Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Gramma Travels

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope
                                  -- Maya Angelou

Near Somerset, PA

Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Laural Highlands Hiking Trail

Farm and sky for as far as the eye can see in Northwestern Ohio

The joy of crossing that last state line

Awake and on the road many hours before dawn's first light.  Walked the dog, got gas, and watched the sunrise near Somerset, PA. Drove out of Maryland, the length of both Pennsylvania and Ohio, and most of Indiana, in order to reach my destination of love.

My precious, precious grandbabies. Nothing but love. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Author Dawn Lesley Stewart

I enjoy books. I enjoy reading good books.  It is always a bonus when I find good books in unexpected places.

I found good books, and their author, unexpectedly on a writing site that is described as "macro-blogging" and a "social-ecosystem".  To me, that translates to posts that consist of socializing, blurbs about people's lives and daily living, and opinion pieces.  I don't really read that site to find published books to add to my to-read list.

On that site, I follow the posts of a woman who quilts. I enjoy reading about her quilting activities because it reminds me of my grandmother who was an avid quilter.  I was surprised when I followed the link in her profile to a site that lists her published books. It was exciting to find that I've been trading comments with someone who is published.

Dawn Lesley Stewart has published a children's book and a fantasy novel. I have now read them both.

photo courtesy of Amazon
Harriet's Horrible Hair Day.  This is a tale of Harriet's unruly hair. The adventures that her brother and sister take her on in order to tame the wild curls made me laugh. The vocabulary and sibling dynamics were age appropriate. A child's focus on bothersome hair is something we probably all could tell a story about. I kept waiting for the scissors to come out.  Fortunately, the hair problem came to an end without a pair of shears. The illustrations by Michael P White are imaginative and beautiful. 

photo courtesy of Amazon
Mist-Seer. This is a well-written and fast-moving fantasy novel. Fantasy is not typically my favorite genre as some authors have trouble tying up all of the loose ends in a way that makes sense to me. But this story about Lacee, Tyler, and Maddox rang true to me even though it was fantasy.  Lacee can see into the past via touch.  Tyler has ownership of a tar-tung. And Maddox, he has his own unique set of problems.  

It was unclear what time period the story was set in.  The mode of transportation were wagons drawn by beasts and apprentice stable boys cared for these beasts. I felt as though the story occurred centuries ago. And yet, precious gems and time travel give the story a futuristic flavor.  The author does a great job of creating this world that draws you in so deeply that you don't question it.  I felt as though I've always known what a tar-tung is. And as though I've ridden in a wagon drawn by a willa beast. 

If you are looking for a whimsical children's book or an entertaining fantasy novel for yourself, I recommend these books to you.  Thank you Dawn Lesley Stewart for entertaining me.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Review of McElligot's Pool

"Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish, 
If a fellow is patient, he might get his wish" -- Dr. Seuss
McElligot's Pool photo by Amazon
McElligot’s Pool is a wonderful story that was written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss in 1947. While I love everything I know about Seuss and his books, I especially love this story. The magnificently optimistic Marco takes me with him on his fishing adventure.

The Facts
  • Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1904.
  • Dr. Seuss is his pen name.
  • And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street was his first book published, in 1937
  • A character named Marco appeared in that first book
  • Marco made his second appearance in 1947, in McElligot’s Pool.
  • McElligot’s Pool is dedicated to Theodor’s father “The World’s Greatest Authority on Blackfish, Fiddler Crabs and Deeged Trout.”
McElligot’s Pool was written in 1947 and was the sixth book written and published by Seuss. I learned today that this is the first book that Seuss used watercolors to create the illustrations. Due to concerns about cost, Random House decided to publish the book half in black and white, and half in these watercolor illustrations.
The Feelings
I have always enjoyed this book. Marco sits on the bank of the pond, hopeful, with his fishing pole. I feel warm, comfy, and dreamy when I read the story of the little boy informing the naysayer that there just might be...
I can remember times fishing with my father, at a very early age, hanging my head over the side of the row boat, imagining the things that may be lurking under the surface. At times I imagined fun and fantastical things, other times I imagined things that made me fearful. But I always imagined.
I loved the times my dad let me go with him fishing. It was an interest we shared. And it was the thing that children crave so much, not necessarily the fishing but the time given from an adult.
As an adult, I realize I have learned a few lessons.
I have learned that it is important to give my time to a child. I know that imagination is a beautiful thing, and I attempt to nurture creativity. Finally, and most importantly, I have learned that although it has become more difficult to ignore the naysayers, I should continue to ignore them, because it just might be...

