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How I make myself happy

I start by making the kids coffeecake for breakfast.


But then…. and here’s the tricky part… instead of using a plastic cereal bowl and fork to mix up the crumble topping, I break out my old robin’s egg blue pyrex mixing bowl. And the pastry cutter with the red wooden handle. And then halfway through the mixing I place them on my rickety step stool with the slipcover I’ve made to match the kitchen curtains, and then I step back to admire the effect.

And then I run and get my camera so that I can share it all with you.

Sharing the love, that’s what I’m talking ’bout. Yup.

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Something new, something old

Hey gals, check out this adorable new blogger I discovered…

You’re gonna love her… I promise.

But probably not quite as much as I do.
Well, definitely not as much as I do.
But you’ll love her. Oh yeah

 And don’t forget to leave her a comment while you’re there, cuz that’d totes make her day.

In other news, my vintage Christmas giveaway is open for one more day, so don’t forget to skedaddle on over there and enter. Seriously… I want to hear about your family traditions!

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See you on t’other side!

The indefatigable Gretchen and I are nearing the end of our preparations for the Big Blog Switcheroo… just a few loose ends to tie up today, then we’ll be skyping our way through the transfer tomorrow and on Monday when you come a’visiting, you’ll be automatically bustled right along to the new site! I’m having a blog-warming party and guess who’s invited?

Yes, you
the cute little one right there on the other side of the computer screen.
Can’t wait to see ya there, my darlings.

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Apparently they start out small.

So the chicks have all grown, settled down and are making their best albeit futile, attempt at repopulating the earth… behold, the darling little egg Louisa brought me! And behold further at its lovely pale blue-y green-y shade!

This makes me happy. Oh yes it does.

In other news, my bloggy move chore of the day is refining my category labels and descriptions, and writing introductory sentences for same. The good news is that I can work on these chores away from the computer, say for example while I am waiting for the children at piano lessons. The bad news is that Mr. And Mrs Mayne are very charming folk and very interesting conversationalists, and I being the highly distractable sort of gal such as I am, am quite likely to choose to engage in pleasant conversation rather than the aforementioned bloggy chore of the day. Oh my.

But first, I must finish up yesterday’s bloggy chore, which sadly, but not unexpectedly, didn’t get finished yesterday. Oh my, indeed!

Prayers and warm wishes are, as always, much appreciated.
And chocolate! Chocolate is always good.

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Such goings-on!

Well girls, we’re planning a move! This upcoming weekend as a matter of fact… and I’ve barely even begun to pack.

Well, packing isn’t really necessary I don’t think- not for this kind of move. I won’t be moving house, but I will be moving blog. Yep, one week from today Tomato Soup Cake will be at its own little bright spanking new digs with a fresh new coat of paint. Everything’s going to be all just-moved-in organized, and spic’n'span. Why, we’ll even have new spaces for the kids and… well, I don’t want to give too much away, now do I?

Thankfully I have a new BFF, Gretchen of From the Little Pink House who is doing most of the heavy-blog-moving lifting, which is a very good thing since I don’t know Apache from an Applet or HTML from a hotlink. Strictly a point and click gal, that’s what I yam. yup.

Thank you, God, for Gretchen.
Please abound her in patience and good humor…
cuz you know she’ll need it before this move is done.
Amen and ay-men.

Anyhoo, the daring and intrepid Gretchen has given me my own list of things I need to do, snippets I need to write, posts I need to tag and sort into label categories, graphics I need to find or make or choose. Frankly, it’s all gotten a bit overwhelming for me and I admit I’ve done what any other sensible, diligent woman of mature years would do… specifically, waste my online minutes watching cute baby videos on Youtube and eating chocolate to assuage my guilt.

So yeah… no more of that for me! This week this gal’s gonna be all business! Every day I am gonna polish off at least one task from that list. No more cute baby videos, and only small amounts of chocolate until I’m done. Every morning I’ll be posting my task or list du jour, and I’ll check into the comments at the end of the day, to let you know how I did.Yep, it’s nose to the grindstone time for me.

Today’s task is to tackle my mountain of untagged and uncategorized posts… get them all sorted and labelled, and basically take care of four years worth of lazy-bloggy-housekeeping. Today. O my.

HELP PLEASE. Seriously, I need your help.
Prayers, warm wishes, virtual hugs… chocolate.
Links to pictures of chocolate, for cryin’ out loud.
You girls’ve got my back, right?

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Relevant Epilogue

For my other Relevant Conference related posts go here, and here, and here… and if you’re really a glutton for punishment, you can finish up here.

One of the very best things about the Relevant Conference was all of the great stuff I came home with: books, keychains, totebags, jewelry, homeschool resources… I have yet to mine the depths of it all. Oh my goodness, I’m savoring every last little scrappy thing! My fave so far has been our complimentary download of Laura Booz’ fantastic ebook, Blogger Behave. This little book has taken the renewed vision I have for my blog and given it feet… and typing fingers!

