Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taking Care of Business

I'll take this opportunity to make a couple of bloggy announcements.
Search Button
I've added a Search Button to make things a little easier in trying to find older posts. So, now, when you're trying to find that fabulous chicken fingers recipe or instructions to that awesome melted crayon art project, you can simply type in some key words in the search box (you can leave out the superlatives), hit search, and you'll find what you're looking for. Simple, right? The search box is found in the left-hand column of the post entitled Search This Blog. I hope this makes things easier to find and re-find!

LOVD Sponsors
Obviously, I don't blog for the money. I can't dedicate the time necessary to make this into a living; I have a child and a husband running his own business, remember? But, you'll see I'll do sponsored posts every now and again. Those I pick and choose and only select if I absolutely believe in the subject (like the Teach Kids about Money post), think a post would be fun to write about the subject (like the Walgreens Summer Beauty Routine post), or think you should really know about the subject (like The Bully Project post). The point is, I'm selective and I've only chosen a smidgen of paid-post opportunities that have come my way (there was an offer from a lady's pleasure product that I ABSOLUTELY did not consider - if you're looking for that, you're at the wrong blog).

So, when Coupons By Answers approached me as a sponsor I really had to think about it because I didn't want to be that kind of blog. You know what I'm talking about. I weighed the offer heavily in my mind. Before providing an answer, I used the site myself. Every time I'd be going to the store, I'd type in the store name just to make sure there wasn't an unknown coupon out there, lingering around so I could save some cash. Their site is easy to use and very convenient. I spoke to several friends about having the link from Coupons By Answers on my site and they encouraged me to do it because they wanted the savings and easy access to the coupons. So, I decided to give sponsorship a try. Coupons By Answers is located in the left-hand column and I hope you give them a try, too! I think any loss of respect will be turned around with the savings you'll see. Let me know how you do!

Etsy Shop Opening
Really? Let's not go there today.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gratitude Journal Monday

Happy Monday, to you! I hope you're starting your week with a smile. If Monday morning didn't turn out to be quite so smile-worthy, don't worry about. Force the smile and the changes in mind, body, and spirit will follow. You're body  and spirit can't deny when those smile muscles are at work so make the choice to smile, and the rest will fall into place.

266. I am grateful nature reminds us that love is all around if we just look for it.
267. I am thankful for all the inspiring athlete stories during the Olympics that encourage us all to go for it and be better, whether we're running a 100m dash, or chasing after our kids.
268. I am grateful for Super Hubby's creativity and sense of adventure as he is our family's entertainment director - what would the summer have been without his planning?
269. I am grateful for all the recognition last week's What I Made Wednesday received from other fabulous blogs like this one and this one - thanks!
270. I am thankful for another day to reach out to others through words from my heart.

Have a blessed week.

Want to begin your own Gratitude Journal? See my first entry, here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 55.

I'm glad I remembered to take a picture before we ate the whole thing.
Goodbye proving to my son there really is a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Pie at Baker's Square.
Goodbye cartooning camp and all the new friends my son made during the week.
This guy is rare!
Goodbye getting help from the LEGO Store staff in finding the Scottsman Bagpiper LEGO guy in the surprise packs - woo-hoo! 
Goodbye to my son having been awarded the Championship game ball for his awesome TRIPLE hit.
Goodbye to another dry week as our grass continues to turn a lighter shade of hay; but it has been nice taking "mow lawn" off the list of to-do's during this summer of drought.

Hello exploring new revenue paths for something I have shelved for a long time.
Hello taking delight into subtle, little signs that continue to remind me I am on the right path.
Hello to taking some time to write my son's annual letter as I reflect on his year of tremendous growth.
Hello making sure everyone's well-fed this weekend with some home-cooked meals.
Hello to cheering on Team USA during the London Olympics 2012!

