Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Decor 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- Halloween!
For 2016, our outside Halloween decor covers more ground, literally. Over the summer, my front lawn got a DIY drought tolerance makeover; we ripped out much of the grass and replaced it with bark. The new drought-friendly bark allowed us to turn the entire yard into a cemetery; two cemeteries to be exact.

Take a tour of a haunted Halloween decor.

I did a twist on my popular Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington garage. He's feeling a little red this year. I used Duck Tape and poster board (99 Cent Store FTW) that I had on hand. I plan on leaving him up through Christmas.

Our pet sematary is a nod to the Ramones and Stephen King, naturally. 
The flying Halloween monster is always a hit with the trick-or-treaters.

The pet sematary is across from the larger, human cemetery. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Troubleshooting the Apply Changes Error on Blogger's Template

Did your blog on blogspot.com stop accepting updates to the template? Has it been driving you insane? Have you tried the help board, read different blogs and watched YouTube for help?

If so, I was you.

Months ago, I decided to change the format of my blog to the Dynamic Views template. I changed the template, no problem. But then I wanted to customize it. And after making my customizations (such as increasing the blog's font size) and clicking "Apply to Blog" nothing would happen. So I decided to change to a different blogger template -- the other formats allow you to run more ads, anyway -- and again, I'd click "Apply to Blog" and nada.

I read all of the tips.
-- One blog suggested turning on the mobile template. Of course mine was already on.
-- A second blog offered directions on how to get your blog back to the factory settings, so to speak, but I couldn't get *any* changes to take within the Blogger system.
--Another blog said to go into "Edit HTML" and "Revert widget templates to default." To which Blogger.com said nope, not gonna happen, here's an error message with a linkable error code that goes to a nearly blank page when you click it.

But while in "Edit HTML" I found my answer. I hope it works for you, too.

Step by Step Solution

 1. Go to "Template."

2. Click "Edit HTML" located under Live on Blog.

3. Click "Preview template."

Does an error show up referencing AdSense1? If so, go to the next step to fix it. If not, sorry, my solution is probably not your solution.

4. Click "Jump to Widget" and on the pull-down menu, select AdSense1.

5. Delete all AdSense1 codes. (Start is <b:widget id='Adense1' ... > End is </b:widget>)

6. Click "Preview template."

If AdSense was mucking up your code, you should be able to properly preview your blog now.

7. Click "Save template" to save the removal of the AdSense1 widgets.

Now **hopefully** you can apply changes once again to your Blogspot.com blog template.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Outdoor Decorating with Chalk and Fabric Flowers

There's a reason our nicknames are Lauraroni & Aaroncheese; we're the cheesiest.

I laugh at my husband's cheesy jokes. I coax my husband into indulging in cheesy, sappy movies with me. And I like cheesy gifts.

This is why I've held onto my collection of fabric, bendable flowers gifted from my husband.

It all started when we were first dating in the summer of 2004. We went thrifting and Aaron found a fabric flower. Naturally, he bought it for me. He said it was the first flower he'd ever bought a girl. I loved it.That silly little flower made 20-year-old me smile.

On a later thrifting trip, another flower was found. And so began the tradition of Aaron buying me fabric flowers.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I Can Do All Things ... With a Forced Smile

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~ Philippians 4:13

Whether you're Christian or not, you've probably seen this Bible verse used as an inspirational meme on your Facebook page. Just about everyone (save for maybe Two Corinthians walk into a bar Trump) has heard it, seen it.

Your reaction to it probably depends on whether you're a person of Christian faith of not. It may inspire hope if you fall on the Christian side or perhaps an eye roll if you don't.

It's actually a little of both for me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Let It Go: Accepting the Things I Cannot Change

My version of a selfie on my 32nd birthday.
Yesterday I turned 32. I look nowhere near my age, but I think at least now it's less likely I'll be mistaken for a high school student. It wouldn't surprise me to be mistaken for a college student.

It's happened before.

True story: Several years ago, I was writing a profile on a couple of smarty pants kids and this week of the brain they had created at their school. So I went to the elementary school to cover it. The kids' mom knew I was coming. I clearly introduced myself as the freelance writer from Sacramento Parent Magazine, and yet -- and I'm taking an educated guess here -- because of my baby face and little girl voice, she immediately pegged me for one of the student volunteers from Sac State.


But such is my life. It's one of the realities I've come to accept. I can't change my voice. I can dress professionally and wear makeup, but that only goes so far. I just have to suck it up and deal.

I don't always deal so well with things that are out of my control. It's something I've struggled with my whole life. I'm not a Type A Personality, but boy do I share some of those characteristics. I'm also incredibly self aware, so I recognize when I'm probably coming off condescending and when I'm being emotional. There's nothing like acknowledging that you're having an emotional reaction to dampen the fun of actually giving into your emotions.

I am a logical, intelligent, organized, educated and informed woman, and life would be so much easier if everyone could just be a little more like me. But since that's not going to happen, I know what will make life a little stressful.

