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My Guest Post at MomComm

I'm very excited to announce that my guest post for MomComm is now live! Hop over to MomComm today to read my guest post on the topic How Blogging Has Changed Me.

Blog Button Slideshow Tutorial

I received a question recently about my blog button slideshow, so today I thought I'd take you through my process of showing love to my bloggy link up friends without cluttering up my sidebar.

Why a Slideshow?
Previously, I laid out all the blog buttons for link parties I participate in into one long widget full of buttons.  This made for an extra long web page and lots of eye clutter. In an effort to de-clutter my blog's sidebar, I weighed the different options for displaying buttons-either a buttons page or a slideshow.

Putting blog buttons on their own page felt like wasted page space to me since I only participate in a handful of link parties. Besides that, I wanted to keep pages related to my blog.

Using a slideshow would greatly reduce the size used in the sidebar, and would still display my linky blog buttons proudly without overwhelming the page as a whole.

It was decided. For me, a slideshow was the best way to maximize my sidebar space and still show support for my linky blog sisters.

Rounding Up the Troops
If you're doing this from scratch, you'll want to round up all your linky buttons {that will mean a lot of open internet browser tabs or windows}. If you already have a widget laying out everyone's buttons {like I had previously}, then you're ahead of the game.  Open your widget {leave it open for later} and prepare for plenty of copying and pasting!

Find a Generator
Thanks to ricocheting.com, you can plug your blog link buttons into their Image Slideshow generator so you can generate your own badge slideshow! I happen to come across them by doing a simple google search.

Configure your Settings
First thing to do when creating your slideshow is to configure your settings. From randomization to slideshow control options, you tell the generator how you want your slideshow to work.
Some things to consider:
  • Randomizing will give all your buttons a "fair shot" at displaying themselves proudly instead of showing buttons in the same order every time.  
  • Keep it simple. Placing a transition {which only works in Internet Explorer anyway} could cause a load delay in your page. Forego the fancy here.
  • Controls? That's really up to you. I chose not to, but if you want the link party host to be able to see their button in your slideshow, then include it. But if you have a ton of buttons, it may be rather tedious for a host to scroll through your show.
Add Images
This is where your widget will come in handy. All your copy and paste skills will be needed here.  Copy and paste each buttons information {Image slide URL and blog's link URL} into the form and type in the blog's link party title, then click add.
Tips & Tricks:
  • The Slide URL in each segment of code is enclosed in quotes after img scr="..."
  • The Link URL in each segment of code is enclosed in quotes after href="...''
  • Scroll down past each segment of code to keep your place and avoid duplicate slides
  • Use keyboard shortcuts to make the task go faster
    • alt + tab to go back and forth between windows 
    • ctrl + c to copy
    • ctrl + v to paste
Generate Your Code
Once all of your images are safely added to your slideshow, just click generate!
Copy & Paste
Once you've got your code ready to go, just copy and paste it into your widget. If you're sure you've done it right, you can replace the code in the widget that's already open {this cannot be undone once saved}. My recommendation is to start a new HTML widget to plug the code into and test it out before deleting the long widget.
Making Modifications
After all the copying and pasting was done, I noticed some annoyances. First, because everyone sizes their buttons differently, some images got cut off. Second, because some images may have different heights, it moves my whole sidebar up and down each time it scrolls through...annoying! Third, I noticed that the slideshow was not centered on my widget which is also annoying.

These annoyances are easily fixed by making some minor modifications to the code. {insert courage here}. I will tackle each annoyance in order of difficulty {easy to difficult}.

To center the slideshow in the widget insert <center> to the very beginning, and </center> to the very end.
Notice how I gave myself some extra room at the top, and then tagged the closing code to the very end of the code.

To adjust the images to be all the same width, insert the width adjustment to the slideshow code.
Notice where I placed the addition. Look for the segment that starts with <!--slide show HTML-->. The width I chose was 175px {written exactly as, width="175px"}. Your width may be different, so adjust to your sidebar.
To keep the widget height from constantly adjusting, simply add this piece of code to the beginning.
Notice: I simply added it right after my center alignment code. The adjustment I made to the box is written exactly as <div style="height: 200px">. You may also need to adjust the number here to your liking.
Pat Yourself on the Back
You did it! Now you can sit back, smile and gawk at your new fancy schmancy slideshow! Observe:






I hope that this tutorial has helped you to de-clutter your sidebar. I'm no coding expert by any means, but I did what little I know and it worked for me. If there are any pro status techies out there, I'd love to know what other methods you have used to add a slideshow to your sidebar.

Did this tutorial give you some courage to take on this project for your blog? Do you use a different slideshow? Share!

