Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Little Blog Hop That Could

Like my new modem? A thunderstorm took out my old one three days ago and sent me into a near-frantic state of uncertainty that my little blog hop would be able to run as scheduled. However, I was able to post it a little later than scheduled last night! PHEW!!!

Just wanted to thank everyone who has already signed up, as well as any more that may later on! I assumed there might not be many participants for the first one, and I set a goal of 10. I thought 25 would be even better but close to impossible. Well, 17 of you (so far) are making my dream come true :)

I am off now to respond to and follow EACH of you. You were so kind to help me get my project off the ground. You will always be special to me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flock Together Blog Hop Is Open!

Flock Together

Welcome to the first Flock Together Tuesday Blog Hop! To join in...
  • Follow the host and guest host publicly on GFC or Facebook.
  • Link up as much as you like, and then visit other blogs that interest you.
  • Leave a comment if you follow, and follow back those who follow you.
Family-friendly only, please!

(If this is all new to you, click here. If you still have questions, feel free to ask!)

This week's "Fine Feathered Friend" and guest host is Wendy at

"Pickle jars and pears is a collection of my thoughts, photo's, and craft projects that I am trying to learn. As a full time caregiver to my 91 year old mother I started my blog as an avenue to DE-stress and to  express myself through writing and photography. Blogging has allowed me to learn and grow as a person in ways I never imagined and sharing my journey with my readers has been a wonderful blessing for me."

If you'd like a chance to be next week's "Fine Feathered Friend" and guest host,
please help grow our audience by doing one or more of the following,
and leave a comment letting me know you did. 
  • Publish a post on your blog about joining this blog hop.
  • Post this blog hop on your blog by using the linky code at the bottom of the list.
  • Add my "Flock Together Tuesday Blog Hop" button to your blog.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Kreativ Blogger Award" (Thanks GoToMommy!)

Leila, at Go To Mommy, has been so kind as to award me the Kreativ Blogger Award! I've enjoyed reading her posts and am honored that she likes reading mine as well.

The rules of the award state: Thank the person who gave you the award, share 7 things about yourself, and give the award to 7 blogs!

So, I'm going to change it up a bit (or not change it, depending on how you look at it) by seeing how much Leila and I have in common! Here are 7 things about me (be sure to look at Leila's list and compare - I was surprised!):
  1. I'm pretty transparent. Now you have to factor in the fact that, being a Southern girl, I'll go around the world to preserve your feelings, but I'm quite certain I give away much of what I think and feel in my expressions.
  2. In my married life we have lived in 5 homes.
  3. I love animals that belong to other people ;)
  4. Tattoos and piercings? NO WAY! Two holes - in my ears - is enough!
  5. I LOVE TO SING! Accolades include being in the state honor chorus and being named most talented senior girl in high school. Not quite resume quality material, but they're fond memories!
  6. I like batch cooking because I don't really like to cook. I do like to bake, but I can't decorate cakes at all!!!
  7. Crafting...hmmm...I do like it, but I never feel that the end result is what was intended :)
The blogs I love to read and feel deserve this award are...
    1. Lap Dog Knits
    2. Pickle Jars and Pears
    3. Answers from the Queen of Useless Information
    4. Busy Mom's Tips
    5. Musings of a Bored Housewife
    6. Domestic Imperfections
    7. Pattyville

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Batch Cooking Beef = (Nearly) Instant Main Dishes

I began batch cooking ground beef when I found a batch cooking tutorial on Christy Jordan's Southern Plate website several years ago.  My technique is a little different, so you may want to check out her site too (which has step-by-step pictures) and see what works for you. Here's what I do:
  1. Place a large portion (5+ pounds) of ground beef in a large pot, and cover with water.
  2. Use a potato masher to make a mushy mess!
  3. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Use the masher to lift what's on the bottom, or you'll end up with a really big hamburger patty down there :)
  4. When the meat is browned, drain it in a large colander placed in a larger bowl. Let it drain for about 5 minutes.
  5. Place colander on a plate covered with paper towels, and let it drain for another 5 minutes.
  6. After meat has cooled enough to handle, dip out two "1 cup" scoops and place in a quart sized Ziploc bag.
  7. Remove air and seal the bag. Flatten it as much as possible. 
These bags will be used to make spaghetti sauce, taco meat, chili beans, etc. It's a real time-saver!

If you are a REAL batch cooker (as I aspire to be), I'd love to hear your tips or get links to your posts about it! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Welcome "Welcome Wednesday" Blog Hoppers!

So glad you're here! Please look around, and leave a comment if you decide to follow, so I can follow you right back!

How to Build a Blog Hop: Part 5 "The Post"

(This is the LAST in a series of posts about starting my own blog hop...I think...)

Here's where we are now...my little blog hop  has a name (Flock Together Tuesday), a button linking it to my blog, a button box to share with others, and a linky set up and ready to go. I've also determined the structure of how to participate. I think all I need to do now is compose the post that will invite everyone to participate!