Written in the Jones Root Beer bottle cap.
The lesson I learned this week hit me hard. You know, like when you truly have this light-bulb moment and all the fuzziness becomes crystal clear with a flip of a lens. My clarity came when the word "breakthrough" popped into my mind. My brain broke down the word and it finally made sense.Think back to an idea you may have had - a brilliant idea. You were excited to work out all the details in your mind, you told people about it and they were just as excited as you. Your idea was gaining momentum during the fun, planning phase and people were supporting your endeavor because it was exciting to discuss the possibilities and dream big.
Then comes the hard work, the effort, to make your words and ideas into a reality. Depending on the type of person you are, you may love this phase of the dream. I know I do. I love busying myself with working out all the details to make this idea happen. It's all set. You've got it all ready to go. Then you hit the next phase: you hope for a breakthrough. But, before you have your breakthrough, you will have to break but you must go through to the other side to finally find success. No one ever tells you how long this break process is but it always seems like it's way too long.

I think somebody's trying to tell me something.
You wait, and you wait, and you try to make opportunity happen but it just doesn't come. And with all your effort, nothing happens. So you fly around in this holding pattern, learning patience, testing faith, questioning your crazy idea, and almost breaking as you hear crickets in the middle of your field of dreams. People are still there to support you, but the excitement has died down, and all you have for motivation is yourself. This is the "break" part of "breakthrough". You will get discouraged and you'll think to yourself, "It will never happen", but it will. Oh, yes, it will because you have to keep plugging along. If you don't you'll never get "through" this part to see your true "breakthrough".

And once you go through the test, you will be grateful for the breaking part because your dream has grown stronger, not because it is fed by excitement and accolades, but because it is fed by perseverance and determination to never give up, to go through the breaking period.

I think I'm on the verge of my breakthrough, I just need to keep going through.

My hope is you make it through the breaking part and see your breakthrough, too, in what ever dream you are working towards making into a reality.

 Happy weekend, LOVD friends.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Do You Know?

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of (fill in the blank here). I want you to know something...

Do you know how much I appreciate you being here?
Do you know how grateful I am to have you in my life?
Do you know how much I value your company?
Do you know how much I enjoy sharing my world with you?
Do you know how humbled I am when you take the time to leave a comment?
 Do you know how greatly you are cherished?
Do you know how awesome you really are?
Do you know how much you matter?
Do you know you are loved?
Do you?

Guess What? I'm not the only one who feels this way about you.

"Because your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise you."
- Psalm 63:3 

Thanks so much for being here with me. You make blogging so worthwhile!

I'd love it if you'd Follow Me, Like Me, or subscribe via e-mail; just look to the right and decide how you want to keep in touch. LOVD tidings.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I Made Wednesday {My Hometown String Art}

This project will just tug at your heart strings. It's so easy, so fun, and the results are amazing! My son helped me with this project so it turned out extra special. I think his interest piqued when he saw a hammer was involved. With boys, the hammer is the fine line between a craft versus a project. Just know that, moms of boys.

 What You'll Need
Print out of your state map
Tiny brass nails
Wood platform
Crochet Yarn in your color choice
Mod Podge or glue and a brush (not shown)

I purchased the tiny nails and "wood slice" at Hobby Lobby. You can choose any type of nails but don't make them too long. The nails should also have a nice, flat head on the top to keep the string in place. If you want to do this with a canvas background, you'll have to lay a piece of wood behind the canvas, secure it, and then hammer the nails through the canvas and into the wood behind the canvas. I went with the "wood slice" platform for a more rustic feel. You'll notice two hammers. I wasn't sure which one I was going to use but found, once I started, the smaller, jeweler's hammer worked best for the tiny nails.
I wasn't sure what string I was going to use so I bought several with varying thickness. The nails were so tiny I didn't think the thicker yarn would work. I preferred using the thin crochet yarn, using the red for the heart.