5 DIY Projects for Renters

Although I don't hold the deed to our space {because we rent}, that doesn't mean that my heart doesn't long for DIY projects. I know that's probably the case for many of you other renters out there. Take heart, the DIYer in you can still be unleashed thanks to genius bloggers and the wonder that is Pinterest! I'm giving you a peek into my DIY Pinspiration board and pulling five great DIY projects for those DIYers trapped in a renter's space.
Safety First
Many rental communities offer fully updated central heating and air conditioning systems, that's the good news. The bad news is that those giant A/C units take up some of your courtyard space and could potentially be dangerous for kids and animals. Here's a pin that fixes that problem and adds a little bit of class to your courtyard without any major construction.
                                                                         Source: woodworkcity.com via Ferly on Pinterest
Storage Matters
Organizing and storage go together like peanut butter and jelly. I love this crib upcycle that not only brings much needed storage for those mountains of childrens' books, but it's nice and slim saving loads of precious rental space.
                                                                     Source: diyhshp.blogspot.com via Ferly on Pinterest

Garden Up Your Rental
One of my laments of renting is that I am not able to grow a garden {not that I have had any luck with the plants I bring home...it's the thought that counts}. With this DIY raised garden bed, you too can enjoy herbs and vegetables from your very own garden!
                                                                  Source: addicted2decorating.com via Ferly on Pinterest

Keeping Your Keepsakes
Just because you are renting a space doesn't mean that you have to forget about documenting your kid's milestones. I love this reclaimed wood painted growth chart that you can use as decor and travels well.
                                                                     Source: blog.silhouetteamerica.com via Ferly on Pinterest

Renters CAN Decorate
Not only am I a wanna be gardener, but I'm also a wanna be seamstress. I have mediocre sewing skills and don't own a sewing machine, but with this no sew project, I can fake 'til I make it!
                                                                              Source: cerniks.com via Ferly on Pinterest

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
I hope that this has sparked some inspiration for you renters out there. A space can feel like home even if you can't tear down walls or rip up carpet. Homeowners, you can also benefit from these simple and low maintenance DIY projects that make a big impact on your home and family, but little impact on construction.

If you like what you see, you should see more of what I have in my DIY board or follow all my boards on Pinterest!
Follow Me on Pinterest
Gifts come in many different forms from any number of sources. Just because you rent a space doesn't mean that you shouldn't make it feel like home. Making the most of what you have will grow a greater sense of contentment in your heart that overshadows the dreams of homeownership you may be working toward. A home is what you make of it, owned or rented.

Are there any other DIY projects that you renters have had a blast working on? What about you homeowners? What simple projects could you recommend to renters? Let's hear it!






Organizing Alone Time

There are some means to make our lives easier that are better than technology {whaat!?!}. Yes, I said it. What is this magical marvel I speak of that trumps even the latest and greatest technology? Solitude. I'll say it again. Solitude. Do not get it twisted with simply living alone or being lonely. The solitude that I speak of involves taking a step back, re-centering, replenishing and getting in touch with your soul. I finally cashed in on my Christmas present from the hubs yesterday and spent almost all of the day alone in solitude. It wasn't just having the day alone that made it such a rejuvenating day, but I went in with an organized plan to make the most of my alone time and got a few surprises along the way.

Warning: This is going to be long, so I hope you have some alone time. Get it? Alone time?
Deciding to be Alone
For me, it was one of those last minute decisions. An opportunity presented itself and it freed me up for a whole day. What was I going to do? I could use the day to catch up on chores, get ahead with blog posts, or take the day off {my hub-bub's suggestion}. My initial reaction to taking the day off was "Oooh yeah, take the day off and go to the spa, but...".

It's the buts that get in the way of solitude. Big buts. But there's laundry, the toilets need to be scrubbed, I haven't started any posts for this week, but, but, but. Ultimately God decided the day for me when we got a notice on our door saying that our building's water would be shut off for the day due to repairs. Ok God, I'll take the day off. After I finally surrendered to solitude, I needed to prepare myself.

Planning to be Alone

A whole day to myself! What was I going to do!?! The prospect haunted me all day long.
{Enter my inner dialog with God}
Me: Should I get my chores done today so I don't feel guilty about doing nothing tomorrow?
God: No. 
Me: Should I bring my iPad so I can do some blogging while I'm there?
God: No.
Me: What am I going to do?
God: Spend the day with me.
I couldn't just have the whole day to myself without organizing some sort of plan or preparing supplies {it's one of my gifts, remember?}. I looked on the spa's website to see what kind of things they had to offer.  If you're ever in Southern California and in need of pampering and solitude, I highly recommend Glen Ivy Hot Springs. After browsing the amenities, I decided to take an aqua aerobics class, book a massage, do some reading, and bring my beachy essentials.

Being Alone

I was quite happy with my plan for the day and was prepared to be at the spa from opening until closing. I planned very little interaction with any social media and was prepared to be disconnected from my electronics for most of the day.

