Marriage Old Fashioned? Just Throw a Kegger!

I have just been told that my marriage of 35 years is old and obsolete! Wow! I was also informed that the marriages “now days” are shorter no longer than 7 to 11 years. I was shocked to say the least. If you are going into this short term then delete the vows “Till death do us part”. I am in my marriage for the long haul. I am growing old with the man I love, my BEST FRIEND.

I recently read and article in CNB News “First-time marriages: probably 20 to 25 percent have ended in divorce on average,”  according to Shaunti Feldhahn in an article written by Paul Strand http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2014/May/Divorce-Shocker-Most-Marriages-Do-Make-It/ . This is much lower than we are led to believe. I have been told it is as high as 50%. So glad to see it is much lower.

So if this relationship you’re in is for the short term then why have the expensive dress, cake flowers, wedding and reception? Just throw a kegger and put up a banner that says “Together until we find someone better”, gifts optional!

No matter what the statistics are and what the naysayers are chanting, I am in my marriage for the long term, say 200 hundred years or more!

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Crock Pot Candy Gifts

I”m still baking and cooking for the upcoming Holidays. I find a lot of joy making yummy gifts for others. The following recipe is one of my favorites as it is SO EASY! Make up a double or triple batch and give to your friends and family. This also makes a great hostess gift!

Crock Pot Candy

32 oz. Pecans (you can also use peanuts, walnuts, almonds)

12 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips

4   oz. German sweet chocolate

32 oz. Dark Chocolate Melts (or white chocolate)

I use all dark chocolate, as this is my favorite!

Place ingredients in a crock pot as listed. DO NOT stir. Cook on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. DO NOT open the lid. After cooked, stir and drop by spoonfuls on a parchment paper or wax paper lined pan..   Allow to harden (I stick mine in the refrigerator to speed this up) Store in a closed container. SHARE as these are addictive and you can eat them all yourself.

These make great Christmas & New Year’s gifts!

Visit Dragon Alley Journals Etsy Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/DragonAlleyJournals

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In the Kitchen with Grandma Jo

I have been baking and cooking for the upcoming Holidays. Nope, definitely not good for the waist line as I do test them all.   This ritual reminds me of my Grandma Jo’s kitchen, always full of fantastic smells and always cookies in her cookie jar. There are times when I feel her in my kitchen shaking her finger at me for taste testing.

My latest culinary creation was “Cranberry-Ginger Chutney”

The ginger gives the cranberries a little kick. Here is a single batch of the yummy goodness. I double the recipe and bottle then freeze (leave room at the top for expansion) so I can have some all year around.

1 bag cranberries

2 cups spiced apple cider

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 tsp grated FRESH ginger (please remember to peel first)

1/2 tsp lemon, lime or orange zest (optional, I use lime)

1/2 tsp salt

In a medium sized pan, boil the cranberries with the apple cider 6 to 7 minutes until you hear the berries popping. Simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes. Then add the brown sugar, ginger, citrus zest and the salt. Let all this goodness simmer for another 20 minutes. Transfer to containers and refrigerate.

If making a large batch, pour the hot liquid (careful not to burn yourself) into canning jars. Invert (set jar on lid) so it will seal correctly. Store again in the refrigerator and give as gifts.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Visit Dragon Alley Journals Etsy Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/DragonAlleyJournals

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No more War

It seems like all my life we, as a country, have been involved in one war or another.

1950-1953 Korean War United States (as part of the United Nations) and South Korea vs. North Korea and Communist China
1960-1975 Vietnam War United States and South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam
1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion United States vs. Cuba
1983 Grenada United States Intervention
1989 US Invasion of Panama United States vs. Panama
1990-1991 Persian Gulf War United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq
1995-1996 Intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina United States as part of NATO acted peacekeepers in former Yugoslavia
2001 Invasion of Afghanistan United States and Coalition Forces vs. the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to fight terrorism.
2003 Invasion of Iraq United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq

http://americanhistory.about.com/library/timelines/bltimelineuswars.htm

As a young girl, living in Ohio, I can remember visiting a shopping mall where we got to tour bomb shelters. You could buy one of several different sizes and put one under your back yard. Not that they would have done any good, but it made our parents feel safer. It terrorized me. How many back yards in the Midwest still have these shelters underground? How many of them have been forgotten.

I remember vividly the Bay of Pigs, I didn’t sleep I was so scared. That was all any adult in my small farming community could talk about.   We even made and rolled bandages, we were preparing for the worst. My cousin was on a Navy blockade ship and I was so afraid I would never see him again. War, conflict, is a social disruption and economic destruction and has a way of instilling fear into your heart and soul.

So why are we still involved in someone else’s war, even though we are not wanted there. Why do we as a nation think we need to be the “World Police”. Why can’t we be the “World Peacemakers”. There has to be a better way.

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Protect your Car – A Year of Living Cheap

You can save yourself hundreds maybe even thousands of dollars every year by making sure you check your car fluids every month to three months, depending on the age of your car.  

