Content from this blog has moved to www.michellerayburn.com.

1.31.2013

Free Kindle Books from Christian Publishers - January 31

If you've been here before, you know that I link to free Kindle books from Christian publishers when I discover they are available on Amazon. Often there are some that are free on and off. I don't always list those that are back on the free list again, just for the sake of time, and for the sake of readers who already have them. I know that Abingdon Press has several today, that I have featured before. If you go to Amazon and then go to the Kindle books and put Abingdon Press in the search box, then sort by price, lowest to highest all of the free ones will be at the top of the list.

These are new features. Remember, they are free when I post them. They may not be free anymore when you find click this link on my blog. Check it out first to avoid surprises.

Beside Two Rivers: Daughters of the Potomac #2 by Rita Gerlach (Abingdon Press, Oct. 2012)
Cooking With Hot Flashes: And Other Ways to Make Middle Age Profitable by Martha Bolton (Bethany House, 2004)
The Top Ten Leadership Commandments by Hanz Finzel (David C. Cook, 2012)

The Pinterest Project Day 27: Homemade Lotion Bars

I've been using natural skin care and cosmetics for over a year now. I love lotion bars because they are so great for my skin. If you haven't seen a lotion bar before, it looks like a bar of soap, but you rub it on your skin. Some come in something that looks like a deodorant stick, but others come in a little metal tin. I've been selling natural products on a small scale for a direct selling company, but even with my discount, the lotion bars were pricey.

When you use a lotion bar, the warmth of your skin melts off just the right amount of the lotion as you rub the bar on your skin.

So, I decided to see if there were recipes on Pinterest. The site did not disappoint. Since I knew I liked the ones I've been using, I looked for a recipe that used similar ingredients to the once listed on the tin. A post on a site called CoconutOil.com was the best recipe I could find.

I checked my local health foods store for ingredients, but they didn't have everything in stock. So I went to Amazon and found what I needed at a very good price. Since then, I have also discovered a site called Camden Grey Essential Oils that has everything I need, including empty deodorant containers should I decide to make these bars in stick form in the future. The shipping on the site is a bit high, so be aware.

Anyway, here is the recipe I followed, including the slight modification I made by using vitamin E oil that was also almond oil. I shopped carefully based on customer feedback regarding quality of product, including odor. I wanted it to smell good. The organic coconut oil has a pleasant coconut smell. The stuff I find in the grocery store does not, but it is more refined.
Directions: Measure ingredients into a double boiler pan. If you don't have a double boiler, you can use a small stainless steel bowl over a saucepan. My set came with a pan, so I used that.
For utensils, I used a silicone spatula. In a saucepan that fits your double boiler (usually the medium sized pan), boil about 2 inches of water, then turn it down to simmer. Now, set the double boiler on top, making sure that your water is not boiling so vigorously that you get water in your lotion bars. Do not melt in the microwave. I don't know what it does, but the beeswax said not to melt it that way.
Part-way through the melting. It was soon clear.
It took about 5 minutes to melt, maybe 10. You'll have a clear, light amber colored liquid. I used a big plastic serving spoon to fill my molds since there wasn't a pouring spout on my double boiler. I purchased my silicone mold on Amazon. It's sort of like a short muffin tin (like a large sized Reese's Peanut Butter cup). This was the perfect size, since the recipe perfectly filled all 6 cups on the mold. Be sure to use a silicone mold so your bars pop right out.

Wait for the bars to harden for a few hours. The photo below is right after pouring them, so only edges are beginning to set. 
That is not steam on the bottom right corner. The reflection created some sort of hologram on my camera. Hmm...spooky.
One note: The directions said something about melting the ingredients in a covered jar in a pan of boiling water. This is not safe, because of the pressure. It also mentioned a blender or shaking the jar. I found it melted nice and clear, no blending needed, so I'm not sure what that was about.
To give your finished bars as gifts, you can wrap them in cellophane, use Ziploc baggies, or purchase metal tins at your hobby store. A 2.5 inch diameter tin fits my mold size. If you make square or rectangle bars, you can get an Altoid-style tin, or recycle a tin. Also, some of the disposable snack-sized containers in the kitchen supply department would work well.

When I was finished making my bars, I used the hot water in the double boiler to pour over the utensils in the sink, along with some dish soap. The hot water helps get the residue off, and then I ran them through the dishwasher. I didn't want any of the wax or "butters" to gum up the dishwasher.
Total cost for the bars comes to about $1.40 per bar (had to guess because I can make more batches from some of the ingredients I purchased than from others. That's less than 1/4 what I was paying for them.

