Thursday, November 5, 2009


In a few weeks the official start of the holiday season will be upon us starting with Thanksgiving. Traditionally its a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. Thanksgiving is a holiday where families create traditions to be handed down to the next generation. It is a time to be thankful and for family gatherings.

The Old Educator shares his family's Thanksgiving dinner recipes and offers holiday entertainment ideas. Browse the site for Thanksgiving Tips, a useful timetable, recipes and more!

Here's some printable Thanksgiving partyware compliments of Paper & Cake.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Homemade Bubble Bath {Recipe}

Here’s an easy recipe for making an all-natural, homemade bubble bath that you can customize to your own preference by mixing favorite scents–also ditches harsh perfumes and chemicals that some commercial bubble baths use.


1 pint distilled water (warm)
bar of castile soap (2 ounces)
liquid glycerin (2 ounces)
essential oils (lavender, orange, etc.)


  • Shave the bar of soap into a bowl then add the water and liquid glycerin. Stir to mix well.
  • Allow to sit until the soap shavings are soft then stir with a wooden spoon to mix smooth.
  • Add your favorite essential oils, stir then pour bubble bath into mason jars, seal with lid.

If you’re making this to give as a gift, add labels that include the ingredients and decorate the jar with raffia, ribbon, charms or whatever embellishments you like.

Source: Green Made Easy by Chris Prelitz

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sunflower Sentiments Note Cards

Recently I had note cards made of several sunflower designs. Using photographs of the sunflower in our yard and a flower arrangement I gave my mom, I designed the cards and uploaded the file to MPIX ( for printing - they do a great job and fast, too! Here are a few of the designs. The last one is my Twitter background.

Coco and Callie on Camera

My friend, Dana, gave me a Drinkwell after her kitty ignored it. Knowing my cat, Callie (Bengal kitty) LOVES water, she thought I'd get better use out of it. Well, not me, actually, but my cat sure likes it and even my toy poodle Coco. When they didn't think I was watching them, I shot some video of them and then uploaded it to YouTube. My dog watches intently as Callie plays in the water patiently waiting her turn to try it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


This morning my mom forwarded an email for this 5 minute chocolate mug cake recipe and I can't wait to try it! I don't know who to give credit to since this was an email forward and everyone knows they have traveled the world! I plan to try it later today. Enjoy!

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (microwave-safe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
(This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

Why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunflower Sentiments

Someone recently asked me how many pictures I take in a week's time. That was a difficult question in that I almost always have my camera with me and snap pictures without realizing it. If there is a scene I find interesting, before I know it, I've taken maybe a dozen or so pictures. The memory card in my camera has many pictures which are downloaded several times a week.

I recently attended the Party at the Lake (at Indian Lake) and thought, "Gee, I don't think I took many pictures." Well...later when downloading pictures, I discovered I had taken over 80! I also discovered when viewing those pictures I had snapped some sunflower pictures earlier in the day.

My husband had planted some "giant" sunflowers out by the water earlier this summer. Well let me tell you, our squirrels discover anything that we plant is fair game, sunflowers included. The stalk was about 18 inches tall when a squirrel decided to knock it over and have it for breakfast. My husband, duck tape in hand, applied a splint and wound duck tape around the stalk to support it. The leaves on the stalk were wilted and I told him, "NO WAY!" After tender loving care and much watering, the sunflower started growing and the most beautiful sunflower appeared!

The pictures of the sunflower reminded me of prints and cards I'd seen at card shops. I thought, "Well why not? I can turn these pictures into something different." I began by making a birthday card for my brother (posted here) so if he wanted, he could frame it. On the back of the card I put, "Sunflower Sentiments." Several days later when renewing a website domain for one of my companies, I thought I'd check to see if that domain was available. I doubted it would be because that seemed like a pretty common phrase. Imagine my delight when it was available! It was like it was meant to be. I still don't know what to do with it, so have made the site as digital designing...which it is.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bear... bear... Big Bear... big bear chase meeeeeeee...!

