Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simply Homeschool: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

For any of you that love to write, or have a student that would benefit from a great writing experience, here is a guest post from my daughter over at Musings of an Elf about National Novel Writing Month:

In the month of November, over 100k people do one crazy NaNoWriMo Badgetask: Write a 50k novel in 30 days. This is called National Novel Writing Month, or, as usually referred to, NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo started out 13 years ago by a small group of people who wanted to try their hand at novel writing. This formed into the official site where anyone can join in on the insanity of writing 50k words in only 30 days. It quickly grew into a sensation and now has thousands and thousands of participants of all ages, young and old, not only national but international, every year.

50,000 words in one month. A crazy goal, but doable, and quite fun!

So why is this fun you ask? Let me sum NaNo up for you and you can see for yourself.

NaNo consists of sitting down and staring at your screen for endless upon endless hours, straining your eyes to the point of blindness. Hiding in your writing places for days on end until your family and friends begin to think you have disappeared from the earth, or just gone mad (which every NaNo participant is, so this is not far from the truth). Forgetting that eating is essential to stay alive (I mean, as long as you are feeding your characters than that is all that matters, right?). Wearing your fingers out until they scream for a reprieve or just shrivel up altogether to the point of incapacitation (until next November of course!). Consuming so much coffee (or other such beverage (I don’t like coffee)) that you grow a permanent twitching in your left eye. And then, after all that work and abandoning your entire life for a whole month, you find your novel to be a complete mess of blurred words and random sentences.

Doesn’t that sound fun?!

See, didn’t I tell you? Nothing better than that!

Okay, okay, while my summary of NaNo is very true (*cough*), that is not all NaNo is about.

NaNoWriMo is a fantastic program that helped me with my passion for writing tremendously. It is so much fun knowing you are doing the same crazy task with thousands of other people around the world. It gives you such a feeling of accomplishment to know you made it to the “winner’s circle” and wrote that much in only 30 days. You will find your imagination flowing like never before. The possibilities are really endless.

NaNoWriMo Badge 2011They offer all sorts of things. There is a NaNo store where you can buy really neat NaNo’ing things like NaNoWriMo pens, books, mugs, bags, etc. If you donate to the program there are some nifty donor goodies waiting for you. Throughout the month of November they get authors (often famous ones at that) to send out pep talks to keep you moving forward. For the past 2 or 3 years they have had a place called CreateSpace offering to print your novel in actually book form if you make it to 50k words, which was very nice. And the cool thing is all those who make it to 50k are winners, giving you a deep feeling of pleasure because of it.

One of the most wonderful things NaNo offers is the “YoungYWP NaNo Badge Writers Program.” This is for anyone younger than the age required to participate (13 and up), or any who wish to set a lower word goal than 50k. At you will find a site very much like the official one but geared for a younger audience. Here anyone from Kindergarten on can participate in the fun of the month, setting their own word goals, and experiencing the wonders of writing.

At the Young Writers Program there is also a section for educators, where they offer lesson plans, worksheets, classroom kits, and the like that you can use to get your children started, excited about writing, and strive to make it to their goal.

There is just so much there!

I think NaNo is a great program that really teaches persistence and hard work, discovering the ways of the writing world, flourishes the imagination, and yet is fun doing it all.

The websites ( and has all sorts of information, large forums, and everything to get you ready to write, write, write!

      -LaurilothMusings of an Elf Button

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Simply Pictures: George Eastman Collection

Aren’t these vintage pictures wonderful?! I love the look of these and I thought that you might enjoy them, too.  They are from the George Eastman Collection, whom was the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company and inventor of roll film.









It is interesting to me how the look of photography changes over the years.  I enjoy the art of photography from any generation, although I have to say, the pop culture of the 70’s doesn’t hold a lot of appeal to me.  Maybe that is where (say) “cheese” began. Winking smile


Well, that is all for now.  Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope that you are having a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simply Home: Growing African Violets


I love African Violets.  They add such an old fashioned touch to my home.  No need to be intimidated growing them either.  If I can do it, anybody can!  Here’s how:

1.  Repot your African Violet after purchase with good soil.  You can buy soil specifically made for your violet.


2.  Place your violet near a window or under a lamp that you keep on daily.  Better light yields more blooms.

3.  Water when soil is dry to the touch from the base below leaves, or in a saucer below plant, with tepid water rather than cold.  Take care not get water on the leaves as it will cause brown spots. 

4.  Keep dying or ugly leaves and blooms pinched off.

5.  Use African Violet plant food according to directions.  


You can easily start a new plant, too.  Just simply place a healthy leaf or two from your original violet in a new pot of soil.  Water and give light as you would a mature plant.  (Be very careful not to get water on new growth foliage.  I killed one that way and learned a lesson!)  Before long, you will begin to see sweet little baby leaves!  

Here is the progress of my recent new start:


Once the new growth gets going, pinch off the original leaf.


