Best "Quick Advice" Photography Book

If you have a dSLR camera and you have yet to use any of the settings beyond "auto" shoot, you owe it to yourself to read this quick digital photo tip and hint book - get it from the library or buy it from Amazon. I bought it and I've found The Digital Photography Book to be my most valuable quick reference of all my photography books. It is simple and to the point, and isn't full of techno mumbo-jumbo that's hard to understand. The author, Scott Kelby, is a well-known author of many computer books as well as Editor-in-Chief of Nikon Software User magazine. He has a rather tongue-in-cheek, humorous writing style which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sample inside pages - very easy reading format

Chapters included:
Pro Tips for Getting Really Sharp Photos
Shooting Flowers Like a Pro
Shooting Weddings Like a Pro
Shooting Landscapes Like a Pro
Shooting Sports Like a Pro
Shooting People Like a Pro
Avoiding Problems Like a Pro
Taking Advantage of Digital Like a Pro
Taking Travel & City Life Shots Like a Pro
How to Print Like a Pro and Other Cool Stuff

The last chapter, Photo Recipes to Help You Get the Shot, gives a common scenario on each page and then tells you how to capture the shot, step-by-step.

Scott's book is just as informative for those with point-and-shoot digital cameras.

Do give it a look-see. I think you'll find this book will help you to improve your basic photography skills.

Also in my photography library:
The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman
Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Nikon D60 Guide to Digital SLR Photography by David Busch

Digital Photography MacWorld SuperGuide
(This book was specifically helpful to me for post-processing since I have an iMac computer.)

Most of these books have been helpful, and I'm sure I will go back to them time after time. But the first one I mention, The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby, is my go-to reference. As you may have noticed in the photos, I have flagged some of the pages for quick reference.

Without further ado, I'm going to read some of my photography books this afternoon and see if I can improve my skills even more!

New Blog Design

Bear with us, we are in the middle of blog design changes. So you may see things moved around in the next few hours, or even deleted, and new blog design elements added.

I guess we're cleaning house, so to speak. It'll be so much cleaner when it's all done! :)

Uber Amazing Blog Award and Some Award Reorganization

I've met some fantastic new bloggers the last few weeks. This is something I love about the blog world; I have met some of the most awesome people since the beginning of this year!

In that vein, I've received the Uber Amazing Blog award from someone I just met a few weeks ago, Alicia of Boyle Antique & Vintage Jewelry. Alicia is addicted to old things - clothing, jewelry, anything to do with fashion. But her blog is more than just fashion - she talks about nature and travelling, with glorious photos of her animals, landscapes, and magnificent places that all of us dream of going to! Do check her out when you have a minute.

Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:
- Inspire you
- Make you smile and laugh, or maybe give amazing information
- Are a great read
- Have an amazing design
- Any other reasons you can think of that make them Uber amazing!

Now one thing y'all know about me is that I really don't list blogs that I am forwarding this award to - I wanted to make an exception today, but I'm so pressed for time today it isn't even funny! So once again, I will continue my lame streak and tell you that every single one of my followers has an Uber Amazing Blog, and so do all the blogs that I follow!

I'm trying to get my blog more organized so that it's easier for my readers to navigate. I want the home page to be as uncluttered as possible. So I'm going to keep all my awards here on this post. There will be a link to this post so it will be readily accessible if anyone ever wants to view it.

Also, I will be updating my blog roll this week. I think I want to segment it by blog types, and I'm even thinking that I may update it once a month in order to feature different blogs. There are so many blogs out there that are just wonderful to read and I want them all to have their day in the sun.

Here are the blog awards I have been the happy recipient of thus far; please take a minute to check out these bloggers. They are all fantastic blogs in their own right!

Thank you Neil, for our Gold Hydrant award!! Y'all just HAVE to check out Neil's blog, Life With Dogs. It is hands down, THE funniest dog blog on the net!

A big thanks to Linda at Crone and Bear It!

Thanks to Jan at Expressive Papers
and Megs at My Edition of Gab

Thanks to Martha at Menagerie!

Thanks to Dawn at Rylee for Life
for my Lemonade Award!

