Webcams for Armchair Travelers

I've mentioned before that I am a big webcam fan, and I admit that I am an armchair traveler - I love getting to see places and things from around the world!
One of my new favorite webcams is The Niagara Falls Cam on Earth Cam  Oh, my goodness - Niagara Falls is beautiful! What a scene! And when you see it on tv you don't really get a sense of how huge it is but looking at this webcam, you can see the tiny, little cars passing by on the road and get a real perspective of the size of the Falls.
Plus, the webcam has sound so you get to hear the roar of the Falls - right from your comfy chair!

Check it out - Niagara Falls

Lessons of A New Blogger

Since I started blogging, I've learned quite a bit through trial and error. I've even written a couple of posts here on the Drafty Doublewide about it, and over the past few months I have discovered that I actually like the learning process! I've enjoyed learning a bit about affiliates, and SEO, and html, and analytics, etc,  so much that I decided to start a new blog so I can share what I've learned with other new bloggers. I've put  a couple of my "blogging" posts from this site on the new site, and I've already written, and posted, a couple of new ones. And, there will be more!

The new blog is Lessons of A New Blogger

I also will continue to post other things here at the Drafty Doublewide - so I am going to have my hands full!

Monday Motivation

A new week starts and you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Looking at the whole can be discouraging and you start to think, "How will I ever get this all done?!?"

Try breaking up your tasks into smaller increments: work on one task for 15 minutes at the time, answer 3 emails, clean one section of a room, weed one row of the garden....

Your to-do list won't seem so overwhelming and you'll have a feeling of accomplishment when each increment is finished!

Chocolate Covered Bacon!

Try Chocolate Gravy with bacon or sausage on the side for a tasty, less expensive treat!

Chocolate and bacon is the new, trendy treat, but it wasn't too long ago that if someone mentioned having chocolate along with bacon (or sausage!), the response was usually: "Eeeww! Gross! Chocolate and bacon?"
But someone called it "gourmet" and now a local shop sells chocolate covered bacon for $30 for 6 oz. and they can't keep it in stock. Why didn't I think of that?

If you'd like to try an alternative, why not try chocolate gravy over biscuits with a side of bacon or sausage? Chocolate gravy is a tasty dish some Southerners have enjoyed for ages. The sweet, chocolatey gravy, combined with the salty bite of bacon or sausage is a taste bud enticing treat. Eat it for breakfast, or have a dinner splurge.

East Tennessee Chocolate Gravy

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
5Tbsp. flour
dash of salt
2 cups water
1 stick margarine or butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt in a saucepan.
Slowly add 1 cup of the water, stirring until mixed.
Turn on heat to medium and add the other cup of water.
Stir with a spoon, or a whisk, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Stir for one more minute.
Remove the pan from heat, add margarine or butter, and vanilla and stir until the margarine or butter melts.
Serve over warm biscuits with a side of bacon or sausage.

* Have left over chocolate gravy? Use it as a dipping sauce for warm, salty, soft pretzels. Yum!

Just for Fun Photo

You never know what you might discover when you take a drive in the country...

And yes, that is a regular-sized trashcan next to California boy's foot!

The Simple Life and Impatience

Sometimes I yearn for a simple life; a back-to-nature, back-to-the-farm quiet life without the "stuff" and distractions of modern living.
I have fond memories of my grandmother's place: there was a barn for the cows, and chickens ran around the yard. The house was small with just four rooms: an eat-in kitchen, living room, and 2 bedrooms. There was no indoor plumbing; an outhouse stood in the side yard, and water was from a spring. There was no electricity; at night the house was lit with warm light from kerosene lamps.
The setting was beautiful - mornings were foggy, and at night the sound of whippoorwills rang through the narrow valley.
I have often thought of her home, and her simple life existence, even long after she passed away. A place like that and a life like that has always been what I thought of as a simple life - a life I have sometimes yearned for.

But an incident a couple of days ago made me wonder if I'd ever have the patience for that kind of life...