Ready to try your own? Feel free to blog about it and post a link to your results in the comments below.

The Pinterest Project Score:
Successes - 21
Fails - 4
Neutral - 2

1.30.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 26: Texas Caviar

I was in the mood for some Texas Caviar (also called Cowboy Caviar) for lunch. So, I went to Pinterest to see if there was a new recipe I could try. Uh, there were pages of recipes.
You see, this is the problem with Pinterest. It can be a little overwhelming if you're looking for something simple. 

I browsed a couple of recipes, then decided to go with my standby, the one so easy I can do it without a recipe. And, I thought I would share it with you. Here is how I make it. Mine is vegetarian, but a friend I know puts chicken in hers. Everything is really to taste so adjust amounts as you prefer.

Texas Caviar
  • 1 whole red pepper, diced.
  • 1 whole yellow pepper, diced (may substitute green for the red or yellow peppers)
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 can black beans
  • Chopped green onions, to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup of fat free or light Italian dressing
  • 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 T. lime juice

Mix all of the ingredients and serve as a salad, or serve with tortilla chips. 

Some recipes have corn, tomatoes, and avocado. Again, adjust as you desire. Want to see how mine turned out? 
 Mmm!




The Pinterest Project Day 25: Tips and Tricks for Using Pinterest

Now that I've babbled about Pinterest for 24 days, it might be helpful to offer a little advice about what makes a good "pin." If you haven't connected with the idea of using Pinterest, it might be simply because you're overwhelmed because of how many people don't properly use the site.

Not to sound all snooty, as if I have the proper way to use the site, but let's consider some things.

Q&A About Using Pinterest


Q: So, I opened the site and signed up for an account. Now what?
A: Consider Pinterest as sort of a notebook. Let's say you are looking for ideas on a particular subject and you tear ideas out of magazines and paste them into a notebook or ring binder. It's sort of like that. Your boards should be topical to help you find things later.
 Q: I see a bunch of ideas on the site. What do I do with this page full of pictures?
 A: Each of those little images is really a link to something. They should be a link to a website (we will discuss below) but sometimes, they are a link to a photo. There is a brief description under each image. Sometimes it includes enough info that you don't need to click through to the website. But most of the time, when you click the image, you'll be taken to a website or blog post with details about the project or idea pinned.
Q: Do I really need to follow people?
A: Well, I guess not. But it's a social site, so being social helps. Also, I choose to follow people who pin things I'm more interested in. If I log in and only browse the main page in a category, I'm missing out on posts specific to my tastes. I follow some people I've never met because I love their tastes. This is very different from how I use Facebook and other sites. 
Q: Do I have to follow everything a particular "pinner" posts?
A: No. You can either follow all of his or her boards, or you can choose just specific topics. If someone posts great sewing patterns on one board, but is also into tattoos and piercings, I don't have to receive all of the posts about the latter if I don't wish to. You can always go to that persons page and unfollow the boards you'd rather not follow.

Q: Do I have to have boards?
A: Again, not really. But then you'll miss out on the main point of Pinterest. I can't remember a blessed thing, so I have to have boards to pin the stuff I really like. Otherwise, I have nowhere to file it.
Q: How do I pin something?
 A: You can either see something you like that someone else has pinned on Pinterest and you pin it to your own board. Or, you can install a little shortcut on your internet browser so that you have a button on your toolbar that says "pin it" and you can pin something from the internet to your own board.
Q: Is Pinterest only for women?
A: Nope. There is a lot of stuff on there. I am particular to DIY projects, cooking, crafts and decorating. But there is a ton of other stuff in other categories on there. I consider it a lot like a pictorial search engine.
Did you think of  question I missed? Post comments below and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

Now, for the tips on being a good pinner and posting useful content. I have created my own set of rules that I use. Perhaps you'll find them helpful.