Our *Updated* Menagerie

I'm asked from time to time how many horses we have, what kinds of dogs, and what about the cats? So here's the current stats on our animal roster, updated July 2011.

Our Horses

Close to 27 years old, Murphy is the most senior member of the herd. He's a registered quarter horse, and true to his breed, pretty darn laid-back. I think he's lookin' pretty good for 27 - Purina Equine Senior food sure helps keep him in good horse shape!

At only 11 years old, Stormy girl is just a kid. Don't let her burst of energy here fool anyone - she loves her food and would rather be a pasture ornament than work too hard burnin' calories. This was her first day in the big pasture, early spring 2009. She's just showing off her quarter horse style.

Paint horse = king of the herd. It wasn't always that way - Murphy was the reigning king until we added Stormy, and then with the 2009 let-out to pasture, the herd dynamics changed. Adding the mare had something to do with it, we're sure, and even though Murphy and paint horse are both geldings, well, they're still guys at heart. Paint horse is 11 years old, and only green broke. We hope to finish him.  Someday.

Our Dogs

Ringo is the ranch dog, although he has managed to squeeze his way through the screen door on numerous occasions, especially when it's too hot or too cold outside. He's a chocolate labrador, close to 8 years old, and has honed his mouse and rat killing skills better than the cats. Oh, and the occasional opossum who tries to steal his food.

Update:  Ringo is no longer the ranch dog. 
He absconded guard duties to the guineas. 
He is now a low-ranking house dog.

Tori Mae, my blue merle australian shepherd rescue, was adopted from Heartland Aussie Rescue just north of Columbus, Ohio (no longer in operation). She's almost 8 years old, and is THE frisbee fetch queen. Get a frisbee out, and prepare to seriously damage your rotator cuff. This girl will not stop until you hide the frisbee. All toys are now put away in cabinets in the house, else we are constantly having them thrown in our laps. She's quite serious about her job.

Trixie Lou, the cuddlebug, is 8 years old and not the least bit interested in fetching anything. She's learned her lesson and stays far away from Tori when that girl is working; Tori will mow her down! Trixie is approximately 7/8 australian shepherd and 1/8 border collie, and also a blue merle. The vet said her nerves never stood a chance (she's a big sissy most of the time).

Our Cats

We currently have 4 cats - two inside the house, and 2 barn cats. We had 3 barn cats until 2009 -- the mom, Boogie, mysteriously disappeared. She was the most affectionate of our barn cats, and was the first to jump into our laps and take a nap whenever we sat outside.

We miss you Boogie!

Fluff is Boogie's daughter. She's a great lil mouser, and she loves her big brother Ringo. She especially loves curling up next to Ringo in the autumn.

Barack is Fluff's kid. He's another fantastic mouser but has a bad habit of including some of our resident birds in his catches. Bad cat! We've had both Fluff and Barack "fixed", so here's hoping they hang around for at least a few years to amortize our investment.

Finally, there's Baybee. I rescued her from a litter of feral cats in Ohio. She started spending more and more time on my enclosed front porch there, especially in the winter, until she became a part-time indoor cat. Since my move to Kansas, she has become a full-time indoor cat. I'm not sure that the resident barn cats would take a likin' to her, and I'm afraid she might become coyote bait since she's not accustomed to the wide open prairie.

Newest member to our cat family is CiCi aka Seesers.  She was rescued from the side of the road at approximately 8 weeks old when I was driving home from a visit to Ohio in June 2010. I was only 3 miles from home when I saw her little head whip around sideways as I passed,  and my curiosity got the best of me, so I turned around and went back to see WHAT THE HECK was that - baby owl?  Ohmigoodness, a teeny baby kitty, who came right up to me meowing, wanting to be picked up - definitely not a feral cat!

I kilt that pesky toilet paper, mum.

And now, finally, her and Baybee are buddies.  Well, sort of.
It's an uneasy truce at times.

Our Birds

We started out with 5 guinea keets in the fall of 2010.  This meant we had to remodel, er, rebuild, the chicken coop on our property - hubby tore it down to the studs, and started replacing boards.

