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...