 7 Tips for Pinning Better
  1. Pin only content that goes somewhere. Meaning, I check the link before I repin something. If the link doesn't go to anything but a photo, it isn't helpful. I don't pin unless I have clicked the link and checked it out.
  2. Pin only content that doesn't violate someone's copyright. I'm careful about pinning to Etsy posts. This is because the person is selling the item. It is rude if I pin to it with the sole intent of copying that person's idea. Sort of like when I'm selling something at a craft sale and people are taking pictures and commenting about how they could make it at home.
  3. Pin only to the actual permalink to a blog post. In other words, when I'm on the blog page, I make sure I click on the title of the blog post and then click my "Pin it" shortcut. If you click on the blog's main home page, when someone else clicks your pin a month or two later, it will take them to the blog home page, not to the specific post you pinned.
  4. Change the wording in the description of the pin if the person who posted before me says something that doesn't sound at all like me.I do not say things like, "OMG, I'm dying to try these brownies. They are supercalifragilisticexpialidociously delicious!!!!"
  5. Use keywords in your description. Sometimes, a pin will simply say "cool" in the description. How can anyone find that in a search. A better option would be, "Cool. These look like easy crafts made from recycled bottles." Now, when someone is searching for crafts made with recycled bottles, they find your pin.
  6. Pin your own blog content. Want to get traffic to your blog? Go to your own post and pin it to your boards.   
  7. Use the like button to save ambiguous content. If I find content I like, but it doesn't fit these rules above, I often click "like". This way, I can find it again if I want to, but I'm not intentionally perpetuating the pinning of something that goes nowhere, or violates someone's copyrights.
Have some of your own rules? Please share!

For those pins that go to nothing, Pinterest is a big fail. But for those that are thoughtfully pinned, it's a fantastic site!

1.28.2013

The Pinterest Project, a Little Delay

I'm a couple of days behind in posting one the Pinterest Project. Tax preparation, a weekend away from home, and a writing deadline have all taken priority. I promised to deliver 31 days, so be ready for the final 7 projects coming very soon!

Michelle

1.26.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 24: Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping

One of my husband's favorite desserts is ice cream with Magic Shell. If you haven't every tried it or heard of it, it's that chocolate that hardens on top of your ice cream and is reminiscent of a dipped cone or ice cream bar. Yum! 
Magic Shell also happens to be a bit expensive. So when I saw a recipe on Pinterest that involved only two ingredients, I had to try it. 

Cindy over at the blog Skip to My Lou has the best recipe. 

Here is Cindy's finished product, since I did not take picture of mine. 

Recipe:

1 1/4 Cups Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (measured when solid)

I put mine in a pint sized canning jar and microwave it for up to a minute. I check partway through the minute to see how it is melting. Then stir it all up good and it's ready to use!

If your house is cool, you'll need to zap it for 15 seconds in the microwave before using it each time. This is the same with brand name Magic Shell.

The Pinterest Project Score:
Successes -19
Fails - 4
Neutral - 1

1.23.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 23: Bible Reading App

On day one of The Pinterest Project, I mentioned that I began reading through the Bible this year. This time, I have decided to do it digitally for the first time. I'm using an app that's been pinned all over Pinterest called YouVersion. It's free, and contains many translations of the Bible.

Most versions are available when you have wifi. However, several can also be downloaded to your tablet so you can access it when you are away from internet access. I love the program because I can highlight and take notes. I can also see notes from other people who have made their comments public. I have chosen to keep mine private. I'm still exploring the options, but I highly recommend the app!

I have it set up to send me a daily reminder when I log onto my tablet. On the reading plan I chose, I check off the box next to passage I've finished reading. There are plans that are in chronological order, ones that include an Old Testament and New Testament reading each day, and many others. I choose to go through the OT first and not combine with NT readings.


[Posting this from my tablet and realizing how limited I am in creating posts. Sorry if it doesn't look right on your computer today. I can only paste photos below the text. And I can't make pretty colored text. :-( ]

1.22.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 22: Fixing Chipped Glassware


Less than two weeks ago, I bought a set (2 boxes) of glass tumblers at Ikea. They looked sturdy, and the matched set I bought about a year ago did not stand up to our family's use. The thick glasses with solid bottoms looked like a perfect solution. And the price was great too.

However, when we got home, I saw that one glass in the box was already chipped on the rim. Another chipped on the first trip through the dishwasher. Since the store is two hours away, a return isn't possible. I get over in that area a few times a year. So, I decided to see what Pinterest had to say about chipped glassware. 

Turns out there are a couple of different posts about it. But the most helpful was one from Welcome Home Farm, because all it called for was a nail file. Sounded easy.

It was! In minutes, the sharp edge of the chip was filed to the point where it could be used without injuring someone. The chip is still there, but it's smooth, more like sea glass. I guess I can live with that if it means I don't have to toss two brand new glasses in the trash. 

I tried taking pictures, but getting a picture of a chip on glassware is impossible. Okay, maybe not impossible for some people, but impossible for me. Instead, I will show you a picture of my glasses from Ikea...the photo from their website, which was taken by someone much more capable of producing good photos.
VĂ„NLIG Glass IKEA Stackable; saves space when stored.
That's what they are supposed to look like without chips on the edges. Now, just imagine the chips. At $3.99 for 6 I'd hardly consider it worth trying to take them back right now. Thanks to TJ for blogging about the Pinterest successful solution to cover up Ikea's big fail.

