Monthly Archives: January 2012

So I’m Working on a Book…

I’ve been a storyteller for most of my life. Before I could write I drew stories! Now I spend a great deal of my time contemplating stories, writing, and book ideas for several age groups and genres.

So I'm Writing a Book... (Macro of red HB pencil peeking through a book)

Ever since I was a young child I have dreamed about writing a book. At the young age of 7 I started writing my first book on our family computer. It was a story about wild horses living on an island. The horses endured many adventures throughout my story. It was called, “The Rage Pony.”

Unfortunately some time ago that old computer crashed and all of the files were lost. It is sad because I worked on that story for many years as a child. I wish I could go back and re-read what my young mind had written. Anyway, I have always dreamed about being an author.

Recently I decided that I WILL become a published author. Lately I have been writing down concepts and trying to brainstorm new ideas for children’s books. I have lots of ideas and I can’t wait to turn each of them into a new, interesting book for kids!

I have written the text for my first book and am still working on completing the illustrations. For some reason I still can’t decide how I should color the pictures…should I use paint, pastel, colored pencil, or a combination? I just don’t know what would look best.

Maybe you can help! 🙂 The story is about two fish, a big one and a little one. The big fish thinks the little fish is “just some little fish.” Upon hearing that, the little fish demonstrates to the big fish that he is unique and special, not just some little fish! What do you think would work best for coloring an underwater scene? I’m thinking bright, vibrant colors…

There are other books I have started writing as well. When I was a teenager I started many stories but never wrote any endings. I have a hard time with endings, hahah. Although I tried to write many short stories or novellas, I have not successfully finished one yet. Eventually I would like to publish my poems into a collection of poetry. Once I get a few children’s books finished I might be motivated and inspired to publish some of my older works.

Have you ever started writing something with the intention of publishing it one day? What do you prefer to write: stories, articles, essays, or poems?

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Triond Blogging Platform

Hi everyone! I hope you have all had an enjoyable weekend. 🙂

I have been working hard outside with the horses and trying to get the quarantine paddock complete. As I sat down to write today I found myself drawing a blank. Arrgh, it looks like I’m shifting out of writing gear for now…I guess it’s just as well, since I really need to get some things done around here this week.

Usually when I feel writer’s block coming on I head over to Triond and see if any of my old articles offer inspiration. Sometimes it works and I am able to re-visit an older topic, re-blog it onto here, or I just get a new idea altogether. Unfortunately, that did not happen today.

Image representing Triond as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with Triond. Often times I will consistently publish articles for several weeks, then I’ll ignore it for some time. I’m usually drawn back to Triond when I notice my monthly payment with their little note that says, “See you back at Triond.com!” every month.

All in all, I enjoy the opportunity to write on Triond. It’s nice to write educational articles and have a chance to earn royalties on them. Although I don’t make much with Triond right now, I think with time my overall earnings will increase. It may not be a way to make money fast, but it is encouraging!

Have you ever heard of Triond? Would you consider using this blogging platform?

Creators Must Create

There is no question about it–creators must create. It is what we are born to do! Our passion lies in our creations. The ability to take a few materials and turn them into some unique piece of art is what keeps us moving forward. We constantly strive to create newer, better, prettier, shinier, more amazing creations.

Lightning

"Lightning" 2005 Colored Pencil

The need to create new things compels me into action each day. It doesn’t matter that I’ve already drawn hundreds of horse pictures or that I’ve made dozens of pendants. I must continue because it is the act of creating that is so satisfying to me. Knowing that I took a blank piece of paper and made it into art keeps me moving forward.

Such is the same with all creators. We take pride in our completed projects and continue to turn out more and more. It is our weakness and our strength at the same time. Any and all spare time is spent working on the newest masterpiece in progress.

Leo & Aries

"Leo & Aries" 2005 Colored Pencil

Although it has taken me many years to realize this, the ability to create things on a consistent level is a gift all its own. Sure, many people can draw beautifully. But can they do so every day? True creators have a compulsion to work on it everyday…even if they have no more room to store completed works, even if no one buys them, and even if no one else likes them.

Tribute is FOR SALE

"Tribute" 2007? Colored Pencil FOR SALE!

When you find yourself falling into this category, you realize that your creations (whatever they may be), cannot just be a “hobby.” They are your livelihood, the every air you breathe, the blood in your veins, your lifestyle. You must discover a way to make this your career. Passion this strong should never be ignored!