Next, we got 8 chicks in the spring of 2011.  Two Plymouth Barred Rocks, 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Buff Orpingtons and 1 Ameraucana.  We bought pullets - really didn't want any roosters - then we decided to buy one "pan-fry special" (which means, rooster).  So that upped our Barred Rocks to three chicks.

Now, we have THREE roosters (so much for spending extra for pullets!) and five hens.  Two roosters will be heading to freezer camp within the next 4-8 weeks. One buff orpington and one rhode island red ended up being roosters, in addition to the barred rock rooster we bought ON PURPOSE.

In the last few days, we have added 2 more guineas to our flock.  Well, they are not officially added to the flock yet.  They just hatched a few days ago, so it will be awhile before they are integrated into the coop with the other birds.  It was quite an experience, trying to hatch our own eggs using the incubator!

Last but not least, I have to include my buddy Greystoke even though he's no longer with us. He lived a pretty long and pampered life for a dalmatian (12 years). As my mom used to say, it was a good thing he had such a great home with us; anyone else probably would have dropped him off at the local shelter. He chewed EVERYTHING. He was especially fond of kitchen or bathroom trash; I quickly decided that closed trash receptacles was the way to go with him. I still use them to this day. I mean, why tempt the next generation of dogs?

Next he decided he liked money. He even ate a $20 bill one time; I waited for it to magically appear in the back yard. When it did I took it to our local credit union in a baggie and told them my dog had chewed it up. Well. He did. I didn't lie.

You will always be my first doggie love!

New Blog Awards, Blog Changes, and A Cold Front Blowing Through!

I've received two new awards this month and haven't got around to mentioning them... from Megs at My Edition of Gab, the One Lovely Blog award. Her award is for my photo blog, but I really don't post awards on that blog, so I'll keep it here with the other awards. Megs has recently started a new job and will be moving from Lincoln to Omaha, Nebraska. Big changes for her! But you just have to read this post on her blog about her new job - does this sound like the dream job all of us want or what? I'm officially jealous!! Thanks for the award, Megs!! :)

Linda from Crone and Bear It has given my blog the "I Love This Blog" award. Linda is retired and as such, has nothing better to do loves blogging and puts out some hugely entertaining posts. For a laugh-out-loud read about midlife memory, check out this post here. You'll love her brand of witty and snarky humor.

I especially liked the 4th criteria for this award: Continue your passion in writing because your hard work will always be appreciated.

Now, I wouldn't say I have a passion for writing; my original purpose for my blog was to keep family & friends in-the-know since I had just moved to Kansas. Then my blog took on a life of its own - I was amazed that people I didn't know were interested in reading about my boring days on the Kansas plains. So I feel I owe it to you, my readers, to put an exciting spin on my everyday existence. Heck, I'm beginning to believe my exciting life myself.

As usual, I digress. As you all know, I'm supposed to pass these awards on to my favorite readers but I'm going to take the easy way out high road and hand these awards to every single one of my readers. Yep, go ahead, copy and paste, YOU, YOU and YOU.... great blogs all of 'em! It's getting harder for me to get around to all of your blogs and read them, but know that I enjoy the time I do have to read your blogs - I wish there were more hours in the day!!

I mentioned in yesterday's post that there are blog changes a-coming; not only a new design but overall simplification. You may have noticed my music is already gone - Change Number One. Now I know my mom and some other readers enjoyed listening to my music, but I've received complaints that my blog was loading very slowly or not at all due to the music. Read my previous post and you'll find out that you can STILL listen to my music, just at another website. I've already heard from several people that removing the music has improved my blog download time significantly!

Now, about that cold front....
a high of 91 is forecast for tomorrow and I can't wait. I've been melting this week in 100 degree and higher temps. The horses and dogs and cats are all tired of it. We're all looking forward to tomorrow's balmy temps. That's sarcasm at its best for those who don't know me.

Clean Computer Desk = Return of Mojo

As I cleaned my computer desk this evening, ideas for my blog were racing through my head. None of these ideas were winning the race, in fact, I think they were mostly chasing each other round and round in circles.

