Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Best Friend from High School

How many times I've looked back over the years, and wondered what happened to Sparky. In High School,  we were inseparable. Her mom was my mom, and visa versa. Where one was, the other was sure to be found. We had our difference, and that is what made us so special together.

I remember when my mom pulled me out of public school, and put me in a private school.  Sparky soon followed. For whatever reason, the school ended up kicking me out (as I had predicted to my mother they would). Sparky was kicked out as well. Her offense, being associated with me. The following year, several of the girls that had been going to the private school, were now in our school.

We would walk to the store from my house, cutting through the field where a bull roamed, and would gladly give chase if he saw you (we learned real quick how to jump barb wire and slide under said wire). We would go camping, and not get any sleep. Sneak out of the house, and meet up with friends. Oh yes, we were THOSE Girls, the ones who defied our parents, and thought we were invincible.

Boyfriends came and went, as did other friends to our world, but we were solid. We knew the other would always be there. We were closer then sisters, and we appreciated each other.

After High School, Sparky and I drifted apart. We went on our separate paths through life. Raising our families and learning about ourselves. I thought about her often through the years, wondered how she was, where she was, and how life was treating her.

One day, as I am on Facebook, I see a new friend request. I go to check it out, to either approve or deny the request. I didn't recognize the name, as she was going by her married name. But,, the picture,, what?? No,, that can't be her?! I immediately accepted the request, even though I still wasn't sure it was her. I head over to her profile.

Let's see, Born in NJ, raised in FL, went to Riverdale High (loving known as Referjail, even to this day). OMG! THIS CAN'T BE MY SPARKY! I just had a dream about her a week before! It was my Sparky! 

We immediately picked up our friendship right were we left off, never missing a beat. This is the kind of friend you find one in a life time (twice if your really lucky).

Sparky (Hmm, sorry, AMY) is back, and I have completed another circle in my life. Amy and her family are planning a trip up here in June or July. She is still living in our wonderful town of Fort Misery (Ft Myers), and from what I understand, not to far from our old stomping grounds. I'm excited to see her again. And know that our lives, once again, will never be the same. I just hope our husbands can stand the two of us together!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

5 Blogging Basics

As I hop around the blogesphere, I look at a couple of different things that will help me decide if I want to follow a blog within the first couple of minutes. A quick list of 10 things that can bring you more followers or make folks rum from your blog never to return again.


1. Design ~ A clean design, with minimal distraction on the sidebars will bring you more followers. A good way to do this is to use pages to display your Awards, have an "about" and contact pages (critical pages for ANY website).  Keep your header at 774 x 198 px, this will allow more of the blog to show, and the readers won't have to scroll below the fold line before reading anything.

2. Videos and Music ~ DO NOT have music playing as soon as someone lands on your page. This is a big turn off, not to mention, some people blog hop while the kids are sleeping, or the rest of the family is watching tv. I will leave a blog almost immediately if a player starts up. If you really want music on your site, then set the player to let the visitor select the song, when they are ready to listen.  Videos are great! But, if your going to have them on your sidebars, make sure they fit the area in which you placing them. If the video is too big to fit in the sidebar, it will throw off the rest of the site, and visitors will have to scroll sideways to see what you offer. Nobody likes to scroll sideways.

3. Fonts and Color ~ Keep your fonts simple. If you are using a fancy font that is hard to read, visitors will leave before reading the first sentence! And while we are talking fonts, lets talk about content area. Keep the background white, and use black fonts, These are what our eyes are trained to seek out when reading. Font style, content area, and font color can make or break a blog.

4. Flashing Graphics ~ A definite NO NO! When I first started blogging back in 2006, I loved using those flashy graphics that blinked and changed. I had a friend tell me that she could not visit my blog because of all the flashing images because they caused her to have seizures. I started hearing more about this reaction to the images, and now only use them in a minimal way.

5. Know Your Goals ~ Are you blogging just for you and your family? Or do you want to grow a following and maybe monetize your blog? Do you want Sponsors, to do reviews for pay, affiliate marketing? Think about your ultimate goal with your blog, and work your way there.