One of my all time favorite movies, The Great Outdoors...I could watch it over and over and never tire of it. Well, now I can really identify with the characters in the movie with my encounter with a bear recently. OK...not too bad, but it was enough to make my heart skip a beat or two or three! My husband and I were on our way back from a wonderful week's vacation at Hilton Head with the family and stopped in Gatlinburg, which is one of our most favorite places to visit. (Not so much the town, but the Smokey Mountains). We thought about taking in the Dixie Stampede but GH wasn't interested in seeing a horse fight (even if it was to Dolly Parton music!), so we considered seeing The Temptations Review with one of the last of the original group. I called for tickets, found we could get front row seats (hmmm....not a good sign?) and the show was 2 hours long. Because of a sciatic nerve problem, I didn't think sitting through two hours of a concert would be the best thing after being on the road all day. So we decided to take the Roaring Forks motorway trip which we always do when in the area. We've never seen a bear on that route, but I had my camera...just in case.

It was about 5 pm and the shadows in the park were playing tricks with me because it seemed like there were bears everywhere. That was wishful thinking. As we rounded a sharp turn heading up the mountain, a van stopped in front of us and a lady stepped out of the passenger's side with her hand up. I took that as, "I've seen a bear and I'm parking it," signal. I grabbed my camera, jumped out of the car and ran around the parked van only to stop dead in my tracks. There in front of me about 15 yards was the biggest black bear! The lady put her fingers to her lips and mouthed, "3 cubs!" OK, I'll be careful.

As soon as I could bring the camera up to my eye from shaking so badly, I started shooting pictures. Most of them are very blurry because of how I was trembling. The feeling was one of exreme fear from being so close to the bear and raw excitement. By then several cars had stopped and before I knew it around 20 people had gathered to observe the mama bear and her cubs. She was very patient with us and went about searching for food and making sure her cubs were behind her. She paced back and forth but hissed and snorted occassionally. At one point she bounded out and that's when I took a running dash for the car. Thank you GH for having that door open!

Many people travel to the area in hopes of spotting a bear and even though one might be spotted, it's rare to get a decent picture. If I had a tripod and had set the shot up waiting for the perfect moment, then that would have been great. However those opporunities don't always happen, so I was thrilled to get the pictures I did. By the way, the cubs were just too cute!

postscript: When I was developing the bear pictures at a do-it-yourself machine at the local drug store, the pharmacist told me a black bear had been spotted around Roundwood, which is on the north side of Indian Lake. That is pretty far from their normal territory! Another black bear has been spotted between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Lynda's Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

A childhood classmate of mine who I've re-connected with on Facebook, posted a recipe she likes for salmon. Leaving out some of the funny comments from her brother, here is the recipe which is, so yummy!!!

3 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (2 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed


  1. Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour in warm water. Soak longer if you have time. (I would soak them as long as you can.)
  2. In a shallow dish, stir together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Place the salmon fillets in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to one hour. (I put in a Ziploc bag.)
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Place the planks on the grate. The boards are ready when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.
  4. Place the salmon fillets onto the planks and discard the marinade. Cover, and grill for about 20 minutes. Fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill.

The Eagle Has Landed

While boating over Memorial Weekend, we decided to hunt the eagle's nest which we heard was nesting a couple of chicks. I was so disappointed not to spot any activity around the nest. As we turned the corner at the north end of Pony Island, I spotted what I thought was a vulture in a tree. Since they are so common, I didn't think twice about it until something in me said, grab those binoculars, dummy! Of course I usually pay attention to the little voice speaking, so I did. Imagine my surprise when that vulture was actually one of the eagles. I put my hand out in the "stop" position to my husband and pointed up, shoved the binoculars in his hands and grabbed my camera. Since there were leaves in the host tree, it was difficult to get a clear shot, but here is one which turned out pretty well. In fact, I submitted it to the Indian Lake Current and they published it on the front page. I felt honored! A couple of local residents filmed the pair of chicks and posted it to YouTube. This is the first time in over 100 years a eagle has nested in the area. There have been eagles in most zoos we've visited, but the thrill of seeing one in the wild is a great feeling! They are truly a magnificent bird!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Spring!!!