The gal who's designing my blog has finally sent me a first proof of the new design; with some tweaks and final mapping of my navigation bar and sidebars, I'm hoping the new design is up within the next week or so. Fingers crossed.

Along with the new design, I'm going to be streamlining my blog and removing some elements to keep it clean, simple, and uncluttered.

I've already removed the Playlist music. I've had some complaints that it's preventing my blog from loading, and believe me, I know from my own experience, there's nothing that will make me leave a website quicker than a slow download.

For my music lovers, you can still listen to my music. I've set up a special website - This will take you directly to my music if you want to listen to it! I'll be updating the music list in the next week or so, hopefully adding some new music.

I also want to note that I've heard numerous complaints from our Internet Explorer browser users about blogs loading slowly or not at all. Apparently there are some problems between Blogger and the Internet Explorer browser. Supposedly, Blogger is working on these issues.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to download and use the Firefox browser. This browser has been around many years, I've used it for a long time, and I've read other people's rave reviews about this browser. Nary a problem with it. Go to if you want to download it.

That's all for now. Stay tuned, changes are floatin' on the prairie winds... now, if I can just harness those changes for the good of my blog! :)

I'm Suffering from the Blog Blahs

I felt it creeping up on me a few days ago. This overall blase, blah-blah feeling. All of a sudden, my blog feels like a humongous chore, another task to be accomplished in the course of my day. Taking pictures with my camera seems extremely cumbersome, and just too much work. Visiting other blogs? They look like impossible mountains to climb . My mojo seems to have left for summer vacation.

So it's official - I have the blog blahs.

I'm not sure if it's the heat (temps have been hovering around 100 for several days) or if it's just me and maybe a few midlife hormones (or lack thereof) thrown in for good measure.... but I fear I need a blog break. I've seen this happen to other people in blog land, but I ENJOY blogging, so how could this happen to me?! Oh, the brain drain. Any remotely creative thoughts I may have had seem to be sucked away by some unseen force.

In the meantime, if y'all see my mojo while you're out and about, can you tell it to come back home?!

Unspeakable Tragedy Strikes Caldwell, Kansas Family

I was shocked to learn yesterday that our substitute mailman, Scott Rice, died while swimming on Sunday at a family outing for Father's Day. He drowned while racing a friend to shore from a boat, but it took almost 5 hours for his body to be found, even though everyone on shore saw him go under. The cause of death is unknown, but a heart attack is suspected. Scott was only 44, with a wife and 3 children.

What makes this death even more of a tragedy - Scott had been a substitute mailman for over 10 years, waiting patiently for a permanent position to open. In the meantime, he had supported his struggling family with additional jobs, whatever he could find. On Friday, our mailman Ivan announced he would be retiring and his last day would be July 31. Even though everyone will miss Ivan, we were all happy for Scott; finally he would get this full-time position that he needed and wanted so badly.

I am sure their Father's Day outing on Sunday was a celebration of sorts, that he would finally be getting this job after 10 years. How tragic this turn of events - I still can't imagine the depths of grief this family is enduring. His children will have this tragic day indelibly etched on their minds forever, and will celebrate the loss of their father every future Father's Day.

A fund has been set up to help the children - The Rice Children's Education Fund. If you are interested in contributing to this fund, you can send a donation to the following; checks should be made payable to the Rice Children's Education Fund:

Schaeffer Mortuary
6 N. Main St.
Caldwell, KS 67022

I am still unsure of the services or memorial and when it will be held. If I find out more, I will be sure to update my blog with the information.

I know there are tragedies everyday in this country and around the world. This one just hit close to home and my heart, and to a family that had their hopes lifted so high on Friday, only to have those hopes and dreams dashed to the very depths of grief on Sunday.

I am sure that any donation or card that is sent to this family will be very appreciated. They will be in my prayers, as I hope you will include them in yours also.

No Dream is Unattainable

As you know, I rarely post videos on my blog. There's only been one other video, which was fun and of course, it was a feel-good video.

I hate watching videos online; I always prefer to read an article because I can read faster than I can watch a video. This one is the exception. An article wouldn't do this story the same justice as the video does.