I woke up in the morning really wanting a cup of coffee. My hubby had set up the coffee before he went to work so when I went to the kitchen, all I had to do was hit the "on" switch and wait. And wait.
I walked through the house, stopped and looked out the window at the morning. I went back to the kitchen, and looked at the coffeepot. Not enough brewed to "sneak a cup."
I gave my cat lots of pets, and a couple of kitty treats and went back to look at the coffeepot. And waited. Impatiently.
I decided I might as well fill the bird feeders while the coffee was brewing so I grabbed the bowl, got some seeds, and took a walk outside.
When I came back in I was finally able to "sneak a cup" and start drinking my morning coffee.

I was a little frustrated. I complained amongst myself about the slow coffeepot. And then, I thought about my grandmother's house. If I wanted a cup of coffee there I would've had to stir the fire in the wood cookstove and throw in a couple more pieces of wood. I would've had to get the water bucket, walk to the spring, fill the bucket and walk back.
I then would've had to set up the percolater coffee pot, put it on the woodstove, and wait for the stove to get hot. Finally, I would've had to wait for the coffee to boil!
I laughed. I was so frustrated having to wait 10 minutes for my morning coffee! If I was living the "simple life" I'd yearned for, it could've been an hour!

I still love the idea of the "simple life" but I have to wonder how difficult it would be to get used to the slower pace. We live in a world where it's always "right now, really fast and go-go-go!"
They say that patience is a virtue; I wonder if patience can be re-learned.

Fake Comments, Fake Followers

Lessons of a New Blogger...

I read something tonight that kind of made me sad: some people buy fake comments for their blog. Fake comments are apparently available for a reasonably cheap price and with more "comments" on your blog you can increase your SEO, get "found" by search engines, and look a lot more "popular" than you actually are. And, If you have a "popular" blog, you may get offers to write "sponsored posts" and make money, and be sent things (free!) to review and make more money (and get free stuff!).

Sponsored posts might be cool, and free stuff - well, what can I say? even I like free stuff - but to me, buying comments is deceptive for the real people who read a blog, and for companies who would offer a product for review.

And, just in case your blog isn't "popular" enough with fake blog comments, you can also buy fake Twitter followers. Then you have lots of comments on your blog, and loads of Twitter followers, and boom! - you are a "popular" blogger!

Very sad.

I also have a suspicion that some of the "followers" listed on some peoples blogs aren't real people, either. Often when I read a blog, I check out a few of the profiles of the blogs followers to see if they also have a blog; I figure that if they are reading the same blog as I am then their blog, if they have one, might be interesting to me, too.
Sometimes "followers" are not bloggers, and that is okay. But I, personally, am just surprised that Shakespeare and the Big Bad Wolf would be interested in reading blogs! I can picture Shakespeare tweeting, and the Big Bad Wolf might "follow" Little Red Riding Hood on Twitter, but reading blogs? I don't think so!

I know that not all blogs have fake comments and fake followers - there are some great blogs out there that are fun and/or informative to read, and written by genuine people, but now, as I explore the blogosphere I'm always going to have the question in my mind: "Is this for real?"

Minimalism and 100 things - Not!

I've been reading about minimalism and the latest trendy thing is to only have 100 things. It sounds great. It sounds carefree. It sounds easy to clean! It sounds like it's not for me. Why? Memories take up space.
As you get older you acquire things from people and from experiences. You might have things that belonged to your children and those things remind you of them. You might have furniture you inherited from your parents who have passed away. You could have a collection of coffee mugs or shot glasses that you bought at interesting places you and your significant other visited together over the years. Or you may have a collection of old, vinyl records that you listen to once in a while and everytime you do, you feel 18 all over again.
It's easy to live with only 100 things when you don't have more than 100 meaningful things!

Mug pencil holder - free high resolution photo
Photo courtesy

Monday Motivation

Jesus said that a man's life does not consist of the
abundance of his possessions.
Spend some time today meditating on
what life is really about.

Free photo of sunlight through trees with a creek in background

Doublewide Manufactured Home Review

(Edit - Since someone pointed out that there are upgrades available for Manufactured homes, I am editing this post to state that my doublewide is about 20 years old. New homes may be a lot nicer!)

When I started this post, I was going to go into detail about my experiences with living in a doublewide, but I decided against it. I came to the conclusion that if you go into buying a doublewide manufactured home expecting it to be built like a regular stick-built home, then you will be disappointed.