What You'll Do
Scour the Internet and print out an outline image of your state. The print out should be appropriately sized for your wood platform size.
Use your ruler to size it out and cut out a little outside the outline.
Tape down your cut out state onto your wood platform.
Draw in a heart in the area where you live in your state. Hammer in each nail along the outline. Tear the print out to remove it from the hammered outline.
Now for the fun part. I had my son do the string art entirely by himself. You can't get it wrong. Just make sure as you wrap the string around the nails and go from side to side and across, you get every nail. It can be easy to miss a few.

Begin by knotting the end of the crochet yarn to one nail. Then, give yourself enough slack from the yarn and wrap away. Take the string across and around one nail, then change direction to another side, wrapping the string around each nail as you go. Avoid the area inside the heart, as that will be strung using a different color.
When each nail is wrapped with string at least once and you're satisfied with your string art design, cut the yarn giving enough length to tie another knot securing the string art remains taut and in place. For added security, I added a drop of Mod Podge to the end of the string on both ends, almost gluing the string to itself. It also helped to hide the extra little string from the end of the knot.

Repeat the same steps for the heart string art. You can see the Mod Podge in this photo.
What You'll Need to Know to Finish
I didn't attach any hanging hardware to the platform because my intention was for the finished piece to lean against the back of a display hutch. If this is also your intention and you go with the "wood slice", be sure to select one that will stand up straight when leaning against a backdrop. You'll notice the "wood slice" I chose had a flat, straight bottom.

I love the way this turned out. I especially love the fact that my son was the main artiste on this project! Yeah, a couple of nails were missed, but who cares! He did a great job and we had a lot of fun doing this project together.

If you were to do this project, what state would you represent?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Focused Priorities

Knowing your priorities is extremely important. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have everything we wanted? Wouldn't it be nice to not pick and choose based on our limitations? Well, that's not reality and that kind of thinking could get one into a lot of trouble. When you lose site of your priorities, you can lose wisdom in your decisions. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Reel it back and remind yourself of your priorities and then the decision presents itself.

In this season of my life, my son is my first priority. He is my purpose during this time in my life and my energies are directed toward him. We will make summer memories. We will have fun together. We will remember these days and I will regret nothing. In 8 short years he'll be off to college and I'll have all the time in the world to redirect my energies to my next purpose in a new season. But, I'm not rushing it. So, let's splash some more, let's linger in the pool, let's play and remember these days before they melt away like ice cream in a cone.

What do you consider your number one priority?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gratitude Journal Monday

Good morning, beautiful LOVD readers! Gosh, I missed you. My hope is this post finds you well. I took a two-week bloggy break and I'm honored to be back, sharing my life and thoughts, crafts and explorations, with you all. I come back, however, with a heavy heart as America is stripped of another layer of innocence with Colorado's theater shooting last week. The event is a tragic one and the hearts of America walk heavy as we just shake our heads and wonder "why?".

I don't think there are ever answers or even excuses to why such a tragedy is caused by one individual. But, this I do know for certain. On the day of the event, as the details overflowed over our television screens and into our living rooms, I know many of us lingered a little while longer on the phone with our loved ones, hugged our children a little tighter than the day before, and perhaps, were even grateful to be gifted another day to make a difference, share a laugh, or just be alive. Thanksgiving is a daily way of life and is not to be shelved in times where grace is questioned or understanding is blurred.

261. I'm grateful Americans come together in strength and support when tragedy strikes.
262. I am grateful for the courage law enforcement shows in times of uncertainty and danger.
263. I am thankful final judgement does not lay with us, on this Earth.
264. I am grateful we are given the capacity to go on after the darkest of days.
265. I am thankful to be back! Thanks for sticking around.

Happy Monday, everyone! Make this week more loving, more sweet, more gentle than the last.

My son is attending cartooning camp every day this week! What are your plans for the week?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Being Present

A Bloggy Break July 9 – July 22

I’ll be off the grid, friends, for the next two weeks. I wish I could tell you I’ll be in a remote villa in Italy, or a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains that happens to strain for cell signal, but no. (Who am I kidding? I hate packing.) Instead, I’m taking the next two weeks to soak up my family and friends and drink them up until I’m drunk with happiness from those I love most. No day will be left to anything short of summer adventures and good times, soaking up the memories of each minute, just spent doing stuff together, as a family. I want to be fully present, and that’s the only concentration for the next two weeks. Hopefully, the time away doesn't make for forgetful hearts. We'll see each other on the web, again, very soon. Please don't forget about me. So, enjoy the break from my random ramblings. If you really miss me, check out the “about me” or “What I Made Wednesday” posts, all neatly organized in the left column, see the headings? If you're new here, it'll give us a chance to get to know each other! See you on July 23 for Gratitude Journal Monday. Hugs and kisses.

LOVD tidings,

If you really miss me, go ahead and click on the link below, automatically voting for feelLOVDeveryday! Thanks and see you soon!
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Friday, July 6, 2012

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 54.

I give him Friday off! I'm not that mean:-)
Goodbye beginning "Mom School" and taking an hour each day with my son to practice typing, math facts, writing, and trumpet. Gotta keep sharp for 5th grade.

Goodbye baseball game played in the dark at the end of the week.

Goodbye celebrating Independence Day with fireworks (and a lightning show) enjoyed from the comfort and dryness and safety of my son's bedroom window.

Goodbye drinking lots and lots of Gatorade on the golf course.

Goodbye getting the electric bill in the mail and not wanting to open it - the air conditioning has been running non-stop.

Hello wide-open weekend with endless possibilities.
Hello scheduled boxing fight between heat and humidity - the storms are a-coming.
Hello board games, movies, and cuddles on the couch between popcorn bites.
Hello Super Hubby recovering from a tough week, the short weeks are the hardest.
Hello buying more hard drive space from Google as it seems I've exceeded my limit - ooooo!

My lesson learned this week is to stand by my man. I didn't support him earlier this week and, although he was right and had enough guts to do something about it, I should have been behind him. The scene: this past week's baseball game. The start time was 7:30 PM, so late, but plenty of time to get in a game. The play time's are supposed to be 1 hour, 30 minutes. 9:00 came and it was getting dark; like stormy dark. It was obvious another round of storms was going to move in through our area. At 9:00 the game was supposed to be over but the Umpire asked the kids if they wanted to play another inning. Isn't that like asking a monkey if he wants a banana?

The opposing team was up at bat first. With the storm approaching and the wind kicking up, it was hard to see the ball on our light-less field. Super Hubby was sitting next to me, complaining about the situation. "I can't believe the Umpire is having them play another inning in the dark. Somebody's going to get hurt. Was that thunder? Yes, I heard thunder. Well, if no one's going to be the voice of reason, here, I'm taking my kid out of the game before he gets hit by lightning." Super Hubby got up, told the coach he was taking out our son, and we left. Yes, it was getting dark fast, yes the storm was over our heads ready to wail on us, yes, there was thunder, no, the Umpire didn't call the game, even though it was extra-innings for fun. I heard other parents talking and wondering if they should do the same thing, but they just sat there discussing it instead of taking any action.

I'll admit, at first, I was embarrassed but that quickly turned into pride. By the time we got to our car, the Umpire did, in fact, call the game. Perhaps Super Hubby was the catalyst? My son's only disappointment: "I didn't get the end-of-the-game snack." Yeah, doesn't seem like we're pulling out a future A-Rod, so what's the big deal?

I'm proud of you, Super Hubby, for having the guts to make the wise choice and do something about it. You'd chalk it up to keeping our son safe, and I am on the same page, but I just sat there, didn't want to rock the boat. I just wondered if I should do something, but you actually did it! Bravo for taking action and being the voice of reason (and protecting our son).

Have a great and safe weekend, everybody!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

Are you happy? Do you know the definition of happiness? No, don't get up and get your dictionary; keep Webster on the shelf because what I'm truly asking you is different for every single person on the planet. My happiness is not your happiness. But, knowing your own definition of it can make a difference in your life.