I highly recommend that you take the time to watch this video. I think it will inspire you, cause you to be thankful for everything in your life that is good, perhaps even make you wonder how you can help others more, and finally, remind you that NOTHING is impossible and every dream is attainable. This young man's perseverance and dedication to his dream is intensely heart-warming.

More about "No Dream is Unattainable", posted with vodpod

Our Very First Green Pepper!

Ok, enough of the whole comments-and-how-should-one-respond-to-comments forum. No one's doing it the right way, or the wrong way. Everyone's doing the best they can given their life -- work, family, and recreational time which does not include blogging!

Now, on a lighter note. We have a few potted pepper and tomato plants. Here's our first sprouting veggie! Woo-hoo! Next year -- a real garden. This year -- just a few pots.

Pretty exciting stuff for a gal who hasn't gardened since mom & dad made her weed the garden all those years ago, and you know I just loved that.

I know how excited y'all are for me, so I'll keep you in the loop and let you know how our lil green pepper is doing.

My Summary of Previous Post: Comment Here or Comment There?

So 26 people commented regarding how they handle comments on their blogs - whether they email responses back to the commenters, or visit their blogs and leave a reciprocal comment, or reply to comments within their own comments.

For the most part, I think everyone is evenly divided on this subject. I Need a Martini Mom had over 100 comments on this topic, and I think her comments were about as evenly divided as those left on my blog.

Here's my take on the comments that y'all left on this subject: we all do the best we can, and we all do it differently. And there's really no right or wrong way, no true blog etiquette when it comes to comments and responding to them.

Neil from Life with Dogs responded with his trademark humor, at first: No comment. :-p

He followed that up with: And now for a real answer. I can't do it. Can't visit or comment on all. And I don't like that I cannot, but when I work 80 hours a week, getting back to 30 or 45 comments from a post can eat a lot of time.

Bottom line: just respond as much as you can. Obviously those who get TONS of comments cannot feasibly respond to every single one. But I've been to blogs who have, for example, less than 20 readers and when I've left comments I've never heard a word from them... even when I've left multiple comments over the space of a few weeks. I'm sorry, but if you obviously don't care that I'm reading your blog, then I'm not going to visit anymore. At that point, I'm feelin' like a dog kicked to the curb.

Midlife Slices said: Either way, I feel if you leave your blog open to comments, you should respond in some way or another and if you're too busy to do that, then you should close your comments.

I have to agree with her statement. If you want to blog and you have no intention of ever responding or even acknowledging those who read your blog, then why are you blogging at all?! Make your blog private if it's only for family and friends. Or close the comments section if you don't want to deal with comments.

As far as responding to comments, we've probably all wondered or thought, "there's got to be a better way to do this!" I always have a feeling of disorganization when I'm trying to stay on top of everyone who has commented; I want to be sure I take the time to return the favor in one way or another.

I've decided that it works best for me to leave the emails in my inbox (I have the comments set up to forward to my yahoo email account) until I have taken the time to go through them and reciprocate - either by email if their email is available, or by going to their blog.

I think most of us agreed that it sure does make life easier if people turn on their email permissions -- in Blogger, you can do this within your Edit Profile section. I'm not sure how it's set up in Wordpress. Sometimes, if you've left me a comment that includes a question for me, I prefer to respond directly to you. I still visit your blog in most cases, but having your email just makes my life a lil easier!

Smart Mouth Broad said: I always respond to comments within my blog but wonder if anyone comes back to read them. I love it when it turns into a conversation in the comment section but it's not always that way. Who has the time to go back several times. So many little time.

SMB hit it right on the nose; when the comments turn into a conversation, it's a pretty cool thing! I guess if I don't respond within my own comments, I've killed the potential to have this happen.

When I posted this topic on Sunday, I had decided to change my response format, and to start commenting within my own comments. But after doing it only once on Saturday, it feels foreign to me. I'm not used to doing it that way. So I've changed my mind and I'm not going to do it that way. I'll continue responding via email or by visiting your blogs.

