Want to help cut spending in Washington? Here’s your chance

That’s right folks, you too can have your voice heard. Go to the YOUCUT website and have your say.

How it works:

YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project – is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Vote on this page today for your priorities and together we can begin to change Washington’s culture of spending into a culture of savings.

All of us want to be able to do something and this is about as easy as it gets. Vote on the cuts you want and make your own suggestions while you’re at it. You aren’t even required to register as a ‘member’ before you can vote. So quit your bitching about the budget – speak up and vote.

If we have any hopes of ever changing how things are done in Washington by our leaders, then we have participate too. Try it, you may like it.

Writer Chick

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Cool Things to do With Ice

For your amusement, here is a powerpoint presentation of some very amazing ice sculptures. If you click on the link you have the option of either downloading it or opening it. It does however require MS powerpoint to view it. So if you have that, enjoy! If not, take my word for it, amazing stuff. 🙂

harbinsnowicefestival

Freddie's Back in Town

Update: Last spring I had a problem with some ever so noisy and annoying crickets screeching outside my bedroom window. So I went in search of a solution. I learned that frogs ate crickets and so began my quest to populate my garden with cricket eating frogs. Not quite as easy as I imagined, pet stores don’t seem to want to sell them and they are mighty expensive too.

So, I opted to created a frog pond and spa in hopes of enticing some frogs to move into the neighborhood. Well, to my delight and surprise about a week after the launch of the spa, I did in fact have three froggies move into the garden. Yay, I was going to be cricket free soon. Well not so much, these were some mighty tiny little frogs and they laid some mighty tiny little eggs in the pond and I had visions of little gremlin froggies everywhere.

The taddies are still there and don’t seem to be becoming frogs, though I’m not sure why maybe they like being the peter pan of tadpoles. Anyway….Freddie my first and main frogasaurus hung out quite a bit and I often saw him around sunset cooling himself in the pool or hanging in the bamboo plant – then one day. Nothing. Gone. Didn’t see him anymore.

It was a little sad because I thought he had moved onto bigger and better ponds. Though I did hear some froggy serenades at night, so I suspected he still came by to hang out. But, the other day, I finally dragged myself out to the garden to confront the jungle it had become. It was not a pretty sight folks, what a mess. Lots of hacking and pulling and weeding and pruning going on. When I finally worked my way to the end of the garden I picked up a trampled eggplant plant and guess who was there? Yep, Freddie! But my oh my how he has grown! He’s an absolute monster now, bigger than a pack of cigarettes and beefy too.

I was so happy when I saw him I oo’d and ahh’d and told him how proud of him I was for having grown so big and beastly and then I put him in the pool for a swim while I finished the garden. He even let me pick him up and pose him for some pictures.

Isn’t he gorgeous? Makes me a little teary eyed too because my little frog has grown up. I suspect he’ll find a wife and move to the Wash where the big pond is – though he is a tree frog and we have lots of trees so maybe he’ll stick around.

So, I guess the moral of the story is, that if you want a frog bad enough, you can grow one, eh?

The Ebay Skinny – Guest Post by Darla

Hi, my name is Darla of the Ultra Beauty Boutique blog, which Writer Chick calls “Free’s Beauty Shack. 😉 WC asked me to talk a little bit about my eBay success. So I thought I would start at the root of how it began.

I had just decided to null my contract with a multi-level marketing business I had been in for almost 15 years and I was selling off my prizes, extra products, samples, etc. At that time, I participated in a blog where I talked about how I was getting rid of all my of excess. I didn’t give eBay as a “job” a second thought until someone asked me to sell their stuff for them. I said, SURE and that started my consignment business.

Just so you know I no longer do consignment (for the most part) but will share with you the ins-and-outs of what I learned while doing it (I currently ONLY liquidate products).

1. Have EVERYTHING that you will and will not do in writing.

2. There will always be people who expect you to put their items first even if you tell them upfront you are a month behind.

3. Know EXACTLY what you will and will not take and in what condition (i.e. one of the last consignment jobs I did, I found the items were so filthy with mold and dirt that I had to literally scrape & Lysol wipe them off).

4. There will always be those people who will promise you they won’t try to micromanage you, but they will. Don’t be afraid to give the product right back to them at their expense. You are not their slave.