It is a great way to share with friends and loved ones!

Extra tips:

  • African Violets don’t like chlorine, so it is a good idea to use water that has been sitting out for a day or so.
  • Repot about once a year, so that they can enjoy a fresh batch of soil and nutrients.
  • They don’t like direct sunlight.  If leaves turn pale green, this is a sign that they are receiving too much light.
  • Healthy plants rest several months a year and don’t always bloom.
  • They like the same temperature that we do, making them ideal houseplants.   


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simply Sharing: Camera Shopping Ideas

You may already know, I love taking pictures.  I drive everyone crazy snapping, from the kids to the pets.  We once had a horse that never did have much for me after my flash fired about a million times near his face.  Poor fellow.  I didn’t think of that.  I was just so carried away by his horsey wonderfulness, but I am afraid he didn’t share my sentiment.

Well, a grudge holding horse isn’t what I started out to talk about.  Camera shopping is, however.  I don’t have any great wisdom to impart, but here are a few thoughts if you happen to be in the market for one, with the upcoming holiday season.

First of all, do you want a point and shoot,

or do you want a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex)? 

Pictured is my DSLR.  (Isn’t Mr. Bob cute?  He is my 44 year old (at least) Steiff bear that I have had since I was four.)

Nikon & Mr. Bob

Both point and shoot and DSLR’s each have their perks.  A point and shoot may be all that you need, but if you are serious about taking pictures, you may want to invest in an SLR.  Either way, make a list of the features that are important to you, and then jot down notes as you shop and compare.

If shopping online, before you buy, go to a retail store and handle the cameras that you are interested in.  Do you like the size, the feel, the look? Give them a try.  Are they noisy and does that matter to you? It might, for instance, if you are in church snapping a picture of your little one in a quiet scene during a Christmas pageant.  What about the menus?  Are they user friendly?  How quick is the start up speed when you turn the camera on?  Is there a delay between you pressing the shutter button and the actual time the camera takes the picture?  You don’t want to miss your shot because your camera delayed.  A little pause goes a long way in missing the moment.  Does it have optical zoom or digital zoom? (Digital can distort picture.)  Do you want a video feature?  How about a self-timer?….

If you’re looking for an SLR, keep in mind that the quality of the lens is more important than the camera that you choose.  Buy the fastest lens/lenses that you can afford.  Cheap lenses aren’t usually a bargain.  A fast lens would be considered an f 2.8.  An  f 5.6 would be slower and not do as well in low light situations. (I am aiming for a faster one myself.)  Is the camera heavy?  How about the lens?  This can be cumbersome if you are carrying it around for long stretches of time.

What type of lens will you need?  Anything smaller than a 50mm lens is in the wide-angle category and works well for landscape and group shots.   Anything with a focal length larger than 50mm is considered telephoto.  Most average shooting situations use between 35mm and 100mm, but that is not adequate for wildlife photography.  If you do buy a lens, be sure and protect your investment with a UV-haze filter.

There are several good brands out there, but I prefer the two leading brands, Canon and Nikon.  You can’t go wrong with either. 

This is a self portrait with my little point and shoot Canon PowerShot. 


I love the sleekness of this little camera, and how it fits even in small purses. I don’t usually shoot on auto, and for some reason, I keep forgetting how to sort through the menus of this camera.  On the other hand, my SLR is a Nikon and although it has a vast number of features, I just naturally mix with it better and can breeze through the menus with clear understanding.  Hands on shopping may help to get a feel for what brand is right for you.    

Shopping for a camera sure can be overwhelming! But just think of all the fun and memories that it will bring once you find one that you love!

Happy hunting – and shooting!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simply Pictures: Bits of Fall


One of our precious little fury friends, “Westley,” whom is a silly cat, named after a silly character, from the silliest of movies, The Princess Bride.


Pretty doors on a lovely old church downtown.


My hubby having to pose for another “cotton pickin’ picture.”  This field was found growing on the Tombigbee River.


Autumn blessings…..


Don’t you just love fall?!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simply Heart & Soul: An Immeasurable and Inexhaustible Power Supply

Habakkuk had reason to feel hopeless. The Babylonians would soon attack his homeland and he was facing probable destruction. But look at his response in verse 18 and 19.

18Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. Hab. 3:18-19

He had been spending time with God -- his short book is a record of his conversation with God, about the way the Lord does things.  He didn’t like, understand, or grasp God’s mysterious ways, but Habakkuk gripped the principle that God knows what He is doing.  Habakkuk responded in faith, trusting his Creator.

At some point in life, most all of us will face circumstances that look grim, creating a whirlwind of emotions deep inside of us; discouragement, hopelessness, helplessness, powerlessness, fearfulness.  It is key to remind yourself that

Christ is your strength.

Christ is your hope.

Christ is your stability.

Christ is your power supply.