In the meantime, I think we can all hope that perhaps Blogger and/or Wordpress will come up with a way to streamline the whole comments forum. I like the way Wordpress allows their bloggers to respond to comments, and from what I understand, the response posts within the comment section AND can also be set up to email the comment response to that person. If that's the case, then Wordpress sounds like they're on the right track.

Wendy from Of Books and Boys mentioned: After reading, I have longed to have a comment forum as she does (she calls hers the VIP lounge and regularly gets feedback conversations going on).

We'll cross our fingers and hope that the blog engines out there will think harder about how to better their available comment options; a forum like Cardiogirl has would be oh-so-cool! There are most likely plug-ins out there, but the more things I "plug-in" to my blog, the chances increase that I'm going to mess up my blog for sure!

I just proofread what I've typed in this post so far... my eyeballs are chasing themselves around in their sockets. I'm not sure if it's because what I've written here so far is confusing, or if it's because I'm extremely tired.

I'll go ahead and post this and maybe take a nap, or get caught up on the Bachelorette episodes I've missed. A few hours from now I'll read this again; if it still sounds confusing, then I'll fix it. 'K?

Dogs Are Our Link to Paradise

Dogs are our link to paradise.
They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

With Much Fuss, Tori Mae Finally Picks A Winner!

Tori Mae wanted to draw a winner, but as you can see, I'm getting no cooperation whatsoever. I came close to telling her "forget it" and using

Then I asked Miss Trixie Lou if SHE wanted to pull out a winner.... NOPE, no interest here.

Finally, as I mixed up the entries and let them flutter back down to the bowl, I think Miss Tori Mae saw an opportunity to play a game of fetch. She became interested, but instead of playing fetch, she began to eat the entry she selected!

With a quick grab and save by me, you can still make out the winner's name - Pseudonymous High School Teacher! *applause*
Congrats to Pseudo!

And our second place winner, with the most comments in the sidebar widget, is Smart Mouth Broad from Words of Wisdom from a Smart Mouth Broad -- hey SMB, you've been quite the winning gal lately. Maybe you should play the lottery. Seriously.

Speaking of the lottery, Pseudo won with only one entry. So it just goes to prove that $1.00 can win you millions... ok, this was a free entry and she only won some stamps and other schtuff, but you know what I mean. Maybe Pseudo needs to play the lottery too... maybe we all need to play the lottery! You don't need to spend a fortune to make a fortune. So they say.

Ladies, send me your addresses ( and I will get your loot off to you.

And a big, big thanks to everyone who entered! It was fun, and you know there will be more giveaways in the future on Oz Girl's blog!

Next time I'm using instead of writing all those names on little pieces of paper... call me kwayzeeee, I know.

Comment Here or Comment There?

A simple thing. You visit, you read, you comment.
You're done.

So now, as the author of your blog, how do you respond to your comments?

Do you email the commenter, if their email is provided?

Do you go to the commenter's blog, comment on their post, and then respond to the comment they left you?

Or do you answer everyone's comments within your own comments?

Do you revisit blogs to see if the author has posted comments responding to other's comments?

I have always either emailed my readers with answers/comments, or I would visit their blogs to comment and answer their comments or questions to me. But I've noticed that many people respond to comments within their own comments, on their own blogs.

So just the other day I decided to change tactics -- see comments under Of Dogs and Biscuits and Gold Hydrant Awards, and you'll see I've responded to several people within those comments.

But I still wondered if this is something that other bloggers ponder, and I guess it must be, because lo and behold I Need a Martini Mom posted the very question (and some others) on her blog yesterday. Go ahead, take a peek at her blog and the to-date 99 comments she has received on this topic. It would seem the answers are perhaps evenly divided. Or not. I asked her if she's going to tabulate all the answers and post them in her next post for everyone to see. ;-)

I am totally in agreement with her on one item however: please adjust your settings so that when you DO leave a comment, your email address is available for the author of the blog to respond to you if they choose to do so! This is easily done by changing the settings in the Dashboard of your Blogger profile. Go to Edit Profile and in the first block of settings, make sure you have a check mark in the box for Show my email address.