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how it will work. Let your passion guide you and keep doing what you do best–creating. Things will fall into place, others will take notice of your ambition, and you will succeed.

Chase your dreams! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are foolish for doing so. 😉

Family

"Family" 2006 Chalk Pastel

The Dreaded To-Do List

Now that the cold, yucky weather seems to have passed us by for a day, I am ready to go play outside! Unfortunately one beast stands in my way: the dreaded to-do list.

I don’t know how it happens, but suddenly the list has expanded three-fold. I’ve got laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, eBay-ing, blogging, clearing brush, and fencing to work on. These are all major events–don’t even get me started on the small things that must also be done!

English: Someone's carpet is going to have mud...

Image via Wikipedia

Last night when I went to bed the house was somewhat straight. The floors are atrocious after three days of rainy, snowy, muddy yuck…add three huge dogs and five quirky cats into that mix and you get muddy pawprints EVERYWHERE. But other than that things were okay.

SVU Promo

Image via Wikipedia

Blogging is always on the list! Although it doesn’t always top the list, today it does! 🙂 Doing the laundry isn’t too bad because that’s when I get to catch up on my Law & Order SVU recordings. Sweeping and mopping is a chore to say the least, but it doesn’t take a super long time and I like the end result. Of course I also need to work on clearing brush and fencing for the new quarantine paddock. I am hoping to have it complete by the end of this week!

English: eBay Logo

Image via Wikipedia

I think the thing I dread the most is working on my eBay listings. It always takes FOREVER when I have to list a bunch of new items. The second worst thing on the list is doing the dishes…partly because I know we have a dishwasher. It just isn’t installed yet. I love my husband for getting the dishwasher, but I sure to wish he would find the time to set it up for me!

So, if you find yourself wondering what this blogger is doing today, now you know that I am working on that dreaded to-do list. I am happy to complete it because then I will be one step closer to going riding!

What does your to-do list look like? Do you ever dread a certain chore? If so, why? I would love to hear some stories about your least or most favorite to-do list tasks in the comment field!

3 Gift Ideas for Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! Even though it feels like the year just began, January is now practically over. The next holiday is a big one for lovebirds!

I already know who my Valentine is! 😉 What we’re doing for V-day is the question at hand. Usually I try to give a special gift to the lucky guy in my life. That doesn’t mean I go out and spend a crazy amount of cash on him–to me it truly is the thought that counts! Often times I make gifts, buy some special candy, or even arrange a kid-free date for the two of us.

Today I’m going to give you 3 gift ideas for your Valentine. There are plenty of things you can do no matter how much money you have to spend!

1. Buy Jewelry

Yes, of course this tops the list. Every girl loves to get new jewelry for Valentine’s Day! This year I have the perfect idea for new jewelry–the new Heart Collection by SamyStyles. You can get these lovely pieces custom made with your colors for that extra special touch.

Heart Necklace by SamyStyles

Heart Necklace by SamyStyles

Drop Earrings by SamyStyles

Drop Earrings by SamyStyles

My Favorite :)

Heart Necklace by SamyStyles

Earrings by SamyStyles

Drop Earrings by SamyStyles

Another Necklace
Flower Earrings by SamyStyles

Flower Earrings by SamyStyles

Heart Earrings by SamyStyles

Heart Earrings by SamyStyles

Contact SamyStyles on Facebook, visit SamyStyles on Etsy, or send an email to SamyStyles@gmail.com to place your order today!

2. Make (or Buy) Some Truffles

Seriously, who doesn’t love truffles? They are incredibly easy to make and taste delicious! This is the perfect gift for either a guy or a gal! Here’s how to make your own:

Ingredients:

1 8oz package cream cheese

3 cups confectioners sugar

10 oz chocolate (dark chocolate works best)

Optional: additional 12 oz melted chocolate, nuts, oreo cookies, sprinkles, etc

Truffles with nuts and chocolate dusting in de...

Image via Wikipedia

Directions:

Blend cream cheese and confectioners sugar until completely blended. Melt 10 oz of chocolate (you can do this in the mircrowave) and add to the mixture. Mix until completely blended. This is the “ganache” part of the truffle, or what I like to call the creamy deliciousness in the center. 🙂 If desired, you can add a small amount (1 tsp or less) of vanilla, jam, liquor, crushed oreos, or other extracts to flavor the ganache.

Put the ganache in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to let it harden slightly. This makes it a LOT easier to roll into balls. Once it is sufficiently chilled, take the ganache out and roll into 1 inch balls.