For more Dr. Seuss 

 The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss was published in 1995. It is a short, coffee table book that displays the previously private artwork of Theodor Geisel. At the time of this writing, this book is rated with 5 stars on Amazon and is highly recommended.

Dr Seuss's Beginner Book Collection contains five of my favorite beginning reader books.  I especially look forward to reading Red Fish, Blue Fish and Hop on Pop to my grandson. The other stories included are: Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Fox in Socks

Dr. Seuss books will never lose their appeal. What a great way to spend time with children, creating memories and enjoying the fantastical lands of Seuss.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Days You Wish Would Never End

Wordless Wednesday

Linked to ABRACABADRA for Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Photo by Dawn Rae. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Dawn Rae taken with my Sony a37

Linked to ABRACABADRA for Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Photo by Dawn Rae. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gifts for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

I work with kids at a special education school, grades K to 8th. I am a therapist. Over the years, I have had quite a few experts tell me what to use in my play and work with the kids, especially the children on the autism spectrum. Sometimes the experts are right and sometimes they are wrong.  As usual, it is really more productive to learn from the true experts: the children.

These kids let me know what the most popular toys are in any given year.  I have noticed that the kids on the Autism Spectrum tend to gravitate toward the same items no matter how they differ in their behaviors and symptoms.  While most any child (and some adults) would like these gifts, I thought I would share with you the things that are preferred by the kids on the spectrum. While other items have been trendy and have come and gone, this list has been unchanged for the past two or three years. 

Fuse Beads

When I worked with older children and families, I had never heard of "fuse beads".  I came to this school to work and fuse beads were the singular most popular item. It is a great activity for children and adults to do together.  I allow the child to do all of the building of the item while I gather the colors of beads they will need. And clearly, I do all of the ironing.

Fuse Beads Kit photo by Amazon
If you aren't familiar, as I wasn't, let me summarize briefly.  Fuse beads come in many brands. The name brand is Perler.  I have had not good experiences with the off brands, so I stick with Perler. These little plastic beads are placed on a sort of pegboard.  When the design is what the child wants, wax paper is used to cover the plastic beads while ironing over the item. The plastic beads melt slightly and glue the item together.  You flip the item over, use another wax paper

Required items:  The beads, the pegboard, the wax paper that is usually included, and an iron (not included)

Suggestion play (especially with spectrum kids):  I use paper plates as trays to hold and sort the beads.  I ask the child to pick a sample of the needed colors, we name that color, and put the sample on a plate. I pick the colors out while the child uses what I've gathered to make the item.  I always do the ironing and never let the child touch the item while it is still warm.  This is one activity that can help kids learn to loosen some of their rigid play. For example, if a child initially allows only one color on the plate at a time, the adult can test those limits over time by putting two colors onto the plate at a time, and so on. 

Fuse Bead Complete Kit photo by Amazon 


MineCraft is an online and computer game that all of the children love.  I find that my kids on the spectrum, young and old, gravitate to this game even more so than the other children.  The kids play every chance they get. Some of the older children spend time drawing the animals from the game and many of the children have me look up Fuse bead patterns of the characters and items so they can make them.

If your child already has access to the game, consider purchasing the handbooks.  Even our non-readers happily crack these books open and spend a lot of time "reading".

Required Item:  The game and matching game system or a computer to play the online version.

Suggestion for play:  Take time to let the kids show you what they've built or how far along they are in the game. I especially love the animals.  

Mincraft Game for Xbox 360 photo by Amazon

Minecraft Handbook photo by Amazon


There are many sites that have great lists of the Lego kits for sale. Legos seem to never lose their appeal. My children had Legos and I still secretly hope that children will choose the Legos when they come to my office for therapy.  The imagination can run wild with Legos.  And the blocks can help with fine motor skills, dexterity, frustration tolerance, and other skills.  While the large kits can get quite expensive, there are Legos in every price and age range needed. 

