Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring our service men and women

Today is a happy day because so many people have the day off, but I can't forget the day's meaning.

On Memorial Day, it is with both joy and sadness that we celebrate the lives of those who have gone before, some of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedom of many. We sing a song of praise for the fallen, and send a word of thanks to our members of the armed services. We salute the men and women, past and present, who have sacrificed for the freedom of everyone!

I previously posted this song on my blog, and thought it was fitting to repost it today. It made me a little sad for all of the men and women in the military who were away from their loved one.  It is such a beautiful song that I was inspired to find the lyrics and the video.

It’s 2 am and I can’t sleep,
been like this for me all week
we lost another good man yesterday
I close my eyes and say your name
it’s the only thing that keeps me sane
and think of you, half a world away
I fight the tears, it’s hard to live like this
lying here, there’s so much that I wish

That every child would know the taste of freedom
there are dreams still worth believing
that just might come true in the end
I want all these troubles far behind us,
better days to come and find us
and I just want to be in your arms again

It’s 6am, I need more sleep
it's been another hard long week
the kids are wearin’ me all but down
I close my eyes and say your name
it’s the only thing that keeps me sane
silence is such a lonely sound

Baby be safe, I know you've got a job to do,
keep the faith, and all the love I'm sending you

Let every child feel the taste of freedom,
that there are dreams still worth believin
that just might come true in the end
I want all these troubles far behind us,
better days to come and find us
and I just wanna be in your arms again

ohh whatever I may have to do,
nothing's gonna stop me coming back to you,
every stolen moment washed away, yaa,
I want all these troubles far behind us,
better days to come and find us,
I just wanna be in your arms again,
I just wanna be in your arms again, again, yaaaa

Hope everyone has a safe and blessed holiday.  Take care,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shipshewana is calling!!

There’s a Quilt Festival coming up in Shipshewana, and I plan to go.  And I’m hoping some of my internet friends will join me on what promises to be a fun day for all.  What’s the attraction?

  • A shop hop featuring 8 quilt shops in a 30 mile radius of Shipshewana
  • Two, count ‘em, 2, yes, I said two quilt shows.   You know how I am about quilt shows—I love ‘em!!  I went to one of the quilt shows last year, and blogged about it here.  It was a wonderful quilt show.
  • There is a Quilt Garden Tour going on in Northern Indiana.  They’ve planted many gardens in the shape of quilts or quilt blocks.  I plan to hit as many quilt garden spots along the route as we can fit in.  Here’s a site that did a story about the planting of the quilt gardens (the Quilt Garden Tour site may be having server problems.)
  • Lunch at Essenhaus, featuring good Amish food, a quilt shop and several other cute shops.
  • Shopping in the famous Shipshewana where we’ll find 4 of the quilt shops on the shop hop, the quilt show, and many other wonderful, quaint shops.
  • You can read more about the Shipshewana Quilt Festival 2010 here.  They also have several workshops with some pretty famous names, some book signings, etc.  The festival runs from June 23rd – June 26th.

So, here’s the plan (so far, but I’m open to suggestions).  I’m taking Friday, June 25th off from work to go to the events.  (I’ll need the weekend to recover from the trip).  I plan to map out the Shop Hop route along with the quilt shows and quilt gardens.  I would love to get a group to ride together, caravan, meet up along various spots on the route, and/or have lunch together.  I’d love to meet up with anyone who would like to go to any or all of the above events.   I think we’d have an awesome time!  If you are interested, please email me and let me know what part you are interested in doing or if you have any other ideas.  I can coordinate rides, where we can meet up, or other details of our fun adventure.

You know you want to go, so what are you waiting for?  Granny Lyn, Rhoda, Pam??  Other Michigan peeps?  Anyone from Ohio or Indiana?  Send me an email!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blogger’s Quilt Festival!

Thanks to Amy for sponsoring the Blogger’s Quilt Festival.  I know I will spend hours looking at all of your beautiful quilts, and hope that you will follow the link above.  It’s a lot of fun!   This is a quilt I finished a few months ago for my co-worker who is battling malignant melanoma.  She is currently struggling with her first round of chemo, which requires daily hospital visits for a month.  We are all praying for her.  