5. Some people have specific places to drop off consignment items, I chose to have people mail them to me, since many items come from quite a distance (longer than a car ride).

6. Decide upfront who pays the fees and the % or the fee you will charge per item.

7. Keep a detailed spreadsheet for the client, listing all fees, selling price, etc. so there is no question of your honesty. PERIOD.

8. There will always be people who think their items should bring more and want you to “pull” the auction toward the end. Decide early on that this is NOT the way to conduct your business. I would also strongly encourage you to put that in writing (I know it sounds like a no-brainer but trust me there are people out there who will try this trick).

The rules for being a trading assistant on eBay can be found here:

If you have any specific questions or suggestions (I’m sure I forgot something) you can leave me a comment here or e-mail me at darla@werlivingfree.com

(Thanks Darla, for those little tricks and tips – I never knew this stuff.)

It's Raining Books

I love books and can’t get enough of them. I have books everywhere, in baskets, on shelves, under the bed, in the bathroom, livingroom and kitchen and don’t have room for one more – yet, whenever I see a book I want, I get it and worry about storage later. One of the things I love to do with books is to pass them on. Though, I always retain copies of the books I love more than life, typically, when I’ve finished a book, I either give it to a friend, take it to the library used book store or donate it to a church, thrift store or other outlet that can use or wants books. To me, there is no greater gift than a book, they impart knowledge, experience, adventure, entertainment, and introduce whole new worlds to the reader. Seriously, what’s not to love?

Imagine my delight when my friend Curious C over at Idea Jump sent me to Hey Lady, Whatcha Reading to check out this a book give away.

The blog mistress, Trish, had this to say:

Dude, I’m not even kidding. Hachette Book Group USA is doing a Summer Reads Giveaway and wants to give away 14 books. For up to FIVE people. Doing the math…five times four is twenty, carry the two….that’s SEVENTY books they’re willing to part with. And send to you. For free. And all you have to do is comment here. More on your entry possibilities below.

There’s true crime, fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, romance, thrillers…click on the link to the book to get a synopsis.

Naturally, I didn’t even hesitate to put my hand up because, jeez, 14 brand new books, with 1 chance out of 50 is pretty darn good. So if you love books like I love books, get on over there and put your hand up too. It can’t hoit and cripes maybe you’ll win some groovy books.

PS: Happy birthday, dad.

Tips, Tricks & Things You Probably Didn’t Know

(H.T. to my friend Marli – personally, I can’t wait to try some of these. WC)

  • Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick the little “stringy things” off of it. That’s how the primates do it.
  • Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.
  • Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!
  • Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.
  • Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
  • To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.
  • For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints indouble broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.
  • Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.
  • Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simple chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.
  • Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy No soggy micro pizza.
  • Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.
  • When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.
  • To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
  • Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.
  • Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can’t see easily.
  • To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it. (This really works for any leaf chewing varmits – I’ve tried it. WC)
  • To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.
  • Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and — ta da! — static is gone.
  • Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
  • Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!
  • If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.
  • Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It’s also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn’t like when you tried it in your hair.
  • To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass fill it 1/2″ with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid, mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!
  • Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it”home,” can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works & you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!
  • The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink, ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material. I’m sure you know what your dryer’s lint filter looks like. Well,…the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn’t go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that’s what burns out the heating unit. You can’t SEE the film, but it’s there It’s what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free — that nice fragrance too, you know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box, well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire & potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (& to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out & wash it with hot soapy water & an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!

So, there you have it, a tip or trick for everyone. Enjoy! WC

Dance of the Hummingbird

I’m blessed because my backyard has an incredible Mimosa Tree. If you have never seen one in full bloom or smelled the lovely, sweet fragrance of the Mimosa on a summer evening then you have really missed out on a miracle of nature.

The tree is about 20 feet tall and I imagine it’s been there for many years because its branches spread out and cover about a third of the yard. It has a bent and graceful trunk and it is heavy with pink and gold blossoms from early spring to late fall. Like a lithe ballerina it sways with the breeze and even the strongest wind can’t snap it’s resilient branches.

But what makes this tree really special is that it is home to about twenty hummingbirds. They feed and sing and hover from branch to branch, sipping at the sweet nectar the tree offers them. They play and perch and sometimes fight.