I thought I'd just hit on the highlights of said post, which you'll see on Monday evening :)

  • Blog Button Box: at the top of the post for those who want to post it on their blog
  • Welcome: a BRIEF introduction of the blog hop
  • Instructions for joining
  • Instructions about how to be chosen as the "Fine Feathered Friend" and guest host the following week
Soooo, I beg invite you to come back on Monday, September 26, at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern) and  join me as this adventure takes flight!

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Build a Blog Hop: Part 4 "The Button"

(The 4th in a series of posts about starting my own blog hop)

At this stage, I wanted to do two things: turn my image into a button that would take the reader to my blog hop and create a "grab my button" box in case anyone wanted to add it to their blog.

Turn an Image into a Linked Button
The next step was to make my button active. Instead of giving all the details, I'm simply going to direct you to this tutorial that worked perfectly. I loved how I was able to do it completely within Blogger! The only change I made was that I did change the alternative name to my own choosing.

Create a "Grab My Button" Box
I have to admit this was as easy as looking at the HTML code for my blog's "Grab My Button" box, which my blog designer included in my package (have I already mentioned how wonderful it was to work with Dreamlike Magic Designs) and then change the picture URL. If you'll look to the right of the screen, you'll see my new "Grab My Button" box for the blog hop. If you need more info, I found lots of tutorials by Googling "create a button box."

It's really coming together now! I think I'm close to just waiting for Tuesday to roll along! Next post: Writing the post!

How to Build a Blog Hop: Part 3 "Linking"

(The 3rd in a series of posts about starting my own blog hop)

I'm ready for the linking mechanism (my term - I've no idea what it's actually called). I looked at a few and decided on Linky Tools because I just liked the way its creator, Brent Riggs, presented himself and his services. Turns out, he's the creator of blog hops!

It's free for a month but then costs $24 for a yearly subscription. It appears as though there are many cool features that help justify the cost. The problem for me is that I haven't monetized my blog - not selling or advertising anything. I haven't even begun reviewing products yet! It's just a great hobby. So I'm not sure I can justify paying for it. No matter, I do have a free trial for a month :)

Linky Tools has a tutorial that is really helpful to follow. I had this demonstration playing in one tab while I was on my Linky Tools Dashboard on another tab, so I could follow him as he spoke.

So now I am set up with a Linky! Next up? Whatever it is will be in Part 4.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How to Build a Blog Hop: Part 2 "Structure"

(This is the second post about building my own blog hop)

There are good reasons for every requirement that blog hop hosts set up:
  • to help publicize the blog hop
  • to reward the host for hosting
  • to ensure that participants get new followers
But following these rules is time consuming and frustrating on a slow-loading computer (ok, that's from a prior post).

I adhere to the K.I.S.S. philosophy whenever possible, so I want my blog hop to be user- friendly and quick to join. I'm a little nervous about a "no rules" blog hop, though. I fear that everyone would join the linky but not visit anyone else. Do you realize what that would mean? We'd all hear crickets! There'd be no benefit to joining the hop except name recognition. 
So, I'm taking a middle-of-the road position. By the way, A Rural Journal wrote a post to which I am referring as I set up the following guidelines...

  1. The blog will open at 6 p.m. each Monday evening, as much as it is within my ability to do so.
  2. I will publish the linky post sometime between 6 - 10 p.m. each Monday evening and include a link directly to the full post.
  3. I'm considering featuring a guest blog from the list of participants. But another requirement (to follow that blog)? I dunno.
Rules and Reasons

  1. "Follow the leader(s):" Everyone who joins the blog hop needs to publicly follow my blog and the blogs of any co-host or guest host through GFC or Facebook.
  2. Leave a comment so I can follow back, and I WILL follow back within a few days. I'm a little concerned about following hyper-posters - you know, folks who post twenty times a day? That's just not my cup of tea. But I suppose I could stop following if necessary. So far, this is the only dilemma I've come across in setting up a blog hop. I like to scan my Google Reader, and the thought that one or two bloggers would root out others by posting numerous times within the hour is not pleasant.
  3. Link up your main blog, Twitter, and/or Facebook page (family-friendly only, please).
 Completely Optional, but helpful to all:
  • Visit and follow as many new blogs as you like. Be sure to leave comment so they can follow back.
  • Follow back those who follow you, if you're comfortable doing so. Leave a comment to let them know you did.
  • Write a post about all the blog hops you're you're joining on that particular day.
  • Add my blog button to your list of blog hops, if you have one on your blog.
Alright, so I've ended up building this blog hop on only three rules and the faith that those who join WILL visit and follow each other. We'll see how it goes! 

What's next? I don't know, but I'll post whatever it is in Part 3!

How to Build a Blog Hop: Part 1 "Name It"

Joining blog hops has been so much fun for me! I've met lots of interesting people, enjoyed reading inspiring, entertaining, and informative blogs, and expanded my GFC followers group. I suppose it was only natural that I would end up wanting my very own blog hop! So, I've decided to do it!