At this point you must decide how you want to finish them. If you want to coat them with chocolate, put them in the freezer (on a tray lined with wax paper) prior to dipping in melted chocolate. Alternatively, you can roll the ganache balls in cocoa powder, crushed cookies, sprinkles, nuts, or whatever else you can come up with.

Keep the truffles chilled until you are ready to serve them. They are best when you let them warm to room temperature just prior to eating them. Yum!

Dark Lindor truffle

Image via Wikipedia

If all else fails, you can always pick up a bag of truffles at the grocery store. Lindt truffles are absolutely scrumptious and will be appreciated (and devoured) by your Valentine!

3. I Love You Because…

My final gift idea won’t cost you a thing besides some time. I did this for my husband before we were married and he still thinks it was the best Valentine’s Day gift ever.

First, sit down and write out all of the reasons you love your Valentine. Think of the special little things, quirks, inside jokes, or anything else special to the two of you. Next, cut out a billion little hearts out of paper.

On each paper heart write a little note that starts like this: “I love you because…” and make each one different. When your Valentine isn’t around (the night before Valentine’s Day is best), hide the notes everywhere he or she is likely to find them. For example, you could hide some in the bathroom beside their toothbrush, by the coffee maker, in their favorite cup, in their wallet, in their car, et cetera. All day your Valentine will be finding little reminders of the love you share.

Cover of "I Love You Because..."

Cover of I Love You Because...

So, there you have it! Three awesome gift ideas you can use this Valentine’s Day. 🙂 Please let me know if you decide to use one of these, I would love to hear how it worked out! If you have other suggestions, please share them in the comment field!

Learn About Technology Crimes

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well. We just experienced some wintry weather for the first time this season, so I’ve got extra work to do outside on the farm. In addition to that, I have to build a quarantine paddock for a new horse that will be coming in about 2 weeks! Because of that, I’ll be taking a few days off the blog until things clear up a bit.

If you use your computer on a regular basis (as many of us bloggers do), you might want to take the time to read some articles about technology crime. Believe it or not, there are a lot of ways for black hats, scammers, and others to get into your computer and use it for ill purposes without your knowledge or consent.

Crime Scene TapeHere are a few articles I wrote about technology crimes:

What is Electronic Evidence? –>This interesting article discusses the type of evidence that can be obtained from computers by law enforcement and addresses how fragile said electronic evidence is.

How to Secure a Digital Crime Scene –> Here you will learn the basic steps law enforcement must follow in order to secure a digital crime scene, which can be much different than a typical crime scene.

Privacy in Cyberspace? –> Is your information safe and secure online? Learn the pros and cons of different methods available for heightening security in cyberspace.

Have You Heard of Denial of Service Attacks? –> Did you know that hackers can use your computer as a “zombie” to attack other servers without your knowledge? Learn how they do it and how to protect your computer from them!

Beware of Phishing Scams –>Phishers are getting better and better at scamming innocent people. Don’t be a victim! Learn how to detect phishing scams and how to report them.

Need more to read? Check out some of the articles below! These should keep you busy until my return. 😉 Enjoy!

Reminiscing on My DIY Wedding

Last year in July I married the love of my life. We worked hard together to have the most wonderful, stunning, and amazing wedding we could on a budget. That meant a LOT of things were homemade, hand crafted, and generally DIY.

Today I am going to share some photographs of my wedding. I’m going to focus on things that were handmade. 🙂

Wildflower Altar

We grew the flowers, painted the pots, and set up all the rental chairs. It was stunning!

My husband and I worked so hard creating a beautiful ceremony site. Pictured above is our back yard; I cultivated a wildflower bed around our favorite tree. We put an old wheel barrow in the flower bed and planted lilies and little blue flowers inside.

Wildflowers

A closer view of the wheel barrow full of flowers in the middle of our wildflower bed.

Bouquets

These were the bouquets made the morning of the wedding.

My bridesmaids and I made these bouquets in the morning before the ceremony. We tied them with big blue tulle bows. The flowers came from one of the groomsmen, he had stunning wildflowers growing in his back yard. Although I tried to grow my own flowers for the bouquets, for some reason they didn’t grow very well. We ended up using the wildflowers and a few of them were purchased at the grocery store the day before.

Kid Table

The kid table had treat bags, toys, and activities.