Lego with Minecraft Kits  as seen on Toy and Game World

Lego Planes and Helicopter Kits as seen on Toy Treasures

Inexpensive Lego Kit photo by Amazon
Lego Basics Kit photo by Amazon 

Hoberman Sphere

The Hoberman Sphere is a ball of sorts that starts at 9.5" tall and expands to 30" tall ball.  There are latches that can easily be operated by any of the children on my caseload.  They love opening and closing it, latching it open and crawling through.  I have been concerned about the moving parts and little fingers, but for some reason, no one has gotten pinched. 

Hoberman Sphere photo by Amazon 
Suggested Play:  Latch it open and identify a section. The child locates that opening and crawls into the ball.  Then identify a different section and the child crawls out of that section.  Our ball has different colored sections, so we call out a color.   You could just point at the sections if you can't identify sections by color.  If you are brave enough, let the child call the colors as you crawl in and out.

Hoberman Sphere photo by Amazon

Tents and Tubes

The children at our school, especially the children on the Autism spectrum, love small places to hide or to hang out.  They love tubes and tents.  These tubes and tents are appropriate for indoors and allow the children to have "fort" type of play in their room or playroom.

Suggested Play and Use:  sit outside of the "tent" and read to them while they are inside.  Let them "hide" inside in order to discuss things.  Use the tent as a safe place for them to go for "time out".  

Play Tubes photo by Amazon

Play Tent photo by Amazon

The Best Gift of All

Of course, your time and attention is the best gift you could give any child.  That is both my opinion and the opinion of the experts; the children.

Written by Dawn Rae 
Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Best Gifts for Jeep Lovers

My Jeep on Assateague Island, MD
Is it wrong for a mature lady to love a Jeep as much as I love my Jeep? I really, really love that gorgeous orange machine. 

I love it in Western Maryland at Green Ridge Forest.  I love it on the beach at Assateague Island. Isn't that the best kite holder you've ever seen in your life?  I even love it parked outside of my window at work.

And while I'm typically a fairly modest kind of gal, all I can think about are topless summer days. 

If you know a Jeep lover and are planning to shop for a gift for them this season, I've made you a shopping list to choose from.  I'm sure you'll find something here.

Jeep Wrangler slush mats photo by Amazon
My birthday came soon after I bought my Jeep.  I was given these Jeep slush mats for a birthday gift.  I loved these as a birthday gift.  That was several years ago and these mats show no wear. Yet they catch all of the sand, dirt, mud, slush, and snow that I drag into the Jeep.  These are awesome front floor mats. I highly recommend them.

My newest Jeep accessory is my kayak. Yes, a kayak.  If you are afraid to haul a kayak with your soft top Jeep, you can see my how-to haul your kayak article.  Some folks haul their kayaks sticking out of the back of the Jeep - over the spare tire and back door.  I load my right on top of the Jeep. It isn't difficult at all.

Speed Griip photo by Amazon
Yes! I want a steering wheel cover. We had one on the truck and I definitely want one for the Jeep.  The Amazon reviews show that people are satisfied with this one. And report that it keeps the steering wheel cool.  How many times have you had to gingerly touch that steering wheel after the Jeep has been parked in the sun with the top down?  Besides that, it just looks good.  Maybe I've been a good girl this year and Santa will bring me one. 

There are about 50 more things I could add to this list of gifts for Jeep lovers. And I'm sure you could share about 50 of your favorite Jeep things, but I think I'll end here.  

We sure love our Jeeps, don't we?  Jeep - the best gift of all.

Written by Dawn Rae 
Disclaimer: In affiliation with Zazzle and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Zazzle or Amazon products. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gotta Have It Stock Pot

I just realized tonight that I should share my stock pot recommendation with you.  I love my stock pot and have given them as gifts over the years. But I hadn't realize how excited I am about them until tonight.  I am ridiculously in love with this kitchen item.

IKEA Stock Pot
I am not a talented cook. Let's face it, I'm not very good in the kitchen.  I think that is even more testament of the quality of this pan.  More proof that you should get this pot if you are looking for a good stock pot. If it helps me cook successfully, just imagine what you could do with it.

When I moved to Maryland, I moved to a neighborhood that has an IKEA store. I had never heard of IKEA previously.  If you don't know about it, you really should look it up. If there isn't a store near you, you can order over the internet or through mail order catalogs.