I used a soft apple green minky fabric for the back.  I took every precaution in prewashing and testing the permanent pens (note Sharpie markers are not 100% waterproof—thank goodness I found out before I tried to use them on the blocks).  I sprinkled the blocks with water and ironed them before I put the quilt together to make sure it wouldn’t bleed. I was disappointed to find that a few of the pens still bled into the fabric a bit during the final washing.  Here are some pictures of the quilt

Some close up pictures of the messages before it was quilted.  I was so glad I had gathered quotes from the internet as several people used them.  All of the messages were very inspiring!
Comfort quilt 012

Comfort quilt 013
Comfort quilt 017
Comfort quilt 020
Comfort quilt 011

Comfort quilt 027

Comfort quilt 008

Comfort quilt 006
Comfort quilt 019
Comfort quilt 038
Comfort quilt 037  
Comfort quilt 039
My co-worker made a beautiful tote bag, with lots of pockets, to put the quilt in.  We filled the tote with small books of crossword puzzles, email jokes, candy, gum, hand lotion, lip balm, tissue, a water bottle, and a card signed by everyone.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blog Layout 101

I’m not an expert, but for those new to blogging from MQB, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way about the layout of your blog.  Changing the look of your blog is easy.  It takes longer to find the right look than it does to change your blog. 

Blog design sources
When you are reading the blogs that you follow and find a blog layout that you like, look up in the upper left corner of the blog.  If that blogger has not done any custom design, you will often see the name of a website designer in the corner.  Below are several websites with free blog designs.  (this one is in Spanish, but use the pictures to find what you want and copy/paste the code)

You can find more by Googling “blogger templates”   You are looking for something that says “free blogger backgrounds or free blogger templates”

To change the look of your blog, go to your blog Layout, and click on Pick New Template.  There are several to choose from.  Most of the free blog templates tell you to use the “Minima” template.  I’ve found that many of the blog designs will also work with the “Rounders” template, which is the template that I use.  I prefer this template for one main reason, and that is for the background of the text.  You’ll notice that many of the free templates have various designs or colors in the middle of the design.  Personally, I sometimes find it difficult to read a blog with pictures or other items running through the part that I need to read.  With the Rounders template, I get the look I want on both sides of the blog, but the middle of the blog is opaque, and so you don’t see the full blog template background.  I then change the colors on my template to match the sides of the blog.  If you do use a blog template with a background, make sure that you change the colors of the blog text so it is easy to read.

After you have picked your blog template, go to the page elements on the Layout tab.  You’ll see several sections to the blog layout. 

Header and Blog Post
Click on “edit” in the header section.  This is where you enter the name of your blog and a description about you and your blog.  You can also upload any picture and it will show at the top of your blog.  The picture of Redford that is currently on my blog is 800 x 600, which is a good size for a picture.  You don't want too big of a picture, and a much smaller picture will not fill the entire header area.  I checked the box, “shrink to fit” and I selected to have the picture behind the blog title.  Save it and click on view blog to see the results.  If you don’t like the picture, remove the picture and try again with another picture.  Also click on edit in the Blog Post section and check out your options there.

Gadgets are the way to add pictures, buttons, pretty blog templates, and just plain cool stuff!  Click on add gadget, and it will take you to a window with all kinds of choices.  Look around and see some of the cool gadgets that you can add to your blog.  You can add a picture, or a list of some sort like a UFO list or book list by clicking the + button next to the item.  Click the features or popular button in the upper left corner to see more gadgets.

Usually, when you add a template or button from another blog, you are going to use the choice of HTML/Java Script.  Don’t worry about technical computer language.  Most of the time you are just cutting and pasting script that someone else has already done.  Click the plus button next to this choice, and it will open up a box where you put your script.  You can give it a title (that will show up on your blog).  I don’t put a title on the blogger templates, and I usually drag them to the bottom of my gadgets so I know that the last gadget is my template.  Go to the free template site, find the template you want (I use the 2 column templates).  Underneath the template will be the code.  Highlight and copy (CTRL C) all of the code, and then go to your gadget layout box and paste (CTRL V) the code in the box, and then save and view your blog.  There are also usually instructions on the free blog template site on how to do this.  Read each site’s instructions for using their template—they are usually the same process, but some are slightly different.  Also, look around the sites for blog headers too.  If you don’t like what you did, just delete the gadget and try again! 