I always, always try to respond to everyone who comments on my blog. It may not be a direct response to your comment, but I will - at the least - pay a visit to your blog and comment, sometimes on several of your posts. If someone asks me a direct question, I email them with a response if their email is available, or I make sure to respond when I visit their blog to comment.

So tell me what you think of my new format -- answering your comments within my comments, and also how YOU do it. I was curious to know the consensus on this topic and I Need a Martini Mom just pushed my button to post this topic sooner rather than later!

Of Dogs and Biscuits and Gold Hydrant Awards

Last chance today to enter my

Summertime Giveaway...
deadline is tonight,
June 12th, at midnight!

Today we made these mouthwatering dog biscuits (recipe below) in honor of the Gold Hydrant Award bestowed on this blog by Life With Dogs blog owner Neil Brogan. See the shiny new award in my sidebar.

Keep reading for your chance to have some
fresh, homemade dog biscuits sent to you next week!

Trixie, Tori and Ringo were SO excited when I told them about the award. And when I told them that I would make fresh dog biscuits for the occasion, well, they just about drooled all over each other! They were not as thrilled when I told them we should send some biscuits to Nigel, Sola and Truffles to thank them for the special award. I reminded them of the goodness in sharing.... um, they weren't buying it and said dogs aren't good at sharing. Well, I suppose that's true...

For those who haven't made our dogs' acquaintance, here are pics of the lot of 'em...

Ringo and Tori, waiting for the frisbee toss

Tori (again) and Trixie at Getaway Cabins, southern Ohio,
several years ago

Some history on my dog-biscuit-making capabilities...

Years ago, when my dalmatian was in his last year and had difficulty digesting his food, I would make fresh dog biscuits AND dog food all the time. It was the only thing he could eat without throwing up. What we will do for the love of a dog...

I miss this boy!

He loved sitting in a chair at the front door.

And I digress, as usual. For those who enjoy pampering their pooches, I'm providing the recipe for the dog biscuits as pictured above. (Recipe taken from Three Dog Bakery Cookbook)

Party Hearty Mix-It-Up Mix
Makes about 84 2-1/2" size biscuits (that's how many it made for me, at least)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg and 4 tsp skim milk in a bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together 2-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

Combine dry ingredients with wet mixture and stir thoroughly. Dough will be moist and sticky.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut shapes. Note: Do not add too much flour to dough - by the time you roll out a 3rd or 4th time, the dough can get unmanageable if too much flour mixes in. Use only enough flour to keep it from sticking to countertop.

Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on rack and store in airtight container. Note: My oven runs pretty warm and I use the airbake cookie sheets, which usually bake items slower -- yet my time was still closer to 12 mins.

Overall, a very simple and delicious dog biscuit treat! The girls and Ringo wholeheartedly endorsed my revisit to the world of homemade dog biscuits, and they are paws-itively convinced that I should make more dog biscuits in the weeks to come. They twisted my paw, er, hand...I finally gave in... I said ok! We shall continue to bake healthy dog treats and offer them up as prizes and send them out to family and friends, so that their dogs can also enjoy healthy and nutritious dog biscuits!

Alrighty then. My next batch of fresh homemade dog biscuits will be even more deelish; I have many recipes. I'll be sending a box to the crew at Life With Dogs, with many thanks. I will also be sending out boxes to the first two readers who comment on this post... so if you have dogs, you owe it to them to be "quick on the paw" and post a comment here!

Note: These dog biscuits are made with human-grade ingredients, so you could eat them yourself, if you wanted to.... but really, they are for the dogs. So it might be helpful if you own a few dogs, or at least know someone with dogs, before you try to be one of the first two commenters to scam your freebies. :-)

Storm Chasers Spotted Near our House!

Don't forget to enter my
Summertime Giveaway...
there's still 2 days left to enter.
Giveaway deadline is this Friday,
June 12th, at midnight.

Hubby just left for work 30 minutes ago... and texted me when he was 3 miles away to tell me there were storm chasers at the local gas station. Hmmm. Yay. That tells me that they have high hopes for the band of storms headed our way. It's beginning to darken to the southwest; I estimate the storms will arrive by 3:00 p.m., only 45 minutes away.

