Sunday, April 27, 2008

Unexpected Turns

The days seem so unpredictable lately. It is the kind of time you go through sometimes where you look forward to more normal times or normal days. Like when you are sick in the winter and look forward to the warmth of summer because somehow the warmth of the sun and breezes is comforting. Thankfully we are not going through anything hard right now, other than what we've been going through since last summer which now is just more a way of life. (Don't mind the vagueness of that statement, or wonder over it...it's just not something I ever shared fully on my blog.)

I have been so frustrated with myself over recent months, even years, that I don't make time to read. I love to read. But I have been so out of the habit. It's one of the things I so want to change. I started reading this book last end of summer, and little by little I am almost finished with it. I have mentioned it here before, but wanted to mention it again as now that I am almost finished I can SO recommend this book. It has amazed me time and again. Though what amazes me more, with a sense of wonder/awe, is how God has blessed me with this book, spoken directly to me through it. I will share something that is a little hard for me to share, but I think and hope, as women you will understand. We deal with so many things, being a wife, a mother, trying to be a good and attentive friend which I fail at so often, and wearing so many other hats, juggling it all while sometimes battling hormones through it all. It might be no secret that I feel like a fish out of water where I live, still after over 20 years feel rather anonymous and out of place. We live smack dab in the middle of where Jack has lived his whole life, so he and I, while sweethearts, sometimes, well, usually, cannot relate to each other. It makes me less than desirable at times, and hormonally I struggle a lot. To get to the point, we were sitting on the couch the other night, he was watching something sporty and I was reading this book. I had just told him that one of the reasons I loved the book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark, was because every time I would read it, I would read something that said something profound to me that I was experiencing then, not recently, that very day or days. Every single time! Well, before the little conversation had finished, I had brought up some things, some little irritants that I wished were different, etc. etc. etc. We both sighed as it was not anything overly different than any other time or anything we really intended to finish talking about at that time. He headed up to bed, I planned to follow minutes later, and I read this:
"Rest where you are — Paul's example of how to chart a course through thorns suggests that we rest in our weakness. Until we settle into the position where we've been placed by His grace, we'll never see His strength made perfect there. And we'll never experience the journey as we follow Him. Yet instead of resting where God has placed us, lots of us resist. We do this by heaping guilt on others who don't seem to have it as bad, or perhaps by subjecting others to a litany of complaints. Such behavior is a red flag signaling that we're resisting."
Well, needless to say, I went up and read it to him. And we smiled. So, again, I heartily recommend this book. She is a wonderful author.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shoulder Bag Patterns

shoulderbag I love the simple, casual look of this Reversible Shoulder Bag pattern from Beth at Lula Louise.  You'll find complete pattern and sewing instructions.  The pattern can be scaled down to make a fun little bag with a shorter shoulder strap.  She also has compiled a list of free patterns for knitted market bags.

Here is another shoulder bag tutorial from tiny happy.  The Lindie Bag from Craft Apple.  Cheap & Easy Fabric Grocery Bags from Wisdom of the Moon.  And a whole page full of pattern links at Henrietta's Handbags & Purse Patterns which makes me listing more links kind of silly.  Wink

Friday, April 25, 2008

Windows Live Writer - In Detail

Windows Live Writer is a blog publishing tool. It does not take the place of blogging programs like Blogger or WordPress, it enhances your blogging experience by making posting to your blog fun, fast, and easy.

WLWdetail Windows Live Writer: If you click on this thumbnail, you'll see better what the application looks like once you've installed and begun to use it. There is a horizontal toolbar full of functions (which you can see below) and also a vertical sidebar which shows your Drafts, Recently Posted, and a list of Inserts which enhance the ease and writing of your posts.


WLW toolbar

Adding Weblog Account

Adding your blog: Once WLW is installed, you will have to integrate your existing blog with WLW by clicking on WLWdetaile and then Add Weblog Account and clicking through the various stages. If you have more than one blog, you will do this each time you want to add a blog.

 

WLWdetaild Update Style: In the WLWdetailj tab you can choose Web Preview so that you will be able to see what your post will look like when it is published online. If you want to be able to do this, you will need to update the visual style of your blog as shown at the left. This is where WLW downloads all the pretty parts of your blog. In the course of updating, allow it to post a temporary post which will be deleted automatically. It is possible the post won't be deleted automatically. In that case, you will be notified and it is a WLWwebpreviewsimple matter of deleting the post manually. If this process does not seem to work and you get an error message that states that the style template used for editing your weblog posts could not be downloaded check this help/FAQ page. One common reason could be that you are posting to a blog you have chosen to keep private. When using Blogger, if you change permissions for a moment to be viewed by anybody, update your weblog style, and then change the permissions back, that may be all that is stopping the update download.

Writing posts: If you do post to more than one blog, choose the blog you want to compose your post in from the WLWdetaile button where all your blogs are listed. Generally, I like that the style of my blog is integrated so I don't have to choose the font or font size unless there is a visual reason. This makes everything look unified on your blog and incidentally was what drew me to WLW in the first place. Pre-Blogger and pre-Broadband, I was in the habit of composing my posts in Notepad. When I began to use Blogger I would copy and paste my Notepad post into the Blogger Post Editor (the wysiwyg editor), but the published result was frequently not pleasing from a formatting standpoint. Conversely, publishing through WLW yields a very polished result. In the WLWdetailk tab, WLW allows for font size and color choices as well as text and photo alignment. And if you are anal retentive (a person deemed to be overly obsessed with minor details) in this area as I am Smile, you can tweak things more fully in HTML mode from the WLWdetailj tab.

Saving posts: One of the best things about WLW is that you can save your post as a Local Draft which just keeps it safely tucked away for further writing at a later time. You can find it easily in the right hand sidebar under Drafts or from the WLWdetailg button in the toolbar which houses all your Drafts and Recently Posted posts from all of your blogs. You can also save it as a draft online: Post Draft to Weblog. This might come in handy if you are working on a different computer later on and want to finish a post. This would mean that you had WLW installed on that computer as well as having your blog account added. Click on WLWdetailg , choose the post, and WLW will call up your post from your Weblog online.

Inserting links Inserting links: There is an additional plugin for this, but I have not tried it as inserting links seems pretty quick and straightforward already. One really nice thing is the Glossary Entry you'll find when you click on the WLWdetailg button. You can choose links you use frequently so they can be inserted with one click rather than always typing or pasting the URL. Links are added beforehand by clicking on the WLWdetaili button and then Options... where you will find the Link Glossary. Here you can add, edit, or delete URLs.

WLWdetaill Inserting images: There are really quite a lot of settings you can fiddle with when inserting an image so I think I might make a separate post about that.

WLWdetailmYou have the option, when clicking on the Insert Picture button, to insert an image from your computer or a "Picture From Web." In the sidebar to the right you have Layout choices which include settings for alignment and margins. You can also choose to have a drop shadow or Photopaper which gives your photo the white-bordered Polaroid look. You'll also be able to link the photo, of course, and this is where you can choose the size you would like to display in your post while linking to either a URL or the source picture which can be the original size or various other sizes as well. There are other photo effects such as black and white, sepia tone, and rotation.

WLW Insert detailsInsert features: Here you can see all the features you are able to insert, along with some plug-ins I've added. Instead of Insert Tags, for Blogger you can add "labels" at the bottom of the WLW window. To see what I mean, click on the first thumbnail of this post and look at the drop down area in the lower left bottom corner. Insert a smiley is the Smiley Plugin 2.0. Because I always use the smiley plugin, I don't find myself using the Insert Spaces Emoticon anymore but you might like to check it out. Insert Symbol Plugin is useful for adding symbols like the degree sign which I use a lot because I am forever blogging about the weather. And Insert Polaroid Picture is another plug-in. That might seem redundant as there is already the Polaroid feature as one of the borders, but this is necessary if you want to "tilt" your photos. Great plug-in! Click on Add a Plug-in... for more.

When you are done with your post, simply hit the WLWdetailp button.

Thumbs-upOne more tip: if you do use more than one computer for blogging, you can find your draft posts in C:\Documents and Settings\Select Owner\My Documents\My Weblog Posts. In that location, look in the Drafts Folder and locate your draft post. Save it to a flash drive. When you transfer it to the other computer, put it into the Drafts Folder on that computer in the same location. When you open up WLW, click on the WLWdetailg button and you should see your post in there in Drafts.

StarHow-to back up your blog posts: You can also save all the posts in the Recent Posts folder (from the above location) to have a record or a back up of your blog posts. You will have to have WLW to open them though. I think. Wink

I hope this post gives you a great idea of what's in store for you should you decide to give Windows Live Writer a try!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Easy Hot Peach Tea

Teatime TreasuresOrdinarily I would share this recipe in the wintertime, but it is ironic how many times you get sick just when it finally decides to become spring.  There has been varying degrees of sickness here for over a week now, with the kids suffering Sad the worst of it.   So I'm sharing a recipe they love and which makes sore throats happy.  Grin


I've changed the amounts a bit - my changes in ( ).

Above the recipe it says: This quick tea mix is an inviting cup of warmth on a cold day.  You might even call it comfort in a cup!

Easy Hot Peach Tea

1 ½ cup sugar (1 cup)
½ cup orange breakfast drink mix
½ cup instant tea (¼ cup instant tea)
4 packages peach Jell-O (2 packages - I like the Wal-mart brand)
or raspberry Jell-O if you prefer
1 large package pre-sweetened lemonade ( 1/3 cup)

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container.
Mix 3 to 4 teaspoons per cup of hot water for a flavorful tea. The
dry mixture makes a wonderful Christmas gift.  Attach the recipe to
the jar with a festive ribbon.

Smiley Plugin 2.0 Is Available

Rahul Soni's blog

Have you tried the smiley plugin for Windows Live Writer?  It makes adding smileys or other tiny graphics to your blog entries so quick and easy.  This is by far my favorite plugin.

The fabulous part of this little plugin is that you can add custom smileys, your favorites, or delete the ones that you know you'll never use.  Though I wish I could rename the tabs so that I could use one for say, weather icons, or mood icons, it is a wonderfully functioning plugin.  Here are two great places for mini smileys and icons.  Free Icons Web and Free Icons Download.  Have fun and go crazy! Crazy

Out Riding Again

We have gone out on the four-wheeler a couple of times, but the woods is still flooded so we have only ridden down to the river and along the fields.  Still it has been wonderful to get out.  This first picture is where we ride down into the woods.

flooding08a

flooding08c

flooding08b

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How-To With Blogger #1

When I first used Blogger some time ago, I liked the ease of dragging the page elements in the edit layout, but I didn't realize you could do anything beyond that. I thought it was limited to "what you see is what you get." It's amazing how wrong that assumption was! Over time and with the ease of searching through blogger tip blogs, we now have a wealth of help in tweaking our blogs and making them almost all we hoped for them to be. I am really thankful for these people who not only figure these things out but share their information. It's easy for you to search out something specific on your own, but some things I hadn't even thought of trying to find, like this one:

How to get rid of the "showing posts with label . . ." message box.

I have always wished I could do away with the little boxed message that occurs above a post when you click on a label. You know, this one:

If you click on Archives up at the top of this blog, all posts show up but without the above message box. I wanted to be able to have it this way on my other blogs, so I typed "showing posts with label" into Google today and found this site: The Real Blogger Status. Happily, I now know how to get rid of the message. Not only that, it was very easy.

How to add a horizontal bar of navigational links to your blog

Unless your template provides for this already, this is a nice element to add to your blog if for no other reason than to free up sidebar space. I found this tweak at Split Decisionz and it was also very easy. It simply involves editing your template to give you page elements in the Layout where there were none before and then adding links HTML style to the new page element.

* Additional note: At first I didn't think it would work for me. My links ended up showing up at the top inside the header graphic instead of below it. But I realized this was because of my blog header. When I installed and edited my template (for another blog), I had typed my blog header graphic into my template manually instead of inserting it into the page element for the header as usual. So this tweak wasn't recognizing that there was a blog header graphic. I used her instruction to add a page element to the "content-wrapper" instead which is beneath the block of text she refers to. If this should also be the case for you, find the block of text in the box below where you will just change the showaddelement from no to yes (in red). This adds a page element below the header area but above the rest of the blog. Incidentally, you could use this area for something other than navigational links.

<div id='content-wrapper'>

<div id='crosscol-wrapper' style='text-align:center'>
<b:section class='crosscol' id='crosscol' showaddelement='yes'/>
</div>

How to remove the border around the graphics in your posts

I was just going to mention briefly how to do this, but Split Decisionz has a very nicely written up instruction for removing this annoying little border or how to use this border to your advantage if you'd like by changing the way it looks or making it a different color, etc.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tundra Swans

One of the highlights of springtime is when the swans pass through.  They are very beautiful, and their sound, while very familiar, is slightly different than the Canadian Goose.  I love Canadian Geese and always go to the door to listen as they fly over.  It's just a sound I really love and always feel so blessed to hear.  So it is interesting to listen to the swans.  They are beautiful in flight, big, graceful, and white, especially against a gray sky full of impending snow.
Now that our snow is finally melting, it collects in the fields which then provides a great place for the swans to visit for a day.  I wish they would stay longer.
swans
I wish my telephoto lens were kinder to me. Winking
But you can see how beautiful they are.
swanssm
And of course, it always snows in April, right?
Here is what the pond looks like now, sans swans.
swanless

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sewing & Craft Projects

artsy-craftybabe You might have noticed a section in the right hand sidebar called Sewing & Craft Projects.  These are links I come across that offer free online tutorials or sewing patterns.  The wealth of creativity you can find online is just a wonderful thing. Big Hug

You might also have noticed that I added an Amazon store (also in the left sidebar) just for fun with items I've found that I love to look at and browse through.  There are so many books & things I would never know about unless someone showed me.  Which leads me to this post.  In my travels through Amazon pages I noticed a pot holder sewing book and a pretty little patchwork book patchwork which feature projects from a number of contributors including Beki from the Artsty-Crafty Babe blog.  This is just an awesome blog I have hardly even begun to peruse but know I am safe in pointing out to you a real gem!  As you might know, I so love color and am so anxious to make her little Button Flower Brooches.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fried Green Peas

healthy snacksHave you ever tried them? Crunchy and addicting! Happy Jack brought home some healthy snacks the other day, including pumpkin seeds and salted corn chips with flax. Love those! And odd as it sounds, I love the peas too. Yum. I put the corn chips in a jar and sucked the air out to keep them fresh and crisp.


Handheld FoodSaver applianceIf you have never used the handheld FoodSaver appliance, let me tell you it is wonderful. You just press the tip into this little top you fit over your jar and press the button until the little green light comes on. It's just very handy. I can't find it online anymore, but I'm hoping they will bring it back.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Taco Tuesdays & The Fun Bowls

I suppose everyone does this, but just in case you've never thought of it, I thought I'd share what we do when we have tacos which almost always falls on Tuesday night. LOL Taco John's would be so proud.

First we get out the "fun bowls."  One time one of the kids said, "let's use the fun bowls" so that's what we call them.  They're nice and big, but not too big.  Perfect for taco salad.

the fun bowls

I'm sure you'll find the perfect ingredients to add to this list, but we just all individually add to our bowls in no particular order, unless you are particular about these things, which I happen to be: Winking

Bite Size 100% Corn Tostitos Tortilla Chips
(or your favorite equivalent)
browned hamburger mixed with taco seasoning
shredded Cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
sliced black olives
chopped onions
Doritos, lightly broken

Toss and eat. Happy