The Pinterest Project Score:
Successes- 17
Fails - 4
Neutrals - 1

The Pinterest Project Day 21: Mailbox Planters

It was 17 degrees below zero here this morning and my bathroom pipes and drain froze. So, it might seem a bit unusual that I'm thinking about flowers and summer container gardening. But I am. I'm dreaming okay? Let a girl dream. Especially if she lives in a frozen tundra.

I saw a post on Pinterest that I knew had to be part of my project, even though I can't carry out the plan. In fact, I wouldn't carry it out, and here's why.

I saw this photo from Flickr on Pinterest.
Cute huh? Here's why I won't do it and why it is forbidden in some places.

Think about what type of insects likes beautiful flowers. Did you say bees? You are correct, oh smart one! Now, imagine being a mail carrier and reaching through bees to deliver mail. Ouch! Ever have a bee get in your car? Yeah. Not fun. 

In some areas, the postal service may leave notes requesting homeowners not plant flowers around the mailbox. Even though I've never received such a notice, I avoid anything heavily flowered. I have sedum and hostas around the mailbox since they are mostly foliage. If you must have something colorful, consider an ornamental metal stake or fake flowers scattered among the greens. 

Let's call this one a Pinterest fail, despite its beauty and let's work to keep our mail carriers safe!

The Pinterest Project Score:
Successes - 16
Fails - 4
Neutral - 1

1.20.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 20: Sabbath Rest

Today, a short Pinterest project post. I was inspired by a pin from a blog called Upside Down Home Schooling on observing the sabbath. Heather mentioned her conviction to observe a day of true rest. 
http://pamelaaugust.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/rest.jpg

Heather included resting from the Internet. That's something I need to consider. In the meantime, I did have a nice day of rest today. Spent the morning at church, the afternoon relaxing with my parents, and the evening relaxing at home. 

Do you have a designated day of rest and worship? Some people observe Saturday as the sabbath and others Sunday. Perhaps yours is different. Do you have particular guidelines you have set for your own sabbath?  See Heather's full post for the guidelines she has set for her day of rest.

Now, back to resting...

1.19.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 19: Getting on a Fitness Track

Some of you may have wondered what I was rearranging furniture for yesterday. A friend is loaning me her treadmill. I actually did some more rearranging today, since it was bigger than I thought, and didn't fit where I planned to put it. 

I'm so desperate to get back on track fitness-wise that I'm not worried that it stands prominently in the living area. If I put it anywhere else, I'm sure to abandon the routine and make excuses: the family room is too cold, no TV signal, no Netflix, yada, yada, yada. At least, in the living room, I have heat, TV, Netflix and I have to walk past it as a big reminder every day.

I moved a chair, and an antique side table, moved another piece to make room for those, moved another, then moved it back. I had a full workout before I even hopped on the treadmill! When I finally had it all in place, I popped over to Pinterest to see if there were any tips on treadmills. Well, after I walked for 20 minutes. 

The morning news has been talking about fitness machines, this being the season of New Year's resolutions and all. One news feature showed people doing their work on treadmills. Pinterest didn't disappoint in providing options. 

For example, this treadmill work station on Hey, Look What I Got! site:
Hmm...something to consider as a writer. Not. I would need a lot of practice to pull that off without crashing of the back. I do, however, have room on the ledge on mine for an iPad, so I could possibly do something. Like watch a movie, or listen to music. Or browse Pinterest!

Blogger Steve Brown built his own treadmill desk: 
Steve says: "Yesterday, I built a contraption that turned my already hideous treadmill into something even more aesthetically questionable: a home office. I am typing this blog post on my MacBook as I walk on the treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour." Read the full post

As I walked on the treadmill, I couldn't help but imagine Jillian Michaels from Biggest Loser screaming at me. Not my kind of workout! However, a post on Pinterest from Fitness Magazine does talk about interval training which is intriguing. Actually, the machine I have has some intervals built in where the treadmill incline and speed will change throughout the workout. A workout can be chosen with the press of a button.

Pinterest has some printable interval workouts. Like these from Fit Fab Cities.
Do you have a treadmill? What kind of workout do you usually do? Walking at a stead pace? Using hand weights? Intervals with speed and incline?

1.18.2013

The Pinterest Project Day 18: Virtual Furniture Rearrangement

I love to rearrange the furniture! I do it often enough to drive my family crazy. After taking down the Christmas tree this month, I decided to make a few changes. And then today, I thought I would make a few additional modifications to make room for a new item. 