Go on over there, buy yourself a copy and read it this afternoon.
It’ll be some of the best $4.99 you’ve ever spent.

Laura took this a step further with her recent series, Social Media Behave at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee. In this series, she shared her thoughts on all of this intoxicatingly fun social media stuff, facebook, twitter, tumblr, and a bazillion other platforms I’ve never even heard of, which now that I think of it is probably a good thing. yeah. She shared her mindset for keeping it all in its neat little place and balancing it with.. well, with the rest of life! She ended up by challenging us to write our own manifesto; a public statement of our philosophy and goals regarding blogging/social media. Speaking publicly gives us accountability, she said. Mainly because it’s just plain embarrassing to break one’s own rules, especially when you’ve made such a big honkin’ deal about ‘em.

So here goes! My rules, my manifesto, my personal social media guard rails -so to speak:

1. God gets first place.
Practically, this means that Bible reading, prayer and study/meditation is the first thing I do every morning after prepping my coffee, that is. Let’s be realistic, okay? I’ll pray before I start writing and pray again before I hit PUBLISH.

2. Family and home are next in line.
All of the following must be taken care of before the computer gets turned on in the morning:
~Quiet time (see above,)
~Breakfast lined up (not completely prepared, but organized and well on the way to completion.)
~Children’s schoolwork organized for the day (assignments written down, worksheets printed out, books and materials located and placed in school area.)
~All posts for the following week must be set up by the end of my online day on Saturday. If only two posts are written, only two posts go up!

3. I will not allow blogging/social media to take more than its fair share of my time.
Specifically, this means I will schedule my online time.
~Weekdays, 6-7:30 AM, 1/2 hour after lunch and an additional 1/2 hour (to be divided up as desired throughout the afternoon and evening.
~Friday evening and Saturday mornings, as much as desired, but computer must be off once the children come home from daddy’s.

4. I will use my online time efficiently.
Before turning on the computer I will make a prioritized list of my tasks du jour -and then pray like the dickens I can stick to it.

5. I will ask for accountability.
The kids know my schedule and have been given permission to nag me mercilessly should I transgress. And now you know my schedule and I’m hoping you’ll hold me accountable as well. If you see me on Facebook in the middle of the morning, go ahead, call me out! If you see me hanging out on message boards responding to thread after thread and having a jolly ole time, feel free to bring up that prioritized list I was talking about in point number 4. OH MY.

So yeah, consider this your license to nag.

But have mercy, okeedokey?

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Five Minute Friday: Tired

Last week was so much fun, I just had to do this meme again!
The Gypsy Mama invites everyone to join her on Friday mornings as she “stops, drops, and writes” for 5 straight minutes. No editing. No over thinking. No backtracking. No worrying if it’s just right or not.
Ready. Set.

1… 2… 3… Here I go!

The writing prompt today is..

—– my mind is a blank.

Maybe I’ll write about….ummm… nah. That’d be just stupid.

Okay, so maybe I’ll tell you about the time…. wait, I think that might be a bit embarrassing.

Got it! This one’s not stupid or embarrassing! I’m gonna talk about….. no. Nah. NONONONO. Too boring. Even for me.

Awww… forget it. It’s too early to write. I’m too tired.

And you want to know the really pathetic thing?
This took me over ten minutes to write!
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Relevant 11, Post #4 (Otherwise entitled: Sweet spot)

Start at the very beginning… it’s a very good place to start! Post number one in this series is HERE, number two is HERE, and number three is HERE.

Tsh Oxenreider always wanted to live abroad. She and her husband planned for it and dreamed about it before they were even married. It was no surprise to anyone when the young couple made it their goal to serve overseas and, when their young family settled into their new home on the other side of the world, it was just what everyone expected. Tsh expected to be in her element… and so it was a bit of a surprise when she found herself becoming depressed. And as the months went on, she became increasingly weary and sad. Now, Tsh is a sensible sort of gal, one can see that within a second or two of meeting her, so she and her husband sought help. They spent some time away and she got some counseling and when she came back to that home on the other side of the world, she decided to do something different. Something creative. She started a blog called Simple Mom.

She loved it. And she was, quite obviously, very good at it. Tsh was in her element.

If you’re lucky, or you’re blessed, at some point you’ll stumble across or be guided to that place where your skills and passions intersect. You’ll find that activity that brings out the very best you have to offer. You’ll find just what it is that makes your heart sing and gives you that I-was-made-for-this feeling. Some people find their element in grand and glorious things like writing symphonies and creating vaccines that save millions of children from certain death. Lots of folks find theirs in worthy and honorable things like changing diapers or fixing cars or growing vegetables. Some of us find ours in silly little things, unimportant things, things that might sometimes seem like a waste of time… things like blogging.

