Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Social Media Button Madness

I know what you are thinking…WOW! Look at the new Social Media buttons M. K. has added to her blog! Okay, that’s probably not what you are thinking but if you had any idea how long it has taken me to figure out how to add them, you would at least notice them. Hahaha! As I have previously mentioned, my computer skills peaked at the time of the floppy disk. I am learning through trial and error, admittedly, there are more errors than successes. I am determined to build and maintain my blog without asking anyone (my kids) to come over and do something for me. It’s a matter of pride and the need to overcome my fear of technology. When I first decided to start a blog, I looked at all different kinds of blog pages. There are fancy, cutesy, high-tech, bookish, themed, and funny ones. The thing in common with almost every single one of them was the Social Media Icons. They all had them and they were really cool looking. Thus began my quest for the ultimate icon. If you haven’t ever looked into the vast collections, take it from me, the selection is staggering. You can choose from plain buttons to coffee cups and anything else you can imagine. I spent several days just perusing through my choices. I finally decided on a free set and followed the instructions to download them. Easy as pie, right? So it seemed until I couldn’t find where they downloaded. Yes, that’s right…I lost my free icons. Defeated, I gave up for the day.
After a good night’s sleep and several cups of coffee, I was ready to go in search of my new elusive free icons. I found them and discovered they were in a zip file. Uh-oh! Well, I may be overcoming my fear of technology but I haven’t actually succeeded so no, I wasn’t doing a zip file yet. I just deleted that little booger and searched some more. This led me to good old Google “how to” with every combination of installing Social Media buttons/icons I could think of to learn. Some made the process sound simple so off I go on my search for another set of buttons. This process of going between button search and Google instructions went on for several weeks. I did have other things going on so it’s not like I actually devoted days on end to the task. I’m still getting everything pulled together for the launch of my second book “Showstoppers,” working to improve my blog, while trying to gain followers, as well as everyday life things.
Finally, I decided that this was the week. I was going to figure out how to replace my tiny generic icons. I found a person’s site and it looked promising. As usual, he started out reassuring me I could do this in a few easy steps. Three steps later, and he wanted me to start replacing codes. The part of my brain that should comprehend the knowledge began receiving “white noise.” The snarky part of my brain was saying something about all of the brain cells I so frivolously fried in my youth and how helpful they would be now. The logical part of my brain just told me to click off the page and go get more coffee. I’m a very logical person. After a couple of cups of coffee, I returned determined to win this battle. I can’t tell you what I did that was different from the hundreds of other times I typed “How to” in the search bar but the Google Gods smiled down on me. I discovered Pam’s DIY Design Fanatic Blog http://www.diydesignfanatic.com/2013/08/how-to-add-social-media-buttons-to-your.html and she had obviously experienced the same problems as I had. Bless her heart and I thank her so much! She posted a video from Emily at Blogoholic Designs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4hI5WmqpBw/. Emily makes the process so simple it is amazing! I don’t know either of these women but I am forever in their debt! I wish that I had found them a month ago. If you are in a similar situation, I hope that this blog can help pay it forward! I’m sure that as with all new things, I will be changing these icons until I find the perfect ones but before you leave, go ahead, and click on one of my buttons, they really work!

**Recipe of the Day**

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
***Makes 2 loaves***


3/4 c. butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
1 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8x4 inch loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary. (I found that after one hour, my banana bread wasn't cooked completely through. I ended up baking it for an extra 10-15 minutes.) Cool bread in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.
Source: Southern Living magazine

Pet Health Tips
Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in an ongoing, mysterious outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said Tuesday.
Most of the cases have been in dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes — although 10 cats have been sickened, too — after eating chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The pace of the reported illnesses appears to have slowed, but federal Food and Drug Administration officials are now seeking extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in solving the ongoing puzzle. “To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses,” Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the new report. “Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs.”
The new numbers are up from some 500 deaths and 3,200 illnesses tallied in January, but the rate of reports has fallen sharply since then, mostly because two of the largest sellers of pet jerky treats announced recalls tied to the presence of unapproved antibiotic residue detected in the products.
FDA officials don’t think that antibiotic residue is the big problem that has stumped the agency since 2007, when pet owners started reporting their animals were suffering gastrointestinal and kidney problems after eating the popular jerky treats. Instead, it’s likely that the recall of Nestle Purina PetCare Co.’s Waggin Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats, plus Del Monte Corp.’s Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats simply resulted in fewer treats being available. Three other smaller retailers also recalled the treats because of the problem.
In fact, FDA officials remain as uncertain as ever about the source of the problem that has led to reports of illnesses and warnings about the possibility of Fanconi syndrome and other kidney problems in animals that ate jerky treats. “We still are extensively testing treats for a number of things,” Hartogensis told NBC News. “We do seem to be getting some leads, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go.”
Kendal Harr, a veterinary clinical pathologist who has been tracking the problem, says that the specific compound responsible for the illnesses continues to elude experts.
"I think that what it tells us is that the intoxicant is something that we're not used to dealing with as a toxin in North America," she said.
Now, in an open letter to US veterinarians, FDA officials are asking the vets to track and send detailed information about any animals sickened by jerky treats, including results of blood and urine tests. In addition, the agency is asking vets to send urine samples from suspect pets for analysis.
“This testing will allow FDA to get a better idea of how many of the suspected cases involve Fanconi syndrome, whether or not the pets display symptoms of kidney or urinary disease,” the report said.
About 60 percent of reports cite gastrointestinal illness in the animals, and about 30 percent flag kidney or urinary troubles, the report said. About 135 cases of Fanconi syndrome, a specific kind of kidney disease, have been reported.
At the same time that they’re seeking help from vets, FDA officials are putting out a fact sheet for owners that can be posted at veterinary hospitals, pet supply stores and other sites.
The agency has repeatedly cautioned that the treats are not necessary for a balanced diet, but the warnings stop short of a recall, Hartogensis said. The agency is still validating tests to detect the same kind of antibiotic residue that New York officials found earlier this year.
“If we do find an adulterated product, we will recall them,” Hartogensis said. “In terms of doing a blanket recall, at this point we don’t have enough evidence to do a blanket recall within the authority that we have.”
Because there's no formal recall, it's not possible to list affected brands, although a previous FDA analysis indicated that three of the top-selling brands of jerky treats sold in the U.S. were mentioned in connection with pet illnesses.
That doesn't sit well with pet owners like Robin Pierre of Pine Bush, N.Y., who contends that Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death in 2011 of her previously healthy 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure. She has long called for FDA to crack down on treat makers — and manufacturers.
"I am disgusted that our government continues to protect corporate American and China," she told NBC News. "They need to start protecting the American consumer so that this does not happen again. As soon as a product is in doubt, a warning label should be placed at the point of sale so that consumers can make an educated choice."
If a pet does become ill after eating the treats, FDA is asking owners to provide detailed information — up to and including results of a necropsy to test an animal’s tissues after death.
In the meantime, officials are trying to reach pet owners who might still have treats on hand to make sure they know about the potential problems.
“Right now, the focus for us is to make the public aware that these cases are still coming in,” she said.
Pet owners can report problems with jerky treats at the FDA's consumer safety portal.

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