It may be a good idea to clear the shoes out of our
bedroom closet in case me and the girls need to
dash into it for safety...

Before I shut the computer down for fear of lightning obliterating my iMac, I will regale you with some pics of yesterday afternoon's storms...

These little tips coming out of the clouds were rotating. I kid you not. But they never developed into anything significant. Oh, and the clouds were NOT that blue yesterday... I forgot to change my camera lighting from incandescent to CLOUDY. Duh.

The thing I love about storms out here on the plains - you can SEE them coming. There aren't any buildings to block your view - you can see how far away they are, and which direction they are coming from, so you know if you are threatened or not. Many times I have watched a storm pass just to the south of us. It's amazingly beautiful!

Today's storms are almost upon us. So far, we only have a flash flood watch, but weather warnings out here are always subject to change.

On that note, I'll power down my computer to spare it any possible damage from lightning. Yes, I have a very good Belkin power strip with surge protection... BUT my computer was fried once by lightning, even with a good power strip! Why take the chance?!

Update: Storms were lame today; there were not even any cool cloud formations like yesterday. But there will be more photo opps in the next few days since we have ongoing storms forecast.

The Big Summertime Giveaway

I've been wanting to host another giveaway for some time; with the convergence of several momentous events, now seemed like the best time to throw it out there! And so my giveaway is in honor of:

1. The obvious - SUMMERTIME! Yeah!
2. My blog is over a year old (March)
3. I'm close to my 100th post on THIS blog
4. My new blog "look" - coming very soon, it's almost here!

There are going to be two ways to win prizes in this giveaway. First, by commenting/following and/or tweeting about my giveaway (see "rules" below). Secondly, whoever is in the top commenter position (widget in my sidebar) at the time the giveaway closes will win the second prize!

The first prize will include the following:
Sheet of twenty (20) of my custom Gerbera Daisy stamps

Eight (8) of my custom Gerbera Daisy note cards

One (1) custom Gerbera Daisy mousepad

The above Gerbera Daisy items have been popular sellers in my Zazzle store, so I wanted to share them with you, my bloggy readers!

A beautiful shabby chic ceramic pitcher, along with some yummy lemonade - I wanted to provide SOMETHING so you could put your lovely pitcher to use immediately! (Or you can mix up some margies, whatever you prefer... or need.)

And finally, a really yummy book, Miracle Juices -- this book not only has great photos, but recipes for 60 nutritious juices recommended to combat specific ailments such as asthma, high blood pressure, insomnia and hangovers. All the juice recipes are guaranteed to boost health and vitality. Nutritional analysis of every juice details the vitamin, mineral and calorie content. It's a great book!

Now, what you need to do to enter my giveaway:

Follow me! If you already follow me, just leave a comment on this post letting me know this factoid, and you're entered. New followers leave a comment letting me know if you're following me via Google Friend Connect (the "Follow" box in sidebar) or RSS feed.

Once you're following me, here are several other ways to earn extra entries:
* follow my other photo blog
* follow me on Twitter
* tweet about the giveaway
* blog about my giveaway and earn an extra 5 entries!

Please leave me a separate comment for any of the above "tasks" that you complete. Remember, my lil pea brain has to tally up all the entries for each person. Make it easy on a girl, ok?

And, the second prize...
will go to whoever is in the top commenter position in my sidebar widget at midnight on Friday, June 12. The prize will be a sheet of 20 of my Gerbera Daisy stamps, (2) of the Gerbera Daisy note cards, and a book by David Elliot Cohen, "One Year Off".

(This book is awesome, I enjoyed it so much; it's the true story of one family's decision to trade their home for an around-the-world trip for one year. And they didn't have scads of $$ to spend, they did it in the most frugal ways possible. It's a humorous (they have 3 kids) and inspirational read.)

The giveaway will close at midnight on Friday, June 12. Miss Tori Mae will draw the winner for the first prize and I'll announce the winners for both prizes on Monday, June 15. She was a bit put out that I used to draw my last giveaway winner, so I've acquiesced to her demands and I'm allowing her to pick the winner again. I guess she enjoyed it more than she let on.