Some People Love Their Doublewide Manufactured Homes
Some people love their doublewides and just as they come from the factory never have a bit of problem with them.
There are people who treat their doublewide as a project; they buy a doublewide and then eventually change out the wall panels for drywall, install replacement windows, take out the carpeting and install wood flooring. They add decks, and porches, and build on extra rooms. I even read recently about a doublewide that had been transformed into a brick home by the owner.

Some People Hate Their Doublewide Manufactured Homes
There have been complaints about shoddy construction but if you read reviews, in some cases one person will have problems with their home while another with the same brand of home will love the place.

Things to Consider

Drafts And Wall Panels
Doublewides can be drafty. My doublewide is drafty with a draft that seems to come from everywhere and I think the reason is because of the way it is constructed. The interiors of manufactured or mobile homes are usually built using wall panels; I discovered for myself that sometimes the panels are not flush together - there can be gaps between the panels and I think that is where the draft actually originates from. If you notice in most manufactured or mobile homes, there are strips down the walls, and there can also be chair rail molding and crown molding, and these things cover up where the wall panels, and ceiling panels, meet.

There are also staples used in the construction of manufactured or mobile homes. It seems like there should be nails in some places where staples are used, but it may be in order to keep the costs down, and because manufactured homes are built to be lightweight structures.

It can cost a lot to heat a manufactured home. They don't usually have as much insulation as regular stick-built homes, and they are drafty, so many people complain about how much it costs to heat them.

Single pane windows are a pain! They let in too much heat in the summer and too much cold in the winter. And, in my experience, they fog up a lot. If it is warm in the house and cold outside, the windows get fogged up, and they drip. This can lead to rot and mold and that's not good!

The kitchen cabinets look great from the outside, but if you take a closer look you might find that they are not real cabinets. The back is usually a sheet of thin wood-like product, and in our house, some of the lower cabinets don't even have that! If you look inside the lower cabinets, you can see the wall behind them.

Tripping Breakers
Tripping breakers is another problem some owners of manufactured or mobile homes experience. I think maybe the companies that manufacture these homes need to upgrade their wiring because many people have a lot more electric and electronic devices than they used to!

The Back Door
The outswing back door is something that many people eventually have to replace. It's not very sturdy - usually built using an aluminum frame, styrofoam and vinyl sheets. The door at my house did last over 15 years before a big gust of wind ripped it out of my hand and it fell apart.

Flat Roofs
Even when a manufactured home has a sloping roof, many people eventually complain about leaks.

Thinking About Buying A Manufactured Home?
  • Don't expect a manufactured or mobile home to be built like a stick-built home.
  • Take a closer look at the construction of the home you are considering and read reviews.
  • Decide if there are some things you can live with like the kitchen cabinets that aren't real cabinets or single pane windows.
  • Decide if the positives of the home outweigh the negatives. Manufactured homes can look nice, have a great layout, and be a comfortable home at a reasonable price.
Would I buy Another Manufactured Home?
Yes, I would consider it.

Disclaimer: This review is my opinion and from my experience. Opinions and experiences, like manufactured homes, vary! Do your research!

Check out my Manufactured Homes Resources and Info Page

A book of interest if you are looking to buy a manufactured home -

Monday Motivation

There are people in the world who seem to have "everything" and yet, they are miserable.
There are people in the world who seem to have "nothing" and yet, they are content.
Whether one is happy or unhappy in life has a lot to do with attitude.

Blogging For Money

Lessons of A New Blogger

It's So Easy!

It sounds like a great idea when you first read about it - and how easy it is! You start a blog, write posts, put up a few ads and then the money rolls in! At least that's what the "How To Blog For Money" websites will tell you.
The truth is that it's not that easy. Yes, there are a few people who make a lot of money from their blogs, but the majority do not.

Why Not?

People make money from ads. Most of the ads on websites/blogs are "pay per click" or "ppc" which means the blogger doesn't make money unless someone clicks on the ad. How many ads have you clicked lately?

From what I've read, some years ago the ppc thing worked for a lot of people,. The internet was new, people were new at it, and they were click happy; anything that popped up and looked interesting got clicked. Now, people are more picky about what they click, and I, personally, have noticed that many of the ads are the same ads over and over again. I've probably seen the same ad about "language professors hate him" 1000 times! And then there are the creepy ads that follow you around from site to site. I checked out some pants at the Kmart website, and then Kmart pants followed me all over the internet.
Many people online also have what has been termed "ad blindness" - they don't even notice the ads anymore.

I Do Notice Ads

As for me, since I've been blogging, and learned about how the ads work, I have started to notice ads more. A lot of the ads I have seen many times before, but once in a while one really catches my eye - I saw an ad for a vehicle that I liked and the ad was cute - when you moved your mouse over the photo in the ad, the vehicle blinked it's lights at you! Very tempting! (Yes, I can get distracted by shiny things.)
Another ad, which I mentioned here was for boot scrubbers, which I had never heard tell of before!

Affiliate Ads

After the early experiments with ads, some bloggers move on to affiliate ads in an effort to make money; you sign up with a program like the Google Affiliate Network, and once you are approved you search for companies and products to promote. Affiliate marketing is a bit like the modern version of being a door-to-door salesman.
With Affiliate marketing, you put an ad on your blog, promote a product or service and if someone clicks the ad and completes a transaction such as buy something, sign up, print something, etc., then you make a small commission.
There are people who do this and make money from it, but there are others who are not successful. Part of the problem is that you might have an ad for Kohl's on your blog, but if someone wants to buy something online from Kohl's, they will google Kohl's and go to the Kohl's website - not your blog.
If they want coupons, they will go to the site and not the link on your blog.

Affilate marketing can be a lot of work - you have to promote your blog, promote your affiliate products, and try to get your blog/website up into the top of the search results in hopes that someone will visit your blog, click an ad, and complete a transaction.
Doesn't sound as easy as some websites would have you to believe, does it?

Another problem with affiliate marketing is that there is a big hoopla going on about internet taxes and some companies have already dropped their affiliates based out of states that collect, or want to collect, taxes on internet purchases. One day you're promoting cool products on your blog, the next day it's the proverbial up the creek without a paddle.

Making Money From Blogging...

is not that easy. While there are a few "successful" bloggers, most are not. I suspect that many of the financially successful bloggers make their money by telling other people how to make money online!

More Lessons From A New Blogger:

The Allure of Checking Stats

Buttons, Blinkies, and Blankies

Keywords and Search Results

Update - If you like this post, visit my new blog - Lessons of A New Blogger

Web Cam for Cat Lovers

I am a big web cam fan and one of my favorites is the Friends of Felines Rescue Center 24/7 Kitty Cam
I watch the cam, my hubby watches the cam - even our cat watches the webcam! Our kitty loves to climb up next to us and see what's going on with the cool cats at the Friends of Felines Rescue Center.
The center is a volunteer run, no kill, cage free facility and no cages means running, playing, romping cats and kittens! It is addictive to watch them!

At around 6:30pm ET on most evenings the lady who runs the center gives updates on some of the cats, and opens boxes of supplies and goodies that have been sent to the center by friends and fans.
But if you happen to be up at about 4:30am ET, check out the madness and mayhem of breakfast time for the kitties. The lady who runs the center will try to hold off the swarm of cats with an appetizer of sardines, but the kittens move in closer and the meowing kitten chorus begins. It is really fun to watch and listen to!

If you are a cat lover, or know someone who is, check out the Friends of Felines Rescue Center 24/7 Kitty Cam

(photo source)

Update 11/15/12 - you might also enjoy - Another Webcam for Cat Lovers

Bad Cake Day

Note To self: Next time don't experiment with new recipes on your hubby's birthday.
Note to self: Toss that new recipe - the cake didn't rise.
Note to self: Yes, yellow cakes can turn out tasting like cornbread.
Note to self: Don't experiment with frosting recipes on your hubby's birthday.
Note to self: Peanut butter and cream cheese mixed together doesn't taste as good as it looks.
Note to self: If you are going to make frosting containing something fluffy like powdered sugar, use a deeper bowl.
Note to self: An ugly cake cannot be hidden by bad peanut butter cream cheese frosting.
Note to self: Make sure when you bake a cake for a birthday that you have extra ingredients just in case you feel the need to toss the first cake and bake a different one.
Note to self: You owe hubby a new cake.
Note to self: Next year on hubby's birthday, buy boxed cake mix and frosting in a tub.