Lord, in my 32nd year, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Simplified New Year's Resolutions 2016

2016 is going to be a productive year. I can feel it. And I'm going to make it happen. Last year I made 10 New Year's resolutions, but this year, I'm keeping it simple. I'm starting with just three.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Final 2015 New Year's Resolutions Reflections

I had a plan. I was going to check in on my last five 2015 New Year's Resolutions right after New
Year's day 2016. But like so many winter holidays before, I got sick from all the Christmas festivities. My immune system just doesn't handle all that leaving the house. Then I spent days thinking, "I should really blog on my resolutions," followed by, "Ugh, that's too much work. A nap sounds much better."

But I'm finally well, work deadlines achieved, laundry caught up, office cleaned for the new year; I have no more excuses.

Here's my final accountability report. Look back at 1 (walk more) 2 (read more) 3-5 (blog, beautify, give more)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DIY Tile Crafts: How to Make Scrabble Ornaments and Scrabble Pictures

Things I learned this holiday season: People hang onto their Scrabble games and get rid of brand new, unopened Glee and Twilight games.

At least that's what I found to be true at multiple thrift stores in Sacramento.

When I decided to make Scrabble crafts for Christmas presents, I figured it would be easy to find an old Scrabble game at one of the many thrift stores I frequent. How wrong I was. I found lots of sad looking Scrabble Jr. games, but no actual Scrabble. In the end, I bought a new Scrabble game, paid for mainly with Shop Your Way points, so I still got a good deal.

For my first Christmas craft, I made my mom a decorative picture, turning the Scrabble tiles into crosses.

I used Super Glue to secure the letters into the cross shape. I immediately discovered that the glue bled onto front of the tiles, darkening parts of the light wood color. To remedy this, after gluing, I used a light peach nail polish to coat the tiles for a more uniform color.

For the picture, I searched free images and then did a little editing to make this particular sky image fit my vision. I printed it onto card stock.

Hot glue provided a quick way to affix the crosses to the card stock.

To fit the finished picture into the frame, I had to remove the glass. I could have purchased a shadow box instead of this frame from Kohl's, but I like that the letters pop from the sky and add dimension to the decor piece.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blogging, Beautifying and Giving: New Year's Resolutions Realized

As the year comes to a close, I'm checking in with the New Year's resolutions I set for myself. I've already made my Get Fit! goal, and I'm sadly behind on my 20-book goal; however, since my last update, I finished two more books: All the Light We Cannot See and The Color Purple, bringing this year's tally to a paltry 13 books. At this point, I'm aiming for 15 finished books, but hoping for more.

Those were Resolutions 1 and 2; here's 3, 4 and 5.

3. Blog more: My blog has been a little quiet lately, but I did succeed in blogging more, just not as often as I should. Still, thanks to my most popular posts, I get a steady stream of visitors and the money continues to trickle in. My crafty Halloween posts really drive traffic, so that only motivates me more to create more for next year. Plus, I just love having such a festive, popular house for trick-or-treaters.

4. Beautify more: My skin is happy to report I've put a little more effort into beautifying this year. I tried these cruelty-free products to mixed results.
  •  The Yes to Cucumbers line left me with one of the worst reactions I've ever had to a beauty product: burning, swollen, red skin.
  • On the flip side, I've come to love Burt's Bees Sensitive Skin line of products. I use the face wash and moisturizing night cream and found the products at 30% off through Target's Cartwheel app. Sweet!
  • I also rediscovered Sally Hansen's facial hair remover cream, which is the absolute best. It doesn't burn, it doesn't stink, and it works in one quick application. It's pretty much the opposite of Nair, at least for my skin and hair. 
5. Give more: My soul is joyful to share that I got a little more involved in my community this year and gave of my time, in addition to the money and goods I always give. Again, my husband I prefer to do charity privately, but I can share a few of the ways I gave back. 
  • I helped collect donations for the Butte Fire victims. After socializing the event and improving the donation database, I was able to stuff my Mustang full of requested items and had so much to donate that the volunteers at the donation site thought my husband and I were with a specific organization rather than just two individuals. That felt great.
  • I also got down in the mud (yes there was mud in the middle of the hot, Sacramento drought, go figure) and helped clean up Rusch Park with other volunteers from my mom's church. 
  • Finally, thanks to our friends Elena and Sam, we were able to help out more needy pets through their dog food donation. Passing out dog food to homeless pet owners is something Aaron and I have done for years, but we don't always have the extra dog food on hand to help. I believe we passed out more baggies of dog food in 2015 than ever before.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Reading Resolution Reflections

 "I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death."

With the recent world events and alarming responses by many Americans, I've been reflecting on such passages from Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom.

Finishing Mandela's autobiography was one of my New Year's resolutions, and I finally completed my goal during Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on October 17. To my recollection, the only book that took me longer to read from cover to cover was The Bible. I believe I spent 2.5 years reading The Bible straight through and over 1.5 years reading Long Walk to Freedom.

Fittingly, I find myself looking to both epic stories for strength during these times. I find myself asking "What would Jesus do?" and "What would Mandela do?" Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, as a Christian, I am not equating the two by any means. I just think think back to Mandela's words, and I am inspired to try to act in kindness and love to those whose behavior is fueled by fear, ignorance or hate.

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” 

I realize if I, and those like me, continue to just remove the racist, xenophobic and otherwise prejudicial people from our lives, those angry people will only associate with and be influenced by the like-minded, hateful mob. Divisions will only grow deeper.

 “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”