As I moved things, I wondered if there was some other way to decide on furniture placement without dragging it into an arrangement only to shuffle it all around again.

A Pinterest post featured a free virtual arranger. I took a few minutes to play with it, and it was kind of fun. You can save your arrangement to come back to it and make changes in the future. 

Check out MyDeco 3-D Room Planner.
You can specify the dimensions of your room, place windows and doors, and add paint and carpet. There are hundreds of choices for furniture and accessories too.

It's also a place to try out new paint colors and flooring. And if you get the itch to rearrange too often, just stop by the site and play a little--do some virtual rearranging.

Fun! 

There are additional sites that allow you to do some virtual decorating. Check out this blog post on 10 Best Free Online Virtual Room Programs and Tools from Freshome Design and Architecture. These sites have fantastic options.


Pinterest Project Score:
Sucesses - 14
Fails - 3
Neutral - 1

1.17.2013

Pinterest Project Day 17: Trash Bag Dispenser

Someday, I will do a Pinterest experiment with project that take more time. But for now, I've been experimenting with short projects. Today, I tried a trash bag dispenser I saw on Pinterest. If you have been following my "project" for all 17 days, by now you know I don't really follow directions. Can you say controlling? 

Anyhoo, I saw the picture of this project and figured I knew how to do it. However, afterwards I discovered that the sample and the directions lead to something a bit more durable. Ahem. Next time, I shall not hurry. But for now, here's the project already [I know, you were wondering if I would ever stop talking]. 

Here is the project from the blog Tatertots and Jello:
These are recycled containers from Lysol wipes, or baby wipes. The instructions show how to cover each in fabric with decoupage glue. The site also gives wonderful detailed instructions on how to roll used shopping bags to put into the dispenser. About 12 bags for each.
 Be sure to check out the full post for all the details.

This is great for  trash bags in the car, under the bathroom sink, at the office, etc. It's pretty, yet functional. Now for my version.

Like I said, I was in a hurry. I just slapped a piece of 6x12 paper on with 2-sided tape (half of a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper). I don't imagine this will hold up to much use, so I recommend the directions above!
I just stuffed my bags in, but as I was doing so, I thought it would be smart to make them connect. With my method, I only got five bags stuffed in there. Next time, I shall follow directions.
Quick and fun.

The Pinterest Project Score:
Successes - 13
Fails - 3
Neutral - 1

The Pinterest Project Day 16: Bottle Cap Upcycles

The Pinterest Project is halfway done! 

For Day 16, I decided to experiment with projects I saw on Pinterest for upcycling plastic bottle lids. The first was a pillbox made out of two lids. I happened to have two Diet Pepsi bottles (the small single serve size).

The original project gives instructions for sawing the lids off 2-Liter bottles. 
I tried it without a hacksaw, and cut it a little higher because the original seems so small that it's hardly useful. However, I quickly saw why they did it that way. At least I'm admitting my aversion to following directions.

With mine, there is no chance of getting a water-tight seal. And, the glue didn't hold. So, I failed big at following directions.
 In the end, I decided that even if I had followed directions, the finished "bottle" really isn't useful, unless I was bringing only a pill or two with me in my purse.

Then, I tried another bottle cap upcycle. One project shows using the bottle tops for a cap for a bag of chocolate chips.
I slipped the bag through the ring and then folded the sides down. Next, I tried screwing the cap on. Tried.
It kept popping off and my attempts at putting it back on just shredded little holes in the bag. 

But, I refused to call it a fail until I tried another bottle lid. I tried a milk jug next. (If I make the photo any bigger, you'll see how I had trouble getting it to focus so close).
The trick to this one is making sure the lid is very clean. I used a scrub brush to get the dried milk out of all the crevices.
This one works! Plus, it's actually big enough to pour the baking chips out of the bag without removing the ring. 

Considering that this project was 50% successful, I'm giving it a neutral on score.

The Pinterest Project Score:
Successes: 12
Fails: 3
Neutrals: 1

1.15.2013

Free Kindle Book: January 15

At the time I posted this, the following books from Christian publishers were free for Kindle. (Check the price in your cart at checkout to be sure they aren't back to full price again now.)
 
Land of My Heart by Tracie Peterson (Bethany House, 2004)
Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons (Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry) by John Dickson (Zondervan, 2012)
Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White by Claudia Mair Burney (David C. Cook, 2010)
Named by God: Overcoming Your Past, Transforming Your Present, Embracing Your Future by Kasey Van Norman (Tyndale, 2012)
The Calling of Emily Evans by Jeannett Oke (Bethany House, 2006)

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails