Thursday, February 19, 2015

Peek-a-boo Card

 This fun card changes pictures as you open it! I followed this tutorial to make a get-well card for a friend. It was not terribly confusing to do, but reading through all the instructions first (and watching the video) is a must. I made two cards and was quite happy with them.
 As you open the card...
...a new picture slides into view. If you have a couple of rubber stamps that go together, or an image and a greeting, this is a good card to use them on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Your House Beautiful

Golden Sunlight
Golden Sunlight
Philip Leslie...
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It might come as a comment on a post, on your social media, or an email in the inbox, and usually goes something like this: "You are so perfect. Your house is so perfect. Your family is so perfect. There's not a thing wrong in your photos. It makes me feel like such a slob [makes me feel like mud-- makes me feel bad-- discourages me from even trying]. I wonder if you have real-life problems. Can you show us all your kitchen when it is filthy and with dirty dishes in the sink?"

As a blogger, it is very tempting to let others "contribute" to the blog, steering your subject matter and making you add or retract things according to comments. Feedback on a blog can appeal to the blogger's sense of generosity and friendliness, or make the blogger feel guilty, backward, or as if they omitted something. Some of these comments can become downright discouraging, taking the wind our of your sails. The worst feeling is when a blogger thinks she has alienated her readers by coming across "snobby" or perhaps given the mistaken impression that she is a "perfect" housekeeper, organizer, etc.. To correct the misunderstanding becomes top priority!

The remedy to this is to have a "tell all & let it all hang out" post, in order to humbly let readers know that you, too, are human. There must be many admissions plus photographic proof that you are not a liar. Blog owners lower themselves to the dust-under-the-rug and show pictures of the messiest parts of their house, their children in PJ's at noon, or the blog author herself in some unflattering photo. This exercise may be to strip bloggers of the last shred of dignity they might have, or to get her to scramble to show the behind-the-scenes of the photo shoot instead of the photo shoot. This gratifies the readers who somehow assumed that you, the blogger, were from another planet or perhaps a fake, temporarily quiets the complainers, and provides amusement to the back-seat-blog-drivers who are probably snickering in their sleeves at the whole thing. For a while, the blogger feels better, too, and let's hope all suggestions of such a nature will stop and let her get on with her life.

I don't know if my opinion counts for anything, but I, as a reader, am sorry to see those kinds of posts. I go to many blogs on purpose to see something clean and pretty; to rest my eyes on beautiful vignettes, like a vase of flowers in a well-lit room. I go to see someone's table made beautiful for a tea party-- someone's table that isn't covered in projects at the moment. I go to see the ideas in decorating. Sometimes the decorating isn't even my taste, but I like the colors, or the arrangement, or just to see someone else's style. Sometimes it is a homemaking blog I go to for ideas on how to organize my home, or homeschool my children, or to see a new crafty project. 

Sunday Tea-Time
Sunday Tea-Time
Stephen ...
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I don't go to see blogger's dirty dishes, their piles of laundry, or clutter on the coffee table, I can see that without the aid of the computer screen. I know those things exist in everyone's home; I also know that as soon as I see those posts, the poor blogger got that email or comment.

I never assume that the person who posts fabulous photos of her clean and pretty home is a perfect person! We all have sick days, sick children, busy family schedules, Thanksgiving-and-Christmas-aftermaths, big projects, house renovations, tons of company, or just the plain old "I'm too tired" day. If my house was ever all clean at once, it would be enough of an event to warrant a photo shoot, too. All that assumed already, I can go and enjoy the moment of beauty that a blogger spends time to set up and share with the public, without worrying that they never have a mess in their house. I don't think that a blog has to have a "mess" post just to justify its existence.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't ever post something "real life." Some messes say "home," such as the flour on a cutting board next to a bowl of bread dough, or a game with all its pieces out, sitting on a side table. There are the posts that have an amusing story that we all enjoy, about housekeeping mishaps or what the kiddos did to make a mess, but those are published for the humor and not to humor. Construction or renovation posts are interesting and sometimes informative to follow along with. At the same time I'm sure that the blogger who is living through a renovation must enjoy setting up a photo shoot of a pretty, undisturbed part of her life to share on her blog.

There is nothing wrong with staging a photo shoot for the art of it. If the kids are playing with their toys strewn over half the house, I think it is okay for a blogger to set up a photo shoot of a toy-less part of her home and stage a pretty picture. I've never ever seen a photo caption that says "this is the way my house is: perfect all the time" and I doubt I'll ever see one.