IKEA is a home furnishings store.  I have purchased book cases, chairs, entertainment units, and other small furniture items. I have also brought home a whole host of smaller items such as planters, kitchen utensils, and of course, my beloved stock pans.  I love much of their stuff. Not everything, but a large share of it.

With the stock pans, I had originally purchased two different sizes.  A 5 qt. and a smaller one that was about half that size.  During my last move I either lost or donated the small one. And boy have I regretted that loss.  I miss it dearly.

I have used my stockpots for cooking rice, making stews, baking things in the oven, and so one. They are perfect when making big meals for several people.  I'm not sure why, but I don't tend to burn things as frequently in these stock pans.  I guess it is due to the stainless steel and the thickness of the bottom.  Somehow, it seems to heat more evenly than other pots and pans I've had.  And my rice... perfect every time.  But I wasn't able to make good rice before owning this pan.  There is the tiniest steam vent in the lid, otherwise the lid fits perfectly on the pan.  I guess that's part of why it cooks so well.  I never have to worry about making bad rice when I use my IKEA stock pot.

Why am I thinking about that silly little pan tonight enough to write about it?  Because I have an ex-co-worker that I haven't seen since she changed jobs.  We are meeting at the local IKEA store tomorrow in order to visit and shop.  I am very excited to be scheduled to see her since we haven't done a good job of scheduling visits since her departure.  I am also more excited than I should be that I will be able to replace my smaller stock pot. 

Watch out Trish and IKEA, here I come!  I've missed you both.

Written by Dawn Rae 
Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Blue Star Banner Day

Blue Star Banner Garden Flag on Amazon
As Veteran's Day approaches, I am reminded of all of our family members, friends, and neighbors who have served our country throughout the history of our country  November 11th is Veteran's Day. This date is a Federal holiday in the United States. A day to honor and thank all of our veterans who have served in the armed forces - some of whom are currently deployed to foreign lands.  

In fact, my oldest son is currently deployed. Between my two sons, this is the fourth deployment. Fortunately, the location he's in is much lower risk that the other countries they've been sent to.  For that reason, I am trying to remain relaxed.  As he recently prepared to deploy, I remembered an incident that happened a year or so ago.

I was driving through a neighborhood of single family homes with my friend. The lawns were nice and the homes were cared for.  Not a thing was out of place. It was a lovely day, our windows were down, and we were enjoying the pretty yards, weather, and each other's company. As we drove past a house, my friend began laughing and pointing.  She laughed so hard that if the doors had been off the Jeep, she might have fallen out.

"Look at all that junk" she hooted and laughed.  She couldn't believe it and had never seen such a sight. How in the heck did they get all that crap in there, she continued.

I looked as I circled the cul-de-sac, on the way to my friend's home.  I saw what she was referring to. It was a HUGE amount of stuff. A two car garage stuffed to the gills. The door was open, and I'm not sure how it was able to open because the boxes and things were stacked to the ceiling in most spots. It was astonishing that they had gotten all of that stuff into that garage.

But I saw it as something entirely different.

"They have someone who is deployed" I said softly, nearly a whisper. I don't think she heard me, as I said it mostly to myself.

The ranch house was a neat as a newly polished silver spoon, the yard manicured to perfection.  And in the middle of the huge expanse of picture window hung a blue star banner. 

I didn't see that stuff as crap being hoarded in a garage. I saw that as someone's life, waiting for it's owner to return to resume life in-country.  Because of the blue star banner, I imagined an older couple, waiting for their adult child to return to safety.

I nearly cried then.  I am choked up and becoming teary with the memory as I write this now.  As we drove past that house, I too had a son deployed to some sandy and dangerous land, a long way from home.  I had just learned about the blue star banners in that same year.  I understood the significance of the belongings being stored in the garage.

The blue star banner has a long history. It is a banner that was designed and patented in 1917 by Army Capt. Robert L. Queisser when his sons were deployed.  This banner and it's red border, white field, and blue star in the middle, became the symbol of parents who had children in active military service. One blue star symbolizes one child in service.  A banner can have up to five blue stars to represent five children in active service.  A blue star banner with a gold star represents a child who was killed or who has died.

While my friend saw a neat, but huge, hoarding situation, I saw a family who was likely lovingly storing the belongings of their child until their safe return.