What I love about discovering one's own happiness is there isn't a right or wrong answer and there certainly shouldn't be judgement from others. If there is, send them this post, and this one, too, while you're at it. Happiness is also evolving and changes from time to time. As I type I am hearing the wind pick up wildly outside, bending the trees so much it's whipping the side of the house. I'm watching the sunshine that greeted my day this morning fade away, only to be replaced with threatening storm clouds that have every intention of making their power known. And, there goes the rain and hail (yes, this is really happening right now so I'll finish up before heading to the basement). But, today this weather comforts me and sends me to my happy place because I'm watching the whole thing unfold from the comfort of my cozy home (and I have no place to be). If I had plans to go to an amusement park this morning, well, I'd be pretty bummed and I know happiness would not be on my morning's menu. But that's emotional happiness that can change as quickly as a newborn's diaper. The happiness I'm talking about is stable and grounded.

We know happiness is personal and different for each individual. We know happiness is a matter of perspective. We also know happiness is fluid and ever-changing. But, in my life's journey, I've concluded happiness is not an emotion, but rather a place where my content heart resides peacefully. It's a good gauge to have when you set out to pursue your dreams. If there is disruption of my heart's residence, I try to take it slowly, proceed with caution, and be sure I have a back-out plan when I finally listen to my heart and discover the path I'm on is not in The Plan. There will be stormy weather, but the sunshine always finds a way back.

It's OK to be scared and nervous about new opportunities or ventures. But you have to step out, you have to try. Your heart is there to direct your path and, if you know your own happy place, you'll know when your headed in the right direction, and when you're not. So, do as our Forefathers stated and pursue your own happiness because it's not something you can buy, and it certainly won't be handed to you. "Pursuit" is a verb, friend. Time to put some action into it! You'll be happy you did.

"When you find your happiness, you find yourself." - Lilly of LOVD

Friends, have you found your happy place?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What I Made Wednesday {Flashlight Art}

Happy 4th of July to all my American readers! Whether you are celebrating our nation's Independence Day or not, this project is the coolest of the cool. I got the idea from this blog and just couldn't believe we got it to work. We originally did this for a Father's Day card for Super Hubby's parents but we had some extra fun with our own art!

Super Hubby is in the back writing with the flashlight and our son is in the front sitting very still holding the flashlight to illuminate his face.
What You'll Need
camera where you can adjust aperture or shutter speed
flashlight (we used an LED flashlight)
a very dark night

What You'll Do
First, set-up your area. We turned off all the lights in the house and went to the backyard to take the photos.

Second, place your camera on a tri-pod and position to where you'll be painting with light.

Third, set the camera's shutter speed to 30. It will take 30 seconds from the time you press the button to the time the camera's lens closes, so you'll have 30 seconds to "paint".

Fourth, look at the shot after it's done and make adjustments from there.

You can draw on yourself. My son drew horns on his head and gave himself a bow and arrow, using only the flashlight as his "paintbrush".

Some advice:
1. You should remain as still as possible while you paint with your light source. You can move across the frame, but don't be wild about it.

2. Always, always point your light source towards the camera. This is a lot harder than you think because it positions your wrist in a funny, awkward way. But the camera needs to see the light at all times while you're moving it.

3. The darker the area, the better.

See how we're blurry? It's because we were moving during the shot.
4. If you do a shot like we did where there is a person in front, illuminated by another light, then that person must remain very still or they will be blurry in the final photo.

Crossed "T" is misplaced.

5. You have to remember your place while you "paint" in the air. You'll notice Super Hubby didn't cross the "T" in the right place.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Honestly, this was so much fun and so cool to do!!! We tried our regular flashlight and got more of a yellow glow. The LED flashlight (a little keychain LEGO flashlight is all we used) really made the lines crisp! If you want a better view of the photos, just click on them to make them bigger.
The line above was made with a regular flashlight. See how it's more yellow? Our son is holding the LED flashlight. See the difference?

Many of you may have access to sparklers this evening. I wonder how those would work in this activity? I hope you try this fun form of art and Happy Independence Day, America!