Fonts and Colors
Go to this section after you have your template and change the various colors of your background, header, side text, etc.  I usually change this up when I load a new template, especially if you go from a lighter color to a darker color template.  You want to make the blog easy on the eyes.  Some of us have “older eyes” than others, and a light background with dark text is usually easier to read than a dark background with light text.

Moving things around
Click and drag your gadgets up or down to get them where you want them.  You can check out to see how Molly dragged her “followers” to the top of her blog or check out Shirley's. cute blog.  Go ahead, play around.  You can’t hurt it.  Anything you do to the look of your blog can be changed back, and it won’t hurt your blog post.

Most of the sites do caution you to save a copy of your template before you make changes.  You can do this in the Edit HTML tab by clicking the download full template button.  That is mainly if you are going to fool with the code, which I don't recommend unless you know what you are doing..  If you are new to templates and don’t have any special programming, you can always just go back to the Pick New Template tab and select a new one.  Your font and colors may go away, but those are easy to restore.

There are some websites out there that will help you design a blog header.  I played around with one several months ago, and you can read about it here.

Well, I hope this gives you some help on making your blog pretty.  Do be careful, though, not to load too much on your blog as it will bog it down and take longer to load.  I expect to see some new blog layouts, and if you leave me a comment, make sure your email is set up so I can reply to you.  Send me an email if you have questions.  If some of you more experienced bloggers have more tips, feel free to leave more hints in the comments section.

One more tip.  The CTRL button is a very useful tool.  If you hold down the CTRL button while clicking on a link, it will open up the link in another window.  I use this all of the time so I can go back and forth between 2 or more windows.

Take care,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blogging Tips for MQB bloggers

With the closing  of MyQuiltBlog, I know that several MQB bloggers are new to Blogger, and could use some help.  I’ve put together a few tips of some of the things I’ve learned about Blogger.  Hope this helps!

We all love to see your pictures.  If you are having trouble with inserting pictures into Blogger, go to Settings, Basic and find the setting “Select post editor”.  Make sure you select  “updated editor”.  The “old editor” was the source of many frustrations with blogger.  Add pictures the same way you did in MQB.  Upload from your computer or use a URL from a photo you’ve uploaded to Flickr, Photoucket, Webshots, etc.  Just click on insert image icon and upload your photo or URL.  If you upload your photo to Blogger, it stores the photo in Picassa.  Drag the photo to where you want it to appear in your blog.  Click on the photo to see some choices for sizes, centering, etc.

Moving your Blog Posts
If you want to move your blog posts from MQB to Blogger, it is fairly easy.  However, your pictures won’t move with the post.  So, you’ll have to re-add them to Blogger.  To move your blog, open MQB and open the Blogger new post screen in a 2nd window.  Highlight your post in MQB, hold down the CTRL key with the letter C (or use copy) and go to the Blogger post screen and place your cursor in the edit screen and hit CTRL V (or paste)

Personally, I think Blogger is a bit limiting with its’ fonts, font sizes, and picture handling.  I love, love, love using my Windows Live Writer for writing my blogs offline (it’s a free download).  I insert photos exactly where I need to see them, a preview shows what it will look like on my blog, and there are lots of fonts and other editing options that Blogger doesn’t offer.  I wrote about this last year, and you can read more about it here.  I also like the way it handles links—it opens the link in a new window so it is easier to come back to my blog to finish reading it. 

We all love to get comments and want to encourage comments.  Some blogs have comment moderation set so that you don’t see the comments until they are approved.  Others have word verification set for their comments to prevent spammers from commenting.  For me, I prefer to have no word verification and let the user see their comments immediately.  I’ve never had a problem, and figure if I do start having problems, I can always go back to verification.  If you don’t want to have your readers enter the word verification when they make a comment, go to Settings, Comments, and check no for word verification.  Also make sure that “anyone” can comment.  Look at some of the other settings while you are there to see what else you might want to change.