I hope that you too watch for blue star banners and send thoughts of support and safety to these parents and their children.  

And to our beloved Veterans... I thank you.
Thank You For Your Service Military Greeting Card
Thank You For Your Service Military Greeting Card by ForEverProud
Create card designs on Zazzle

**If you are interested in helping a service person by fostering their dog during assignments and deployments, check out my post about a wonderful organization that helps civilians foster dogs so their military owners don't have to relinquish ownership.  No dog should be without a home because it's owner is being deployed.**

Written by Dawn Rae 
Disclaimer: In affiliation with Zazzle and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Zazzle or Amazon products. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Country Dream by Longo

Linked to ABRACABADRA for Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster products. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Willy the Treeing Feist

Let me introduce you to Willy, my Treeing Feist. I love my goofy puppy and he goes with me everywhere I am allowed to take him: local parks, beaches, and for rides in the Jeep.  Everywhere we go, people  tend to stare.  And the conversation goes something like this:

Willy at a local park with a small beach
"Pretty dog, what is it?" they ask after staring for a few moments.

"He's a Treeing Feist."

"A what?"

"A Treeing Feist."

They continue to look at us blankly.  So, I continue, "He's like a Rat Terrier."

The blank look usually continues, so I try to explain a little more.  Depending on their appearance I either say "He's like a Jack Russell" or I say, "He's a squirrel dog."  Urban folks here tend to know what a Jack Russell is and country folks appreciate a good squirrel dog.

At that point, I get a nod and smile and we continue on our merry ways.

I'm not annoyed by the questions or the stares. After all, I had never heard of Treeing Feists until about a year ago.  You see, a year ago we lost our beloved Daisy dog to a sudden illness. Daisy was a rat terrier and I am convinced she was the most amazing dog on the face of the earth.  I loved her so much that when I began content writing, one of my first articles was about Daisy and her dog toy recommendations.

When she passed away, I felt the house was too empty.  I felt too alone. Time passed and I wanted a dog but I couldn't bear to have another rat terrier that reminded me too much of her. I was watching the ads and doing some research. Daisy was a mini Rat Terrier, all of 8 pounds in size.  I started researching what they call Decker Rat Terriers. Which are, overly simplified, large Rat Terriers.  But they still hit too close to home for me.

In my searches, I learned about Treeing Feists.
  • Feists are a type of dog (rather than a particular breed) that are used to hunt rodents
  • Treeing Feists date back to the post-Columbus period in North America
  • Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and William Faulkner refer to Feists in their writing (historically sometimes spelled "foist" or "fyce")
  • Feists hunt above-ground game such as squirrels or raccoons. They track silently until the animal is treed (as opposed to dogs such as terriers and dachshunds that hunt animals that go underground or hounds that bay and bark while on the trail of their game)
  • Treeing Feists rarely kill their prey. Rather, they tree the squirrels and expect their owners to shoot them
  • Feists have been used for bear hunting or flushing flying or large game from the brush 
  • Feists are helpful farm dogs in many ways
  • Feists bond closely with their humans
  • Feists are very protective of their families
It was for these reasons, and because Willy looked me in the eye the entire time he ran gleefully around his yard when I went to look at him, that I decided to bring him home.  

Willy loves going bye-bye.
While less "whippet" in appearance than Type A Rat Terriers (which is what Daisy was) Treeing Feists have  similar build. The Feists I'm familiar with have long legs, weigh only up to 30 pounds, have small heads and pointy noses, and their ears can be erect, button, or slightly hanging. Feist dogs (along with Rat Terriers) can have long or docked tails.  The owner of Willy's parents stated that many of their pups are born with shorter tails.  Willy has a stubby tail.

I live in a urban apartment.  But I am often hiking and camping.  I need a small dog that is a good protector but not yappy.  I need a dog that is good in the woods or at the beach.  Most of all, I need a dog that will transition well to my off-grid land when I'm finally able to move to that mountain homestead I dream of.  While Willy is a bit more vocal than Daisy was (when people are making noise on the stairs or in the parking lot) he perfectly fits the bill as far as the kind of dog we need.

Willy is a high energy dog and needs plenty of exercise and stimulation. Like Daisy, we have to walk him often as well as play games like tug, fetch, and chase at least twice daily. Willy is the type of dog that could get himself into trouble if we didn't keep him busy.

