and you'll see many people raving over it, and also admitting that they didn't change the recipe much. Sorry I don't have a photo of my soup, but go here and give this recipe a try. You will not regret it!

Below is a partial result of my organic dog biscuit baking marathon this weekend - I've made small sample bags to take to work on Monday. I now have four varieties of organic biscuits - Trixie Lou's Cheesers, Tori's Pumkin Luv, Ringo's P'nut Butter Spots, and Barnyard Pals. I hope to add the new flavors (full-size bags) to my Paypal button on my right sidebar sometime later this week. The Cheesers and the P'nut Butter Spots will be packaged in 8 oz bags, while the smaller sized Pumkin Luv and Barnyard Pals will be packaged in 6 oz bags. Since these treats are preservative-free, you'll need to freeze them if you want to use them beyond 10 days.

Want your own sample pack? For only $3.50 plus the cost of first class postage ($3.26), I can send you a small bag of each variety. Here is the ingredient listing for each flavor:

Trixie Lou's Cheesers: Brown rice flour, oat flour, shredded cheddar and parmesan cheeses, chicken broth and egg. Large bone shaped cutouts.

Tori's Pumkin Luv: Brown rice flour, oat flour or barley flour, pumpkin, egg, molasses and cinnamon. Small heart shaped cutouts.

Ringo's P'Nut Butter Spots: Brown rice flour, rolled oats, peanut butter, egg, honey, apple cider vinegar and water. Large flat cookie type biscuits.

Barnyard Pals: Brown rice flour, rye flour, oat bran, chicken broth, shredded parmesan cheese, egg and garlic powder. Very small barnyard animal cutouts (cow, pig, turkey).

Hope your weekend was as fruitful as mine,
and here's to another great week!

Gracious Thanks

To Cindy Beck of Write Up My Alley, thank you so much for my lovely "In Good Taste" cookbook by Nancy J Miles, which is also available on Amazon for those readers who may be interested in having their own copy.

I was the winner of her October 17th contest and received my delightful cookbook earlier this week. I've already used it to make chili -- since I had to use what I had in the pantry, I hodgepodge'd two recipes together. It actually turned out pretty danged good, which reminds me that I need to write down my "new" recipe before I forget!!

Cindy's blog is delightfully humorous, well, most of the time; sometimes she strikes a serious pose. Take a hike over to her blog - trust me, you'll enjoy this writer's musings. She is wonderfully blessed at putting her feelings into words. On a side note, she's been having a giveaway every week lately so you'll want to comment to enter!

Another big thanks to Misha at From My Front Porch in the Mountains for my sweet lil Honest Scrap award. I'm so very remiss in thanking Misha for this award... she tossed it my way this past summer.

"This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul."

I'm glad I waited to thank her, because NOW is the perfect time for you to visit her blog and see the new foal that has blessed their lives. They've waited forever to meet this new addition to their family, and now that she's here, they are just gaga over her. Go on, and head over to her blog and see her last few posts -- what a beautiful and precious lil gal!!! You're going to love Misha's blog - she makes you feel like sittin' a spell on her front porch for a good gab and a cup of joe.

Hope y'all are having a great week, and we're almost at the weekend, yippee! May your weekend weather forecast be bright and cheery. If your weather looks ominous, well then, you'd better get your fireplace stoked and bake up some goodies with hot chocolate while you work a puzzle or play a game! :)

Heavenly Beauty for SkyWatch Friday

Will I ever get used to these big, beautiful Kansas skies?

I mean, will I wake up one day and not notice them,
perhaps be totally bored *yawn* by them and
take them for granted?

I sure hope not.

Monday's Kansas skies at 5:30 p.m. central time.
Top photo, the sun sets in the west.
Bottom photo, the sun's rays cast a pink glow on eastern clouds.

Visit the SkyWatch Friday website to see
more beautiful skies
around the world!