Springtime at the lake is such a special time! I love watching the re-birth of Nature after a nice winter’s nap. Leaves uncurl and reach upward and tender flowers break through the soil in search of nourishment that the sun provides. The lily pads appear almost overnight and the birds return home. Some never leave and ride out the winter at Indian Lake.

It’s always fun to identity our “regulars” – those Mallards that know we keep corn on hand for them. They’ve been coming back for generations and actually waddle into the garage in search of the sack of corn. Even the squirrels know where we keep the stash!

Sitting outside this beautiful spring afternoon, the lake is calm and birds are singing. The distant hum of a boat motor can be heard. I’m surprised there aren't more out taking advantage of this great day. Glancing up just now I see one of the resident Eagles soaring overhead. We found it’s nest, which is gigantic compared to the Blue Heron nests. This is the second time I’ve see the eagle. Last week one was perched in a tree waiting patiently for dinner. Note to self: NEVER leave home without the camera and zoom lens!

While in search of the eagle’s nest, I watched the swans by Long Island. One male was gracefully performing his “swan song.” They are truly beautiful creatures.

The Purple Martins should be returning any day now. We have a multi-floored lake house just for them! We mark on the calendar each year the first day they’re spotted so we can get the lodge ready for them.

On a sad note, our stately willow tree, a landmark on Cranberry Bay for many, many years, lost a huge limb during a wind storm a few months back. Unfortunately, the trauma has robbed it of most of its life and will need to be cut down. Gone are the days of the grandkids scurrying up to jump off one of the limbs into the lake.

As I finished writing this blog, two Purple Martins flew over. The scouts are out! Time to get the, “Open for the Season,” sign out!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cinnamon Cream Roll-Ups

1 (8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 (1 pound) loaf sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350º F. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, egg yolk and 1/4 cup sugar; mix well. Flatten bread slices with a rolling pin. Spread cream cheese mixture over each slice to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up diagonally from point to point. In a shallow bowl, combine the cinnamon and remaining cup of sugar. Dip roll-ups in melted butter,then in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place in an ungreased 15x10 inch baking pan.

Bake at 350º for 16-19 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and place on wire racks to cool.

Helpful Hints

Drain not doing its job?
Try one of these home remedies:

  • Pour in a cup of plain yogurt and leave it for several hours.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of salt down the drain, then a good amount of boiling water, flush periodically with hot tap water.
  • If the drain is plugged with hair, pour in a bottle of Nair; after half an hour, add very hot water.
  • Shake in half a box of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar; after things stop foaming, flush with very hot water.
  • Use a toilet plunger, apply strong force down over the plugged drain, then release.
  • Use a drain-cleaning snake.
  • When all else fails, call a plumber!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mom's Black Beans & Rice

It seems fitting one of the first posts should be about food! Here is a great recipe my mom has been making for years. She fixes it for their potluck every week while vacationing in Florida.

2 pkgs. black beans
1 large onion, chopped
2 small smoked ham hocks
1 small jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds first)
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 small garlic cloves, diced
1/2 tsp. Greek seasoning
salt to taste
1/2 tsp baking soda
Minute rice (fix whatever servings you need)

Soak beans overnight in water, to which you add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Before cooking, drain and rinse several times. Cook beans and ham hocks in a 3 1/2 quart crock-pot. Add enough water to cover; then add diced onions, garlic and spices. Add more spices as needed to taste. Start crock pot on high, then turn to low, after hocks are cooked. Removed hocks and dice finely, then add to beans. Add more water, if needed. When beans are done, serve over rice. You can also bake some cornbread to serve with the beans. Hot or mild salsa on top, completes the dish. Enjoy!

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