Someday, he'll have a "sister" to play with.  We miss our Daisy desperately and expect that when the time is right, we will again have a Rat Terrier in the house.  Until then, Willy is our four-legged only child.

PAWSit Dog Blog Hop

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hula Hoop Treasures

I remember a time when I was planning a trip home to visit my adult son. Visits in and of themselves are priceless treasures.  Add to the mix a special friend who wouldn't let me say, "I can't" and instead, she taught me that I can.

LIFE cover by Bill Ray
I told her that I had always wanted to hula hoop. But I was never able to learn how. I don't remember being able to hula hoop as a child and I definitely couldn't as a grown up. I thought it was hopeless and I had given up. 

My interest had been sparked again and before that trip home and I had seen some hooping videos of very talented people. I wanted to learn how to do that. 

My dear friend not only insisted that I could do it, but that she could teach me during that quick trip home.

All I needed was a "grown up" hoop, she told me.

I was oh so skeptical.  But she met us at the hotel room with a variety of hoops she had made. That time at the hotel was precious. My clumsy attempts at hooping and my son's natural ability to spin that thing around his waist in both directions. Oh, we laughed and had a wonderful time.

Yes, indeed, I only needed a hula hoop that was larger and weighed more than those tiny things sold at the dollar stores.  I practiced with the hoops she brought and she sent one home with me.  My friend, Heather, has since provided the written directions for a DIY hula hoop.  Because I am a visual and hands-on learner, I found this tutorial with another gal making hoops with the same method. 

Nowadays, hula hooping is just called hooping.  It is popular among children and adults.  It reportedly has many benefits including exercise, core strengthening, and sheer enjoyment. I believe those claims. Especially the claim of elevating mood.

Occasionally, I take my hoop to work. Some skeptics there insist that they won't be able to hoop. Almost always, they can hoop with my big old circle of plastic love. And we laugh and laugh.  It's not as hard to learn as you think.  I am not a hooping teacher but I can give you a few tips.

  • Don't try to use those little toy hoops from the dollar or big box stores
  • Do use a "weighted" or adult sized hoop - there are more expensive exercise hoops at sporting goods stores or you can make your own for a few bucks
  • Make sure you start with one that is tall enough - standing on the floor it should reach your belly button  (mine is a few inches taller than that because I did have such a hard time getting started)
  • Experiment with sizes and widths of hoops
  • Don't give up
  • If you don't have a friend to teach you, use a tutorial online or buy an instructional book with a DVD such as Hooping: A Revolutionary Fitness Program   
  • Figure out which way spins better for you - clockwise or counter clockwise - around your hips. You will have one way that is much more natural than the other direction.
  • Practice - practice often and with your favorite music.

I don't hoop often enough. Now and then I move the chairs out of my teeny living room, I play some good music, and I spin that plastic around my hips. Every time I hoop I feel good afterwards. People swear there is a spiritual and healing quality related to hooping. I've come to believe them.

I imagine the day that I'll be able to do tricks with my hoops, because after all, I know now that I can.

Recommended items:

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tale Review: The Moose Jaw book I

Moose Jaw by Mike Delany 

I just finished reading The Moose Jaw (The Fergus O'Neill Series Book 1) by Mike Delany. I read it in under a week, which is nearly a record for me.  I generally read at night, just before bed, and often fall asleep after reading just one chapter. Or less. It typically takes me far longer than a week to read a book.

Sleep didn't come easily while visiting with Fergus (Gus) in his special cabin in the Alaska bush. I wanted to stay awake and read just one more chapter each evening.

After losing his job on the same day that he learns his wife is having an affair, Gus decides to spend some time alone in order to reflect on his life.  Gus heads for the land he purchased in Alaska and plans on building a hunting cabin while regrouping. Haywood, his Alaskan hunting buddy-that-didn't-sleep-with-his-wife welcomes him with open and protective arms.  They have hunted the area together and Haywood had alerted Gus to this piece of land when it came up for sale.  It turned out to be a good thing that Gus had purchased it.

Or maybe it wasn't a good thing.

The Athabascan elders had previously rejected ownership of this very same land because of Yega. As he is receiving the title to the land, Gus learns that Yega is "an Athabascan word. it means spirit, or something like that... ghost, perhaps." Not very superstitious, Gus has Haywood fly him and his things to this remote land.