The kids are checking out their special table for the reception. I set it up with crafting supplies, treat bags, and a paddle toy for each child expected to come. It was an inexpensive way to keep them entertained and they loved it!

Favor Table

I bought the supplies to make useful treat bags for the guests and stuffed them myself. I bought little snacks, packets of sunscreen, wet wipes, and other things people might need throughout the day on Minimus.biz. The fans were made on my computer with wedding party information on one side and some kind of game on the other side. I printed them and assembled them myself!

Head Table

All of the tables in the reception area were decorated similarly to the head table.

I collected glass jars for months so I could decorate them for the tables. We put wildflowers in the jars on the wedding day. Each table was decked out with a burlap runner, jar of flowers, flower pot with an herb (basil, thyme, marjoram, etc), and a citronella candle.

Flower Basket and Ring Holder

The flower girl basket and custom horseshoe ring holder

The flower girl basket began as a plain wicker basket I found in the closet and the ring holder started out as a plain old horseshoe. I decorated them with coordinating paint, ribbons, and fabric flowers.

Flower girl and Ring bearer

Evie threw flowers and Annabelle carried the rings

Annabelle and Evie strutted their stuff down the aisle in their handmade dresses (made by my Mom) and cute sun hats. I decorated the plain white hats with blue tulle and white fabric flowers that I made. They were so cute!

Husband and Wife

Us after the ceremony ❤

This picture was taken after the ceremony. I just love love love my dress! It was handmade just for me by a long time friend and mentor, Heather. I have blogged about her sewing custom Western show clothing and her brand “HeatherWear.” All of the boutonnieres and fabric flowers were made by me. I used a white fabric for the flowers and embellished them with blue ribbons and white, fluffly feathers. I also made the hair flowers in a similar fashion, but they were attached to combs.

Cake

Our stunning wedding cake!

Although the cake was made at a bakery, the cake topper was handmade. I also added blue butterflies to the knife set to coordinate with the cake. Those butterflies came from the dollar store! The horseshoe was painted blue, glitter-fied, and embellished with a pretty blue bow. It all came together so nicely!

Us

Us during the ceremony

In this picture you can see Eddie’s boutonniere a little bit. They all turned out awesome! My hair flower is peeking over my messy bun…you can only really see the feather part here. On the wedding day I did my own hair after watching YouTube videos for weeks. I also did my niece’s hair that morning! The jewelry was handmade, but not by me! I found it on Etsy and bought it from an artisan in Ireland.

So many things at my wedding were handmade or crafted. My dress, the kids’ dresses, all of the fabric flowers, decor for the tent, table decorations…it goes on and on. It was a lot of fun making everything and it really made our wedding so much more special and intimate!

Artist at Heart

I’ve been an artist ever since I could hold a crayon. It just seems fitting that I make my living creating art.

Pencils

Graphite Pencils are one of my preferred mediums

I create for a living. It’s my only option right now…and I must say, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

About a year ago I resigned from my position as a mail carrier at the post office. It was kind of forced upon me and I did what I had to do. To this day I am thankful that things happened the way that they did. I wouldn’t be where I am today if things had gone differently!

For the past year I have been creating art and writing exclusively. I did not realize that I could make money doing these things until about 6 months ago…but now I know! 🙂

I consider writing an art. In many ways it is becoming a lost art because people don’t really write like they used to. I try to write every single day, even if it isn’t on here. There is always a poem, melody, story idea, or something in my head that must be written.

Image representing Triond as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I make money writing on Triond (not much, but every little bit helps, right?) and I worked on Elance for about 4 months. It was great while it lasted, but I felt stifled by the writing tasks on Elance. There weren’t very many jobs that gave me creative freedom, which is ultimately why I stopped. Instead I decided to pursue creative writing with my children’s book ideas…and I’m continuing to write on Triond to keep money coming in.

In addition to writing, I also draw, paint, craft, and generally create art. Sewing is my newest hobby and I love it! I’m working on making saddle pads and other things I can either sell on eBay or consign at the tack store. Drawing is more time-consuming than anything else, especially because I lose track of time when I draw.

In the Fall of 2011 I drew an abstract picture of a woman in her wedding dress. She loved the drawing and planned to display it during her wedding reception. Otherwise most of my drawings are done for my own enjoyment.