His strength, the hope that He offers, His stability, and His power are all immeasurable and inexhaustible, and each are yours when He is yours.

I prefer using manual focus on my camera’s lens.  Nonetheless, when I am faced with difficulty and hardship, my natural tendency is to “zoom in” and autofocus my mind directly on my troubles.  Allowing ourselves to do this can cause us to be all consumed by the struggles that we face.  There is a better way. 

Zoom in on Jesus, and

manually focus your mind directly on Him.

What a difference that makes with our perspective!

As Habakkuk did,

come to Him and His Word so that He can equip you with all that you need.

Then, with confidence,

rest in Him,

allowing your anxieties to melt away with

His beautiful, restoring love and hope,

which only He can give.

Key with psalm

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Simply Sharing: Abby’s Generous Giveaway

I was so elated and surprised to see that I had won Abby’s giveaway over at Little Birdie Blessings and I am dying to show you all of the wonderful goodies!  Seemingly at lighting speed, I found such a fun and exciting package in my mailbox!

DSC_0200 (Custom)

It was packed so neat!  Look at the cool envelopes!  I couldn’t wait to see what was inside…

DSC_0243 (Custom)

OH MY!  What treasures I found!

DSC_0249 (Custom)

Postcards, cutouts, scripture art, lace, embroidery floss, buttons, tags, scrapbook paper, stickers…..

DSC_0252 (Custom)

My girls and I are now off to a great start with paper crafting, thanks to her precious generosity!

DSC_0253 (Custom)

Oh so pretty!

DSC_0254 (Custom)

Oh so much fun!

DSC_0260 (Custom)

Thank you sooooo very much, Abby!!!! 

Stop by Abby’s WONDERFUL blog chocked full of inspiration, ideas, images, and much more!

Blog Button

Monday, October 10, 2011

Simply Heart & Soul: Editing Error

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)

I am the queen of error.  I tell everybody I know, if something goes wrong, blame me, because usually I am the cause.  Yep, sad, but true.  If something is lost, it’s usually because I put it in an odd place.  If something breaks, it is usually me that breaks it.  

Several years ago, after my youngest daughter got baptized, we took a few minutes to blow dry her hair.  As quick as we could, we returned to our pew.  About the time we sat down, the pastor interrupted his sermon with an apology, and proceeded to ask some of the men to check around because he smelled something burning.  Soon, we all did.  Turns out….the blow dryer had caused some electrical problems.

Another time, when my oldest daughter was eleven or twelve, she got stuck in an elevator, along with her two beloved buddies. They were heading down from the 5th floor after a 4-H meeting.  Just before landing on the ground floor, they got stuck and had to be rescued.  My fault.  You ask, now how could that be your fault?  Well, I’ll tell you.  One day I told my daughter that “if you jump in an elevator just before landing, it will feel like you’re flying.”  She remembered.  Oops.  And jump they did-all three of them.  The next thing they knew, BLAM! The elevator crashed and stopped suddenly, causing the girls to fall on the floor.  After a panicked moment of silence as six gigantic eyes stared at one another, they belted out screams while banging on the door for help.  To calm themselves, for the next half hour, they sang--Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, etc.—creating quite a stir in the city annex building that day.

Oh, dear reader, the error of my ways is far reaching!  You may even see it in this post! 

My daughter and I sometimes edit each other’s writing.  We have discovered that even though we can’t readily see our own mistakes, we can recognize each other’s quickly.  Isn’t that how it goes in life?  We can see each other’s mistakes so fast, but what about our own?

My daughter wrote a humorous post on her blog about the dreadful task of editing a book that she is writing.  But every good writer knows the necessity of it.  As I think about it, anything good is generally edited.  I edit complicated recipes as I cook, making sure that I added everything.  I edit my luggage when I pack for a trip, making sure that I didn’t forget anything.  We just went to see the wonderful movie “Courageous.”  It was exceptional and I suspect, a lot of editing went into it.   

You know something else that needs constant editing?  My heart.

Sometimes, I fail to see my own error. 

So, I find myself needing to ask God to edit me.  And let me tell you, when I ask, He does!

It may not be my idea of fun, and it is generally a painstaking process, but, being how I am the queen of error, it sure is necessary! :) 

Rose calling card graphic from Little Birdie Blessings

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Simply Pictures: A Glimpse of the Old South

Step back in time for a few moments with me, to the 1800’s in Natchez, Mississippi,  

DSC_0012 - Copy (Custom)

the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River.

DSC_0023 - Copy (800x522) (Custom)

I love the grand old houses there. 

DSC_0027 (Custom)

DSC_0032 (2) (Custom)

They fill my imagination,

DSC_0028 (Custom)

DSC_0042 - Copy (Custom)

DSC_0044 - Copy (Custom)

DSC_0038 (Custom)

DSC_0081 - Copy (Custom)

DSC_0193 - Copy

similar to visiting the pages of a cherished old book.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...