My day started off great. I woke up feeling rested and excited. The sun peaked out of the cloudy morning gloom just as I was approaching the spa and I had a full day ahead of me...alone. I learned very quickly when you're alone it's just that.  You are utterly alone.

I passed several groups of women who were taking a spa day together and felt alone. I checked in, found a locker, got dressed, put on sun block, previewed the lunch menu, walked around the facility to familiarize myself with the grounds, all alone. I was a bit lonely, but I kept reminding myself that I needed this time alone. Enjoy yourself.

After getting over the initial shock of solitude, I got on with my day. I started in the steam room to get me to relax a little bit and found two women there together talking. I was the awkward loner who walked in on their conversation. I tried not to include myself in their conversation and just be. They finally had enough of the steam room and left me to it, when soon after that another woman walks in...alone. Ah. We talked for a few minutes and when I had enough steam for one day, I left to catch the aqua aerobics class.

The aerobics class helped me feel more in my element. I could be alone there and be fine. I wasn't the awkward loner. The class was a great way to break the ice of solitude for me. After that, my body was charged up, my mind was reeling and I was ready to plow ahead. I went along the rest of the morning enjoying being alone and taking care of my physical body.

Finding Company in Solitude

As lunchtime rolled around, I started to feel the all-alone-blues again, so I called my husband to tell him how my day was going and good ol' technology strikes. I get a notification that one of my dear friends also happens to be at the very same spa on the very same day! I am frantically calling and looking for her relieved that I won't have to spend the rest of the day by myself, only to find out she had already left and was on the way home. I conceded and thought, "Ok, God. I need to be alone today. I get it. It's fine. I am having a really great time. I don't need to be here with someone."

Then, I get a gift. A text message. She's on her way back! Yay!!!

Now, to really appreciate this gift, you have to understand the background to this divine appointment {not coincidence}. My friend is a member of the spa who had frozen her membership due to her recent pregnancy. Neither of us planned to be there that day until just the day before {and we are both crazy planners}. The day that she decided to go was the very last day she could go in order to keep her membership active. I had a gift card and could have picked any other day, ever. I hope you're tracking with me here. This was God's gift to me for the day.

We found each other finally and soaked up the sun, took in some suds and had a great time of connecting! Before long, it was time for my massage and time for her to really head back home. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Peace in the Solitude

There's nothing like a massage under an oak tree to get you feeling peaceful. By then, the day was almost done and all I had were a few more precious hours. I felt it was a great time to get my book and read under a nice gazebo in a rocking chair with my feet up. I am reading Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge, and spent a good hour sitting there reading, uninterrupted. It was the one time that the chapters dictated my reading time and not the clock. Gift!

I read to my heart's content and finally decided to call it a day. My physical body was fed, my social being was fed, and my soul was fed. It was a great day.
My day off was spent at the spa, but since I left, hoping for another day of alone time, I realize that solitude doesn't have to be spent at the spa in order to be beneficial. As you can see from the image at the beginning of the post, all you need is to disconnect for a day and find ways to feed your mind, body and soul. It could be in your backyard, at the local park, or even a library. If you're going to make a day of it, try going to all three! It will be much cheaper than a spa day I can tell you that. The point is, do not miss opportunities of solitude. As strange as it may feel at first, you will find that at the end, every part of you will be filled up and ready to pour back into your loved ones.

Have you experienced the peace in solitude? Do you feel guilty taking a day for yourself? Don't! Tell me what your plans are for organizing your own alone time.


Announcement: My 1st Bloggy Interview

I am humbled that the lovely Tanya over at The Fruitful Home has featured little ol' me on her blog today! Thanks Tanya!

Check out her blog and read the interview that I did for her. Get to know more about me, my blog work, and my bloggy goals in my very first bloggy interview! Be sure to hop over today and show some love!


Wallet Dividers & Printable

Have you heard of the cash envelope budgeting system? In our house, our fixed expenses like utility bills and insurance are paid for online. Flexible expenses like groceries, eating out, home goods, etc. are designated a certain amount of cash to sustain us until the next pay day. Using the cash envelope system is a great way to keep those variable expenses organized and in check from paycheck to paycheck. My problem is that all those envelopes can get too bulky for me. My wallet has enough in it, I don't need to try and stuff 4-8 envelopes full of cash in there too. Enter the semi-crafter in me! I will show you how I have modified cash envelopes into wallet dividers to save paper and precious wallet real estate.
Cash Envelope Inspiration
Before we get to my wallet divider, I want to show you some of the Pinspiration I came across in my search for a cute cash envelope.
{Note: Clicking on the image will take you to the image source}

This is a typical cash envelope system with a register.


This is the cutesy-crafty-fit-in-your-wallety version.