The most beneficial thing I have done with my Ranch Blog was to take Darren Rowe's 31 Day to Build a Better Blog Challenge. Although this challenge can seem daunting, it is well worth the time to take. And when you have completed the challenge, you can go back and work on days that needed more time to expand on. Get the E-Book, and work your way to a better blog in 31 days!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Crock Pot Recipes

I love to use my crock pot, specially when I have a lot to do, or just don't feel like standing over a stove at night. From Beef Stew, Venice, and one of my favorite things, chili! And with today being the Bud Shootout in Daytona, it was a perfect day to make it!

Our recipe for chili is pretty simple, as chili goes, and a bit different then what you might think too.

1 lb ground beef (the leaner the better, as far as I'm concerned)
3 cans kidney beans (one dark, 2 light)
1 packet chili seasoning mix
1 8 oz can tomato paste
1 pint jar diced tomatoes (a can of store bought if you don't can your own tomatoes)
Onion and green pepper to taste
1/2 TBL Cumins
1 TBL Cilantro

Brown ground beef, add all ingredients to crock pot, set on low, and let simmer about 4 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. Serve with shredded cheese & crackers (we use multi-grain crackers)

IF you like a HOT chili, add a bit of jalapeƱo pepper to the mix. I was out of fresh onions and green peppers :(

Yields 6-8 servings

Melt some Velveeta Cheese in the microwave, and add to the chili for your next Nascar Race Day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writer's Workshop

Living with horses is always an adventure. Whether you have to fix a fence, clean a stall, call a Vet, or just sit and laugh. They are big, adorable, loving animals, that can cheer you up on any given day, no matter how bad of a mood your in, or how lonely your feeling.

They can take a ho-hum day, and make it memorable.

Cisco on an Evening Graze

Imagine this if you can:

It's spring, still wet and muddy from our winter, and early spring showers. Horses are feeling good with the weather getting warmer. Cisco, our only gelding on the property, is a big boy, 16 hands tall! He is a Tennessee Walker, as are all of our horses.

I was making a round in the back yard on our lawnmower, when I saw Cisco come barreling down the hill. I just had to stop and watch, because I knew what was about to happen. Unable to stop in a normal fashion, he sat on his butt, front feet out in front of him, sliding closer to the creek!  I kept waiting for him  to start back paddling his front feet, looking for more traction.

The look on his face was absolutely a Kodak Moment, and me without my Kodak, wouldn't you know it! I laughed so hard and so loud, I heard my echo in the woods behind the house, where are horses roam. I got some funny looks from the rest of the herd, and it just made me laugh all the harder.

Mama's Losin' It

Family Time

I just spent over an hour on the phone with my mom. I had not talked to her in a few weeks, and it isn't like her not to call me at least once a week. So, I was beginning to get worried about her, and gave her a call.

It was good to hear her voice, I didn't realize how much I had missed her chatter. Seems she is doing fine, and doing some more work on her place. She and her dog, Winston, are doing good. Fairing the Georgia cold as well as any Floridian could.

Winston ~ Keeping Mom Safe from all
I miss being close to my mom, when we could visit each other whenever we wanted. I miss knowing she is within a few miles of me. Even though I moved to Tennessee several years ago, I still miss her unexpected visits to check on me and the kids. I miss the family gatherings, and the family fusses.

She has her friends, and is building a new life for herself. But so often, I wish she would have chosen to come here and be closer to me. I worry about her. Not in the present day sense, but in the future. I know she is healthy and able to take care of herself now. I want her closer to me, so I can care for her as she cared for me. Supporting her, loving her, enjoying her company, and learning from her.

I do have to wonder how she is going to operate her computer. My son, who is now 29, has been with her since he was a baby. And my parents had bought him a computer, which he grew up using, and even did some web design work, and gaming programming.

He has recently moved back to Florida, leaving my mom on her own with the computer. Sure, she used them at work, and actually got really good with the programs they had to use there. But, at home, for personal use, she is almost completely lost.

So, while talking to her on the phone tonight, we set up a Yahoo! email account for her. The first contact she added was me, since I was talking to her. And she started reading all my blog posts, tweets, and FB comments.

OHOH,, what have a I done? I told her now she keep up with me, and find out what I'm really up to. Of course, I didn't stop there! I just HAD to show her how we can chat live, with Yahoo Chat Web Version.
My next step, is to get her to Skype, so we can use video, and when her new great-grandson here, she will be able to meet him and get to know him.

Not sure how long this learning curve is going to last, so I hope she is a quick learner, and can adapt quickly. I wonder if Yahoo does video, then I would not have to teach her a whole new IM program!