If you try this, I'd love to see your results. E-mail me your photos and I'll share them with LOVD readers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Root Beer Wars...and We Have a Giveaway Winner!

My family takes great entertainment in blind taste-testing our favorite food categories and determining a hands-down winner. We've put various popcorn varieties head-to-head. We actually made 6 different hamburger recipes and declared a winner before the coals cooled in the barbie! Do you not remember the French Fry post? Hey, if you're going to try to live a life of excellence, you might as well find the best tastes for your buds, right?
Root beer. I've never been a fan growing up but Super Hubby had me hooked a few years back as he used it as a vehicle for vanilla ice cream, introducing me to root beer floats. Our son's palate is more sophisticated, as he cracked his first crab leg at the age of 3 and insists lobster is his favorite meal; I had more mac-n-cheese tastes back in my toddling years. So yes, our son's a fan of the root beer.

Don't overwhelm by choosing too many to taste.
In keeping with tradition, we began our search for competitors. We ventured out to our local grocery store and World Market, in order to get the variety we were hoping to sample. FYI - our son's teacher loves root beer and we gave him his own collection to sample as our end-of-the-year teacher's gift.

We are very familiar with A & W Root Beer, as well as Mug Root Beer, so we left those out of the competition. We gathered our paper bags to wrap each bottle ensuring a "blind" taste-test, labeled each bag with a number, and started pouring into our little sample cups. Each sample got its own cup. With pen and paper in hand, we began rating our sips like a Sommelier analyzes wine. We smelled, we swished, we swallowed and we each came up with our own favorite. Super Hubby's fave: Virgil's. Kiddo's fave: Jones. My fave: Natural Brew. But favorites does not a winner make; we needed consensus. And the winner is...Jones Root Beer. Congrats!

Speaking of winners, the winner to LOVD's Etsy Shop $20 gift card according to Random.org is:

Ashley who said...
"I have never actually bought anything from Etsy, but I do have plans to when my best friend finds out what she is having today!"

Ooo, Ashley, I created a "Nesting" necklace you may want to consider for your best friend after I open up the shop!!!!
I'll be sure to e-mail you so we can stay in touch...and you can bug me about finally opening up the shop!

See you tomorrow for a fascinating What I Made Wednesday. Follow Me, Like Me, or Subscribe so you're sure not to miss it!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gratitude Journal Monday

As I grow older, I find my desire for simplicity ever increasing. I find great joy in noticing a rainbow after a misted sprinkle or admiring the beauty of a flowering weed. Either I'm in my last days, or I'm maturing with wisdom. Lately, I'm drawn to design books touting the "simple home". Even my daily meals have been pared down to savoring summer's harvest in its purest form like enjoying berries straight from the vine or indulging in baby lettuce with just a hint of salt, no dressing.

Life is most enjoyed when it is in its simplest form. Who needs the luxury man offers through material goods and unattainable lifestyles sprouted throughout the pages of Town and Country, when it is the luxury of simplicity that enriches our lives and makes us whole? The luxury of enough. I'm heading in that direction, but unfortunately I have a long way until I arrive to that kind of thinking, but I'm getting there, s-l-o-w-l-y. I pray that my wants never exceed the contentment of knowing all my needs have already been met. Oh, how truly blessed I am. You are, too!
"We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without." - Henry David Thoreau
256. I am grateful for having the purest riches life offers: family, food, and friends.
257. I am grateful I am able to have the time to gather such acknowledgements.
258. I am grateful for the words of gratitude I share with you, hoping the right phrase inspires you.
259. I am grateful for the simple heart that lies within me, slowly surfacing and making itself more and more aware of the luxury of enough.
260. And in all this sweltering heat, I am grateful for air-conditioning.

If you'd like to know why I started my Gratitude Journal, click here.

Don't forget to enter LOVD's 1-year Blogiversary Giveaway! Click here.

Stay cool, friends, and have a great Monday.

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