If you’re lucky, if you’re blessed, you’ll find your sweet spot. Tsh found hers in blogging, and as I listened to her I realized that blogging was my sweet spot too. And I began to think that maybe this blog isn’t just a little bit of nothing I do for myself. Maybe it’s a not-so-little bit of something I do.. well yeah, for myself, but also for you, my dear readers. Maybe it’s a little bit of something He can use. Maybe.

Wow. Quite the concept, huh?

When I went to Relevant, I expected to feel pressured to grow my blog, increase my stats, broaden my influence. But a funny thing happened once I got there… in every session and in every interaction, I was gently encouraged to be content. Content with a small blog, in a small niche with a small readership. I was encouraged to make my small thing the very best I can, and put out the best I have to offer. Encouraged to feed those who come to my table, and to trust that He will bring folks here who can benefit from what I have to share.

So instead of coming away from Relevant fired up, full of new ideas and firm with resolve, I came home cooled down. Calmed down. And firm with resolve to simply…

cook a nice meal,
set a pretty table,
feed who comes.

I can do. O yes, I can.

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I got so distracted, not that I’m usually distractable or anything like that, by the turkey and the tomato soup cake and Beth’s great pumpkin pie it’s a layered dontcha know and Nana’s amazing stuffing….

O be still my heart….

Anyway I got so distracted by all that and the cups of coffee in my mother’s little fiestaware cups and the after dinner chatter that lasted until nigh about supper time, but hey’s who’s hungry for supper anyway? and my terribly handsome nephews…

O be still my heart…

So yeah. I got a little distracted, collapsed into bed wayay too late and then slept wayayay too late this morning. And I neglected to take the time to finish up that final Relevant post…. you know, the one I promised you?

So yeah…. sorry about that. How ’bout we try for Monday morning?

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Relevant 11, Post #3 (Otherwise entitled: Sometimes I’m clueless)

Start at the very beginning… it’s a very good place to start! Post number one in this series is HERE, and el puesto numero dos esta AQUI.

I admit it. I felt like a bit of a fraud when I walked into the Sheraton that Thursday afternoon. I wasn’t even sure I should be blogging for heaven’s sake. And let’s face it, as I looked at all the professional, competent women around me, I knew I was completely out of my league. I had barely posted a thing for months on end. My stats were plummeting, which, in case you didn’t know, is what happens when you barely post a thing for months on end. I didn’t know the first thing about SEO, or monetizing and for the life of me I couldn’t understand Twitter. I don’t have a smartphone, heck I had never even seen a smartphone* before.

But I soon found out that those professional competent women were also warm and friendly…. and excited! They were happy to meet me, they said and they seemed genuinely thrilled with the little felt business card holders we’d made…

or at least they were gracious enough to feign a thrilled state, which was nice.
I surely do like that quality in a girl, mmhmm.

Our hotel room was beautiful, my roommates (neither of whom had smartphones either) were positively darling and they even brought their babies along. Which I thought was an especially considerate gesture, since yanno, I had to leave my own personal babies at home.

Now, it may not surprise you to hear that smartphones and Twitter weren’t the only things I was clueless about heading into this conference. I also was completely unaware of Who’s Who in the World of Big Blogging. Foolishly, I’d neglected all of the preconference goings-on over at the Relevant website. I barely even knew the names of the conference leaders and speakers, much less how impressive and accomplished they are. But oh, my goodness… best-selling authors, homeschooling pioneers, compelling bloggers with huge followings. Why, it could make a gal feel downright unaccomplished and tiny being in the midst of such Biggies, O yes it could. However, I’ve noticed that when one is unaccomplished and tiny, it tends to make things very easy. You see, when you’re tiny, you just look up to everyone. Easy peasy. No fuss, no muss. Kinda like…

You’re here? You’re awesome! Wow.

So yeah, I happily muddled along talking to this older grandma and that young girl. I spent the most delightful coupla hours with my beloved old bloggy friend Becks and my beloved-old-friend-of-the-future Deanna. I had dinner with this lovely lady and spent most of my time admiring her beautiful baby girl. I struck up a conversation with this even-more-beautiful-in-person and offered her one of my business card holders. The very first night I sat across the table from this adorable little thing. I kept trying to start up a conversation with her because I thought she looked lonesome. Little did I know she was one of the speakers (and possessor of a great theological mind) and was just gathering her (probably great theological) thoughts, which I imagine is kinda hard to do when some person you’ve never met is pestering you to pass the salt. And the salad dressing. And, and, and…

…I am so not a networker. sigh.

Photo credit to Darcy of Life With My 3 Boybarians

So when this gal got up to speak, in her cute little jeans and cotton top, I just plain didn’t know enough to be impressed.

Tune in Friday morning, same time, same place for the final installment in this gripping tale of high adventure and derring do… aka Relevant 11, Post#4

*I now want a smartphone.

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