If you don't want any comments on a particular post, you can click post options at the bottom of your post to change the setting for that post.  You can also schedule your post to publish at at specific time.  This is also in post options.

While you’re in the comments settings, I encourage you to use Comment notification email.  This sends you an email whenever someone leaves a comment on your blog.  If the commenter has their email set up on their blog, you can send them an email response to their comment.  I love this feature!  It adds a whole new way to connect to your readers.  You should, however, check the email address before you respond.  Just watch for email addresses that say “noreply-comment@blogger”.  I can’t tell you how many times I sent off a response to someone who left a comment and my response went off into space.  It took me a while to figure that one out!!   

On your dashboard, you will see a place to Edit your profile.  In there is a box to check for showing your email address.  I highly recommend you check this box. When other bloggers have giveaways on their blogs, they use this to contact you if you have won.   This also lets them help with a question you may have left in a comment, and to respond to a comment you have made on their blog.  If you’re not comfortable giving our your email address, set up a new Gmail or Yahoo email just for this purpose.  Just be sure to check your email.  Also in your profile if you check the box to show the blogs you follow, others will be able to see the blogs you read.  This is a very good way for former MQB bloggers to find some of the “old gang”. Just look and see who others are following or who their followers are.  You’ll find them. Also, make sure you put a picture in your profile.  It makes it easier to identify you in your comments and as a follower.

Google Reader
When I discovered Google Reader, I thought it was the greatest tool for reading blogs.  That usually where I read most blogs because they load faster, and I can read the blogs quicker.  One irritation I have, however, is that some bloggers have their site settings so that you only see part of their blog, and then you have to visit their blog to see the rest of the post.  I must confess that there are many times when I skip those blog posts rather then click through to the blog.  If you want your reader to be able to see your full blog in the Reader, go to Settings, Site Feed, and make sure your Allow Blog Feeds setting says “Full”.  Amy from Amy's Creative Side has a great tip for easier blog reading that lets you use the Next button to go from one blog to another.  You can read about it here

That’s all for today.  Don't be afraid to play around with the settings on your blog.  You can't hurt anything and can always change the settings.  Hope you found some useful tips here.  In the next few days, I’ll put together another blog post on blog layout and changing up your blog to make it pretty.  It will give me a good excuse to change my blog layout.

Welcome again, new MQB bloggers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cat TV

Every couple of years, a robin decides to build a next on the light fixture above our front door.  Mama robin always gets peeved every time we drive in the yard and go anywhere near the front door.  This year, it is providing endless entertainment for the “boys”, especially since their screen porch playground is closed for renovation.  They sit there and chatter at the robin, who is not too happy about the company.  This weekend, several small mouths started popping up over the top of the nest, and worms are dangling from mama robin’s mouth.  It was a little too dark to get a picture of the nest today, but we did manage to get this picture of one very interested Redford cat watching his “cat TV”.

Bird watching

“I’m going to get you little birdies!”

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dexter Quilt Show

First, I want to thank everyone for their well wishes on my health.  The shingles rash is healing with the help of some steroids, although the hot flashes from the steroids are still working overtime.

It was a humid, rainy weekend.  Perfect for going to a quilt show or two.  Mom and I went to the quilt show in Dexter on Saturday and enjoyed our lunch in a nice smoke-free bar (thanks to the new Michigan law banning smoking in restaurants that went into effect on Saturday).  Although I love going to quilt shows, and appreciate the amount of work that goes into putting one together, I have to say that quilt shows in churches are not my favorite venue.  I prefer to see the full size quilts, and be able to look at them up close rather than having them draped over church pews that you have to view from the aisle in rather dim lighting.  This show was more about older quilts, and had a collection of older Sunbonnet Sue quilts.  There was also an exhibition of someone who must have been a treasured member of the guild or church who had several beautiful quilts that were all hand made.

  This was one of them, apparently the quilter’s first quilt!!

Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 018

This was another one, in the most beautiful shade of soft yellow

Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 027

This one was cute, an entire quilt made about weight loss
Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 024  

Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 022
Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 023

Sunbonnet Sue
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Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 019
I love the typical Amish colors in this one
Dexter & Midland quilt show 2010 025

I did make it to the Midland quilt show, so I’ll get those pictures in the next blog.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.