Practice Sketch

Practice "Wedding Dress" Sketch 2011

When I feel compelled to draw, I let it out. Sometimes I draw for friends and family as gifts or favors. Right now I’m working on my first book’s illustrations. Once they are done I’ll be ready to publish! I’m so excited to see how this whole thing works out. 🙂

So you see, it is possible to survive as an artist. I am no sure how exactly it’s happening, but it is! I guess it helps that I supplement my artistic income with auctions on eBay…

If you had to make a living as an artist, how would you do it?

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How Much Selenium Does Your Horse Need?

Selenium logo

Image via Wikipedia

This question occurred to me this morning as I was getting ready to go out and feed this morning. I know that selenium is a necessary trace mineral and should be part of every horse‘s diet, but how much is too much? Are there symptoms of too much selenium? What happens if my horse isn’t getting the correct amount of it?

Well, I’ve always been the type of gal to find out the answers. 🙂

Here’s why selenium is good for your horse:

  • Aids in proper cell growth and function
  • Improves immune system function
  • Encourages healthy thyroid function
English: "Golden girl" – Horses (unk...

Horses used for breeding may need selenium supplements (Image via Wikipedia)

Your horse should get about 3mg of selenium per day. Ensuring that your horse gets enough selenium can prevent a deficiency that can result in one of two muscle diseases, commonly known as “tying up” and “white muscle disease.”  Selenium can be obtained from hay, grain, pasture, or supplements. However, it is important that the amount of selenium per day does not exceed 3mg.

So now we know why selenium is necessary, especially in horses used for breeding or athletic purposes. But that doesn’t mean we should go and start feeding a supplement right away! Chances are your horse is getting enough selenium from the grain or hay you feed, if not from the pasture itself. It occurs naturally in soil, especially West of the Mississippi River. Also, simply providing a trace mineral block can provide a sufficient amount of selenium. Feeding too much selenium to your horse is toxic and must be avoided.

Signs of selenium toxicity in order of typical occurrence:

Stanleya (plant)

Some plants can accumulate high levels of selenium (Image via Wikipedia)

There are two kinds of selenium toxicity. Acute exposure occurs when a horse ingests a large amount of selenium at once. This may happen if a horse eats a plant that accumulates selenium. Acute exposure symptoms include garlicky breath, muscle tremors, difficultly breathing, and an abnormal gait. Chronic exposure to elevated selenium levels can lead to lameness, blindness, teeth grating, abdominal pain, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.

If you think your horse may be suffering from selenium deficiency or toxicity, call your vet immediately. Only a licensed veterinarian can determine your horses selenium levels and advise you on whether to add or remove selenium from your horse’s diet.

Selenium is a necessary part of your horse’s diet, but it should be carefully monitored. Do you feed a selenium supplement to any of the horses in your herd?

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Horse Lovers Unite at Back on Tack Consignment Horse Tack Boutique

Hello everybody! Today I am going to tell you about a great local store. All horse people love to go to a good tack shop and nose around occasionally. Until recently, the closest tack shop has been quite a drive away into town. It was a chore driving to town just to find that bit, girth, or horse-inspired gift. Not anymore!

Back on Tack LLC

Back on Tack Consignment Horse Tack Boutique

The Back on Tack shop is now open right in our backyard! New to Palmyra and right across from the Post Office, this tack shop is equipped with a plethora of items sure to please any horse lover. You can find tack, bits, bridles, blankets, saddle pads, polo wraps, framed art, and a variety of gift ideas. There is also an area full of books, stuffed animals, DVDs, and other awesome items. You’re sure to find what you need at Back on Tack! If you can’t find something specific, the owner, Diane, will help you find what you are looking for.

Inside Back on Tack

A peek inside Back on Tack

You really need to step into this shop to appreciate it! There are new items cycling through the shop constantly, so it is worth a weekly visit at least! You can find new, gently used, and even handmade items at Back on Tack Consignment Horse Tack Boutique!

The idea behind this shop is novel–why buy new, expensive items when you can find them gently used? Reuse, recycle, and reride with Back on Tack! Plus, a portion of proceeds from this shop is donated to nonprofit equine welfare associations. Not only do you get great deals closer to home, but you can help horses in need with every purchase!

More Back on Tack

More inside Back on Tack

Books at Back on Tack

Books & more at Back on Tack

The shop is open Tuesday – Friday from 12pm – 5 pm and Saturday from 10am – 5pm. Stop by and say hi to Diane while you browse this awesome little tack store!

If you are interested in learning more, check out the website here! 🙂

Back on Tack Sign

Check out Back on Tack next time you're in Palmyra!

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