Considering that there's so much I don't know, I thought it might be informative (perhaps entertaining considering the potential for blunders) for you to follow me on this adventure.

1. The Name: More challenging than it would appear! Look at the list of things I had to consider...
  • Which day? It had to be one that would be convenient for me to follow everyone back and one that didn't already have a lot of other blog hops.
  • What theme? If I could tie it to my blog's theme and motif, it would add branding power to my blog.
  • Catchy? I wanted folks to be able to remember it so they could search for it if necessary. 
  • PLUS...It had to have blog hop or the equivalent and fit on a blog button in a font large enough to be easily read.
After much brainstorming, I settled on "Flock Together Tuesday Blog Hop."

2. The Button: I found a FABULOUS tutorial that allowed me to make a button quickly and easily, without Photoshop. However, it was missing my bird motif, so I went back to my blog template designer at Dreamlike Magic Designs and had her make the button (at a charge of only $5) for me. Who better than the designer of my blog motif to design my blog hop button?  I thought I'd share it with you, even though it isn't linked to anything yet.

As usual, she did a wonderful job! If you're building your own blog hop too, I'd LOVE  to hear your tips and experiences.

What's next? I'm not sure (I've never done this before), but whatever it is will be posted in in Part 2 :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Six weeks into blogging and I'm having a ball! I'm a little embarrassed by some of the thoughts I've found myself thinking...
  • "You know, if I'm going to spend this much time at the keyboard, I should start getting my nails professionally. Plus, what if I decide to take a picture of me holding something?"
  • "Uuugh. These pictures from my digital camera are just not cutting it! I need a bigger, faster, more professional one!"
  • "This computer is SOOO slow. I think it needs more RAM. No, we probably just need to replace it altogether!"

I have to combat this stinking thinking with THE TRUTH:

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Philippians 4:11
Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks... 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I really believe it was providence that led me to create my little blog, so that I could connect, encourage and learn from other women. I am determined to have an attitude of gratitude for all He's provided me to be able to do it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Children's Worship Notes Printable

This form is what developed when I realized that my son needed a tool to help him stay attentive during worship services, both for his benefit, as well as mine and those around us! It eventually became a program in which school-aged children  who choose to complete it during the worship service have the opportunity to receive a reward and be recognized in the bulletin the following week if theirs is selected.

Although the image above is a bit fuzzy, it opens to a much clearer and larger image once you click on it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday's Seeds

Planted in my heart on this day of worship…

Sunday School
Honor the spiritual leaders God's placed in your life, but continuously check what they say and do by the Word of God (Thanks Sheila!).

“Your love still amazes me!” (Thanks Tony!).

The Sermon
Receive God’s gift of grace. It will carry you through every situation you face. (Thanks Honey!).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blog Hopping for Dummies

(Don't be offended...I'm barely in the know myself)

Ever wonder what a blog hop is and how you can jump on board? While I'm hardly the expert, I am willing to share what I've learned about them.

What is a blog hop?
"A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog. Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list. The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides. Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!" (Linky Tools)
Blog hops are lists of blogs whose owners invite you to visit their blogs and hopefully choose to follow them, via Linky Followers, GFC (Google Friends Connect), Facebook, Twitter, etc. The end result should be more followers of your blog and friends for you.

How do I participate?

1. List your blog. Blog hop hosts (the blog owner willing to design the button, set up the linky list, write the post, etc.) sometimes have requirements for participation. Once you've met the blog hosts requirements as listed on the post, list your blog, being sure to enter your BLOG'S name (not YOUR name - Hah! Made that mistake only once twice) and any other required info you're directed to provide.

2. Follow blogs that interest you and ask them to follow back.
Click on links in the list that interest you. Once there, you'll need to decide whether or not you want to follow them. This is done by clicking the button for whatever venue you choose: Linky Followers, Twitter, Google Plus, GFC, Facebook, etc. Following means that you'll be notified via your reader (for example, I use the Linky Followers Blog Reader and Google Reader) each time they update their blog. If you follow a blog, be sure to leave a quick comment to notify them and invite them to follow your blog too!

3. Follow back those who ask you to do so if you're so inclined.
Other bloggers may follow the link to your website and decide to follow you. They'll probably leave you a comment saying such and ask you to follow back.

How do I find a blog hop?

One way is to click on the buttons (boxes that display advertise a blog hop) that you'll find on blog pages. I can't assure you that they'll be active, but you can tell by looking at the date of the post to which they direct you. I also keep an eye on my reader feeds in the evening, at which time blog hops are usually opened for the next day. You can also "Google" specific dates and land a few.

I remember staring wide-eyed at blog hops for several days before I got my feet wet. Maybe it's all the jargon..."following you" (kinda scary!)..."GFC"..."following back"... Please contact me if I can help you get your feet wet too. I will say it became really comfortable really fast! I have made lots of lovely friends through blog hopping, and I hope you will too!