Modify and Simplify

I love the idea of keeping my cash categories handy in my wallet because I don't want to carry two different wallets around. And because I'm a sucker for compartments, my wallet already has a couple of different compartments to put money in! I needed something to simplify our system that was not only cute, but also allowed me to close my wallet using the cash system. This is where I decided to use slim dividers instead of bulky envelopes!  

Tutorial

This is super duper simple to do with the 2-page printable template that I am gifting to you. All you need to do is print, cut, tape and go! Let's get started!
Supplies needed:
    • Decorative cardstock {8.5 x 11"}
    • Scissors
    • Money
    • Tape or laminator
    • Fine Point Sharpie
Start with 2 sheets of decorative cardstock paper.  If you're using scrapbook paper, just trim 2 sheets down to letter size {8.5 x 11"} so it fits snug in your printer.

Print the template onto the back side of the cardstock.
{Important printing tip: Make sure the scaling on the printer is set to "None", for instance, scaling to"Fit on page" will change the size of the tabs and will be off compared to your dollar bills}
Page scaling settings to ensure proper wallet divider size
Print wallet divider onto back side of desired card stock paper
Cut along the solid black line.
Cut out wallet dividers
Test the size to make sure the money and dividers will fit into your wallet.  Trim if needed.
Test dividers against dollar bill and ensure proper fit in wallet
Tape the tabs {low budget} or laminate each divider page {pro status} for divider durability.
Tape tabs or laminate each divider page for durability
Label each tab with a budget category.  Another option is to put the budgeted amount on each tab to remember how much to allocate each pay day.
Label each tab with cash category
Place the dividers and cash in your wallet and smile! You're done!

Pin It!

For my pinning homies out there, here's a pin of this tutorial just for you!
 A Gift for You
I like to think outside of the box, or in this case, outside of the envelope. I just love using my new wallet dividers and I hope you will too!  This template is a 2 page document complete with supply list and instructions.
Download your gift!

There's nothing like making life {and budgeting} easier. With the economy being what it is, everyone needs to take a second or third or thirtieth look at their spending habits. Using a cash system is far from techy, but sometimes it's the old fashioned systems that are best because they have stood the test of time. What makes this even better is that it integrates right into your wallet without creating bulk. Gift, gift and gift!

Do you use a cash envelope system? Would wallet dividers help lessen the load on your wallet?  Are you curious to try out the cash system and implement the dividers for yourself?  Do tell!


Quick Techy Tip: Using White on Black for iPhone

Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep, often because I haven't done my nighttime routine. I like to pray and read a devotional before I catch my Z's each night. For those who are not familiar, a devotional is much like a blog post, but with a biblical twist. It takes a piece of scripture, examines it and relates it to our lives today, ending with practical application and prayer. The devotionals I read help me to look at my day's events, put them in perspective, and ultimately stirs up enough encouragement in me to push forward another day. It's a great way for me to end my day and if I forget to do it, my mind will usually race on for hours with all the things that need to be done tomorrow.

"What does this have to do with anything techy?" you might ask? Well of course I read my devotionals on my iPhone! And sometimes, the light from reading on my phone can be an irritant to the hubs. The Bible app I use has a low light setting {which I love}, but not all apps do, especially not the main app I use to read, Flipboard. Until that update comes, I need to be smarter than the machine. So I'm here with another quick techy tip to show you how I use the white on black feature of my iPhone to read my nighttime devotionals and keep from waking up my love-a-hub.

Playing with Accessibility
Did you know that your iPhone has an accessibility feature? These extra vision, hearing and gesture driven features are designed for users who have special accessibility needs, but that doesn't mean that others can't use these features as well. Below is a quick instructional on how to turn on the white on black feature:
Settings >> General >> Accessibility {toward the bottom} >> White on Black {switch to on}
Once you've done that everything on all aspects of your phone will be reversed.  It will look like you're looking at your iPhone through a negative which is a nice change of scenery, but remember the purpose of using this is to decrease the amount of light that you emit in a dark room.

Here's what my Flipboard looks like using white on black.
Reading on Flipboard using iPhone's white on black feature
 Not great for image heavy blogs, take a look at images on Flipboard.
Images display as negative using white on black for iPhone
Here's what my blog looks like on mobile Safari.
Website displayed using white on black for iPhone
About the only cute image I have found using the white on black feature is the charging lock screen.
Charging lock screen using white on black for iPhone
The gift to take away here is that if you're going to read something that is text heavy and want to play nice with your sleeping neighbors, white on black is the way to go.  I like it because it's not so bright on my eyes when I'm reading, and there isn't a shining beacon of light in the room.  Try it out one night and see how you like it.  Just remember that it is not optimum for image heavy reading and browsing.  Enjoy reading in the dark!

Do you use the white on black feature?  When do you use it?  I'd love for you to share in the comments!

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