I can also understand the reader longs for a pretty house, well-mannered children or a better organized space, and writes to ask the blogger "how do you do that?" As a matter of fact, I enjoy the "how to" posts very much. A post on "how to fold the laundry" is one thing, but I hate to see bloggers intimidated to the point that they start showing pictures of the dirty laundry just to appease a few.

For further thoughts on similar subjects, see  qualifying your blog posts and  cold-water dumping.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Valentine

The Pleasant Times 2015 Valentine!

It was such a nice diversion on a rainy day to get out papers, scissors, glitter and glue and make something pretty just to brighten the week. This valentine is made up of  paper scraps, old calendars, catalogs, packaging, scrapbook papers, doilies, and bits and pieces from friends, the internet, and the dollar store! Oh, and just to add a bit of shine, a round silver cardboard cake base is under the pink heart doily. I could have added extra interest by mounting the pieces at varying heights, and then framed the valentine in a shadow box, but I made it flat this time to go in a scrapbook later.

(To see a previous collage, click here)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Is America Going Down the Tubes, or Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Vintage Postcard found on Wikimedia , David Slack.

Editor's Note: I was getting ready to post something red, pink, and cheery for Valentine's day, but I came across this article I had written a while ago and I thought it was a pity it was never posted. I don't know how this article got "lost" in drafts, but it is based on a class I attended and I think the thoughts are timely even though it will be "late" for whatever purpose I was saving it.
We had an interesting lesson on Christian Citizenship and the trite saying came up, "America is going down the tubes!" Our teacher pointed out a few things about that, and I would like to share them here:

In Scriptures, we have a few examples of a nation's or city's options when they are headed downhill. We discussed two. First there is the case of Sodom. The Lord was set to destroy that city, but He would have spared it if there were as few as 10 righteous people in it (you can read the story in Genesis 18:20-33). If you recall the whole story, Lot had moved into that city with his family (Genesis 13), but they had to leave before its destruction (Genesis 19).

The second example used was what the Lord told Solomon about the nation of Israel. He said in 2 Chronicles 7:14
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

The conclusion was, that the state of the nation depends on the state of Christians and the church. We are living under the New Testament with Christ's Law, but what we learn in the Old Testament are principles and examples that apply to our lives. If you notice, in that scripture in Chronicles it says "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Folks that are waiting around for the whole entire nation to wake up at once and see how bad things are, and for everyone in the country to get down on their knees and pray in one body, will be waiting until the judgment day. It is the Christians in the land that are wearing the name of Christ that should be praying.

But not just praying. This lesson got me to thinking about some other things.

A song came to mind,

       Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?

Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?

I emphasized that last line, because my thoughts run like this: how many Christians think that they have to have one foot in the world in order to get along, or to be an influence, or to be relatable? Is a relationship with the world going to help us to be more righteous?

How many times have Christians thought that they can't give the impression of being too stuck up or something, and compromised with the world? Whole groups from church having a "movie night" and going to the theatre to see films that they should not be watching! Dressing immodestly! Wearing shirts and accessories with worldly messages on them! Getting tattooed! Social drinking! Using cuss/slang/swear words! Listening to music that only can be distinguished from worldly music by a few lyrics (if you can hear them above the din)! Reading unwholesome books or magazines! Young people living with each other, and not getting married or being reproved by their parents! Old people gambling their money away! Missing the gathering of the saints every week for communion and exhortation, to go to ball games or what have you! These aren't just "black sheep" I'm talking about, I'm speaking of groups of Christians, of whole families, as well as individuals.

The church needs to keep itself pure from the world. We are in the world, but not of it, so we need to be careful not to adopt worldliness and get sucked right into an on-the-fence way of life! Parents should train their children in the Bible and its living every day, by example and by teaching, not just expect a few Bible story hours to deeply root God's word in their lives. Young people need to take care, and walk the walk carefully, not letting anyone lure them off of the path of life! Older Christians-- don't rest on your laurels! Keep watchful!

America doesn't have to go down the tubes-- God's mercy will save it, if His people are walking uprightly.

Christian families are so important to a healthy state of the nation! That is why Satan tries so hard to attack the family unit. In the story of Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, there were not found 10 righteous people there to save them. Wasn't Lot and his family there, though? The Bible mentions his sons-in-law. We aren't told the number, but I wonder how many people there were in his family. Just think-- if there were ten people in his family, and Lot had been more of an influence on them, they could have saved those cities and all of their inhabitants.