Reading about Gus and his cabin building, self-sufficiency, and Alaska bush living was something I enjoyed very much.  Every bit of his hunting and fishing adventures rang true. The visual images of trout, salmon, bears, and other big game danced in my head.  I felt as though I was along for the ride as Haywood lands the little plane at Gus's property. And I feel the solitude as Gus spends his days living and staying out of the way of momma bears and their cubs.

Gus doesn't remain alone for long. He discovers a woman in need. And a bear that seems to be lurking behind every tree.  Morgan, the woman, is near death and Gus nurses her back to health.

Days count down until Haywoods scheduled return and things begin to go eerily wrong.  Haywood arrives and is convinced that his friend has lost a bit of touch with reality from the solitude. Things begin to go really wrong.  It takes their old Alaska State Trooper friend, Hard Case Calis to help put the pieces together for them and explain some things without possible explanation. 

This story is a mixture of rugged outdoor adventure, romance, mystery, with a bit of paranormal thrown in. I typically don't choose romance or paranormal genres but I enjoyed this book very much.  The male character point of view, the mystery, the reality of the hunting, fishing, and cabin building mixed with the unbelievable happenings were balanced in a way that seemed true. Even though maybe some happenings were beyond true or real.

At the writing of this review, Author Mike Delany offers this book on Kindle at .99 cents!  You can't beat a good book for a dollar. 

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

No Dog with a Loving Family Should Have to be Relinquished to the Animal Shelter

As a child, I brought home every stray animal I crossed paths with. I was about 7 years old when I was feeding that big stray cat that came around.  Even when he bit my thumb and hung on for dear life  as I tried to make him let go, and even after the drama of trying to find out whether or not I would need rabies injections, I couldn't be dissuaded.

I continued to bring animals home and add members to our family.

Alaskan Malamute Portrait by Lynn M Stone
As a pre-teen, I found a large, angry Malamute dog in the neighborhood where my friends lived.  He
had clearly been abused or neglected. And would growl and snap at any adults who approached. If you imagine a cross between a junkyard dog and a wolf, you would be close to what he appeared to be.  I begged my mom to let me have him.  Fortunately, my mom was a bit, um, impulsive.  Despite his clear aggression toward adults, she told me that if I could get him into the hatchback of our small Vega station wagon, I could bring him home.  I did and she kept her promise.

As a parent, I'm not sure I would have done the same. I would have given more than a second thought to putting an angry dog in my car and driving miles down the road.  My child in the back of the steel and glass trap with this unknown beast. That scenario could have turned out badly.

I'm glad she was a bit unpredictable like that.  And I'm really glad that he didn't bite my face off as we drove those miles home. King turned out to be the best dog we had for many years and lived his life into old age with us.  He was never aggressive with any of our family members; adult or child but he was the best guard dog a farm family could ask for.

As an adult, I have limited the number of pets in my home. My focus was on raising my children.  I've also lived in limited space with limited finances.  Even so, I daydream about the day that I can continue to give animals in need a loving and safe home.

My children grew up and opened my eyes  to some of the difficulties of life in the armed forces.  I watched as our soldiers gave up their cars, their personal items, and worst of all, their pets, due to relocation and deployments.  The ongoing daydream I had about stray animals began to shift.  I began to dream of the day that I could own a kennel of sorts. A place to keep family pets while their people were deployed.  I kept thinking, "some day, I can do something to help."

Imagine my surprise and excitement when I recently found a way I can help now!  The opportunity comes through an organization called Dogs on Deployment.  I immediately signed up.

People register on the site to "foster" pets in the short term, while the service persons are sent to trainings, have to relocate, or are deployed. Service persons can list their pets that will soon need temporary homes. I won't rehash all of the information on the site, because there is so much information there, But I encourage you to register and have a look around. 

If you need proof that a program like this is important or you think that dogs aren't happy when their family members return, watch this.

I am limited with the size and breed of pets that I can foster due to living in an apartment.  But I have signed up. And I look forward to having a visitor while the owner is deployed.  It is the very least I can do for our service people who don't want to relinquish their pets to the shelters while they are serving our country.

written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Allposters products.

Don't forget to stop by Ruth's PAWSit Blog Hop today for more dog related blog posts!