Check the motor oil. The oil should probably be checked after the car cools down for an hour.  Pull dip stick out all the way, wipe it off with a paper towel then  reinsert, pull it back out and you can see the level of your oil.  The dip stick has markings on it as to your oil level.  Check your owners manual to see when to add oil and the correct oil to add.

Check the transmission fluid (if you have an automatic transmission). This is usually done with the engine running and fully warmed up, either in Neutral or Park, depending on the make and model. It will be the second of two dip sticks. As with the oil, locate it, pull out  the dip stick , wipe it off with another paper towel (don’t use the same one), push it all the way back in, then pull it out and read the level. Again, look for a level between the two marks on the dipstick.  Always check your car manual to see when to add any fluids.  Never over fill.

Check the brake fluid. Consult your manual for the location, or look around for a plastic reservoir such as one labeled brake fluid. If your reservoir clear or semi clear, you can read the level of fluid right through the plastic. Wipe dirt off the outside, if you need to. ONLY add fluids when your car manual says to add.  NEVER over fill.

Check the coolant.  Your car must be cooled down to do this one.  Most coolant reservoirs are up front near the radiator.  Cars are designed to operate with antifreeze as a coolant, or a mix of 50/50, NOT just water .  On my car it says to add when level is below the minimum level, but all cars are different so, again, check you car manual.

Windshield washer fluid.  This is usually in a clear or semi-clear vessel.  Check the level and add water or washer fluid as needed.  Keep your windshield clean so you can see!

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Being a Small Business Owner

I have found that owning my own business has its ups and downs.  And much like a manic-depressive person the ups are glorious and the downs are debilitating.  Although my Dragon Alley business is not a traditional “brick and mortar”, it still brings in much needed income for my family.

So what do I do when my business is down, I evaluate.  I take a look at my online listings, and make improvements so they can be seen on mobile devices.  I make sure my descriptions are short to the point and clear.  I look at the product that is not moving and put it on sale.  If it isn’t moving, get it out of your store and move on to something that is more appealing to your buyers. Also diversify your product.  If you have one product, what do you do when everyone has bought that one product and no longer needs another?  You find another (or several if you are smart) product that is attractive to your buying audience!

I have also started doing Arts & Craft Shows.  Yes they are a lot of work but the benefits you get from meeting other crafters, that are having the same problems, is a HUGE bonus.  Ask them what they are doing to get out of their slump.  Exchange business cards and create a group that meets at least once a month to brain storm ideas.

I have also started attending seminars and free classes put on by my local Chamber of Commerce.  Yes, the city you live in wants to see Small Businesses succeed.  Small Businesses are the back bone of the economy in any area.

So read, learn and get out there and Support Small Business like yourself!

Here are some of my links.  Stop by and see me!

http://stores.ebay.com/Dragon-Alley-Journals

http://dragonalley.webs.com/

https://twitter.com/DAJournals

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Making Soy Candles – A Year of Living Cheap

Soy Candle Making 

This craft is an easy and inexpensive way to make wonderful gifts.  All you need is:

2 lbs Soy Flakes

2- Four cup glass measuring cups (microwave safe)

Scented essential oils

Wax Candle Color

8 Four ounce jelly jars or 10-12 votive jars

HOT PADS!!!!  Do not touch the measuring cup when taking it out of the microwave with your bare hands.  HOT, HOT!!

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Empty half of the 2 lb bag of soy flakes into each of the glass measuring cups.  Microwave one at a time on high for about 3 minutes.  Add your wax color and microwave one more minute.  If not melted, add 30 seconds at a time.  Mixture must be clear.  Place the measuring cup on a hot pad to protect your counter top.  Remember the hot pads for your hands.

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After you have melted all your wax, let the containers sit for about an 30 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.  Add your essential oil at this point.  I used lavender and peppermint which are my favorite.  I get my oils at my local herb shop, Desert Sage Herbs http://www.desertsageherbs.com/Desert_Sage_Herbs/Welcome.html

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While your soy mixture is cooling down, prep your jars with wicks.  I use wax wicks and not the wood wicks.  This is a personal choice as I have not had any luck with the wood wicks burning.  They usually flare, sizzle and then go out.

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use Tacky Wax to hold my wicks to the bottom of the jar.  Some people use hot glue, but I have had more success with the Tacky Wax (you can also use it to put posters on your wall without ruining your paint with holes!).

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After waiting the 60 minutes your mixture should be looking cloudy and a little slushy.  Now is the time to pour your candles.  Again use care as the glass will still be very warm.  After pouring your candles IF you want to add anything to the candle, now is the time.  I add lavender flowers to my lavender candles.  I sprinkle the flowers on top and use a tooth pick to push them down into the candle.

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Clean up is really easy, just use soap and hot water. 

Let the candles completely cool, then you can move them out of the way.  Wait 24 hours before you add any lids.

The cost for the wax is not too expensive.  I buy mine online and get 10  pounds for $20.00 which includes shipping.  Expect higher prices if you go to a hobby shop.

Go forth and create beautiful gifts for your friends or for yourself!

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Come and visit me on my website at  http://dragonalley.webs.com/

Please leave comments or suggestions on this blog!