On the back porch, we have a hummingbird feeder, just a few feet from the Mimosa and when they tire of the tree, they swoop in for a tall drink of hummingbird kool aid.

They have become quite bold and will buzz and hover around the porch as they tease the viewer (me) into thinking maybe I can get a decent shot. And so I whip out my trusty digital camera in the hopes of getting that very thing.

But no matter what I do, I can never quite get the perfect picture. Usually, it’s in sillouette because the light is behind them and they buzz and hover so fast that you barely have a chance to raise the camera before they are gone.

But sometimes if you are very lucky, you get the chance to catch them standing still.

Still, I long to get the little dude up close and personal and I’ve yet to manage that. No matter though, because my joy is in sitting on the back porch and watching them zip to and fro, doing their own special summer dance of the nectar. To hear their little chirps signaling each other whose turn it is to drink and warning of the big human waving the camera. And laughing at me as I wait patiently for them to appear – all for the chance of catching them in my sights and snapping the picture before they are off again for the safety of the Mimosa.

Digital camera $195, glass of iced tea $1.50, can of bug spray $3.95, catching the humming bird in flight – priceless.

WC

Mystery Melon Theatre

Okay, so I think I have a handle on the type of melon I’m growing now. I’m pretty sure it’s a cantaloupe. In the last couple of days it’s developed netting over the skin and it sure does look like a cantaloupe.

It’s about 3.5 inches in diameter and it’s heavy – can’t really say how much it weighs maybe 2-3 lbs? I post the pictures for your perusal and theories. Wow, isn’t this exciting?

On the second shot you can almost see the second melon – just below and to the left that is also rapidly growing into an adult melon. Cripes, wouldn’t it be funny if it was just a mutant cucumber or something?

I’ve cut the foilage back an awful lot (maybe too much) and I’m a little worried that it will wither and die because I shouldn’t do that but I can’t let it take over the whole garden, so I’m taking my chances. I’ve also trained it to start climbing the bungee cords that are attached to the wall, so maybe I’ll get a sort of lantern effect with little melon globes climbing upwards. Though I don’t know…do melons get traumatized if they can’t lay on the ground and they are swinging from a bungee cord in mid-air instead? Crap I may have to pay for therapy for these puppies.

Again this thing is growing in leaps and bounds, it has just about doubled in size since last week, so it could be a VW Bug by next week. And yeah, I’ve kept the vines away from my window, lest it creep into my bedroom whilst I sleep.

WC

I’ve Been Stumbled…

Recently, I noticed I was getting some enormous  hits on this post. One I did sometime back and actually was a recipe that my buddy Ger had passed on to me, that his sister invented.

I was intrigued by all the hits and discovered that there were some folks at StumbleUpon who have stumbled on to my blog – thanks to that post. How flattered was I? Very. But I really have to give a big Hat Tip to Ger for that – thanks Ger!

 They also seemed to like Really Stupid Shit the original and Really Stupid Shit Part Deux. I have to say food and stupid shit is sure popular.

That I have made it to the StumbleUpon universe and gotten on their radar is really rather exciting and really good for my stats. I wonder too, if that isn’t where some of my new readers/commenters have come from. If so, hey, thanks a bunch and welcome.

Don’t know if they will stick around or not, but I sure hope so. I ordered some extra RAM for my computer so I can download Foxfire and then I add the stumbleupon tool bar. Soon, I’ll be stumbling too.

Well, actually, I’ve sort of stumbled all my life, so this really dovetails nicely. So, to all you stumblers out there, welcome to the party and I hope you enjoy yourself.

Oh and btw, Ger has a hysterical product on his site which you can find here – it is sure to cwack you up.

Keep stumblin’!

WC

More Summer Fun

A friend of mine sent me these unbelievable pictures. Yes folks, people actually made these from salt water and sand. Cripes, I can’t make something this good with clay, glue and step by step directions!

I must say though, I wonder what her hair is supposed to be wrapped around.

Why are old people always yelling at kids?

Rampunzel must be at the top of that thing somewhere.

It takes a lot of sand to make a whole kingdom.

What are these little kids so afraid of?

Ah…I get it, the dragon is eating their dad.

I guess I better get my bucket and internet directions and head for the beach – it’s going to take a while to get the hang of this stuff.

WC