Christmas and Traditions

Ordinary Lives. JollyDaze meme

Welcome to JollyDaze 4 & me!
A short six week meme to carry us through the end of the year.
A meme for us to enjoy the holidays with.
We'd love to have you join us! Click here for more info.

Our Christmas tradition starts Christmas Eve when we put out the gifts. Long ago my sisters and I started shaking the gifts as we loaded the tree. It quickly became a game and Mom got smart. She camouflaged gifts in extra boxes and added things to rattle and shake in the box... LoL, that's something we do here too now. As you can see, I have to because it isn't just my hubs that shakes the gifts here...

Christmas morning starts with stockings, which is one of my favorite parts. Mom puts the best stuff in our stockings--I hope to learn that knack...

After the kids open their stockings, we have a big breakfast, and do the dishes, much to the kids' frustration, LoL.

THEN we move on, beginning with...

A tradition my father started years ago is to read the Luke 2 account of the birth of Jesus. It's one of those things that's near and dear to us and something we've continued on with even when Mom and Dad aren't with us for Christmas.

After Dad or Jim reads Luke 2 and we talk about it some, then comes the gifts. One at a time, taking turns so we can enjoy and savor each gift given and received.

Christmas is a family time we treasure.

So tell me, what's your favorite family Christmas tradition?

If you're joining us for the JollyDaze 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about Christmas, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

On deck for next week:  Christmas Decorations... your favorites and what they mean to you... how to make a particular Christmas decoration... decorations you remember... or anything Christmas. Click here for our post idea starter schedule.

November's Caption Contest Winner

You ever have times when you just check out of... life?
LoL. Well, I did. I checked out on Wednesday and stayed underground until Sunday. And it was good. Very good. =) Spent time with the fam, reading, and even Christmas shopping. And miracle of miracles, our shopping is close to being done, which means I get to relax some and enjoy the holiday. Woot! A rare treat and gift all its own.

I hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving, doing whatever it is you did.

Now for November's caption contest winner:

Bev White sent in what her husband would say... and for some reason I can hear Don saying it. Every time I read that line I cracked up. =) (Bev, email me and send along your snail mail addy so I can send a lil gift.)

Stay tuned for December's Caption Contest.

Don't forget tomorrow's JollyDaze 4 u & me post is about Favorite Christmas Traditions... memories of a tradition... We'd love to have you join us!


The Service of Worship

Each week at Living by Grace, a devotional discussion Facebook group, we post a memory verse and this week's is Romans 12:1...

Therefore I urge you brethren,
by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God,
which is our spiritual service 
of worship.
~Romans 12:1

Be sure to check the Cafe for more links to WFW

Won't you join me memorizing Romans 12:1 this week at Living by Grace?

*Photo by courtesy of

JollyDaze 4 Thanksgiving

JollyDaze 4 u & me meme

Welcome to our first 
JollyDaze 4 u & me meme! 
For 6 weeks we'll be posting about the holidays, and this week is Thanksgiving. For more information and the post idea starter schedule, check out the informational post for JollyDaze here.

And now, a step back in time...

Anytime my crew gets to talking about Thanksgiving, they circle quickly around to 2005--one of the most memorable Thanksgivings we've had. Now, you may consider us unAmerican, but remember, spending my teen years in Ecuador kind of altered how I view holidays. Turkey was unavailable there so we made due with what we had, and since it was THE best time to go to the beach, that's what many of us did, even if it meant eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along the side of the mountain on the way. Which it did. So, I thought I was doing great and in the spirit of the holiday by making turkey lunch meat sandwiches for the fam in 2005. ;-)

Thanksgiving of 2005 found us scrambling to get a house roofed before bad weather moved in. And it moved in the evening of Thanksgiving day. If we wanted the house under cover so we could work on it through the winter, we had to work on Thanksgiving... So we did.

Here's my youngest--he was about 4 here. Can you see the Thanksgiving Dinner anticipation building?

Our family has always worked together--in the house and out of it. My older daughter preps the shingles before they go to the roof.

The easiest way to keep an eye on the youngest was to give him a hammer and bring him with you up on the roof. Now, before you freak out on me, remember, my kids have all been brought up around construction and they're taught about roof behavior very early. VERY early. What you don't see in this picture is his daddy only two feet lower than him on the roof.

My middle son and younger daughter help in many ways, including cleaning out the original flower bed. It had been full of shingle bits and pieces from tearing the roof off a couple days earlier. They were up and down off the roof too. Many times they were shingle preparers and transporters.

And here's the cooker of Thanksgiving Day 2005. This man is amazing!! That year he roofed half that house in record time, even as the temperature dropped and the clouds grew heavier.

I didn't have a picture of our turkey lunch meat sandwich dinner, probably because I was busy making those sandwiches, but here's one of our desserts that day. Fruit and nut granola bars! Can you say yumz? My youngest sure was!

Like every Thanksgiving, there were moments here and there for naps... Here's my oldest in the comfiest spot around. Well, actually, that would've been the bench seat of the old pick-up but the youngest was crashed there. ;-)

We may have worked our tails off that Thanksgiving, but we sure made memories. The kids still love talking about it and we had fun...right up to when the snow started and we packed up and waited for Jim to finish the last few rows, in the spitting the snow. But we got it done and the inside work continued through the winter. Lemme tell ya, we were THANKFUL!

Happy Thanksgiving!
May you make many memories.

If you're joining us for the JollyDaze 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about Thanksgiving, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

On deck for next week, the 29th: Favorite Christmas Traditions... memories of a tradition... 

If I Were

Awhile ago, a looooong while ago, my cousin posted this on her site. I intended to post right away, but it slipped through the cracks. Well, I found it. Finally. *eye roll* If you'd like to play along, swipe it and play. =)

If I Were...
If I were a month, I’d be May, bursting with buds and blossoms.
If I were a day of the week, I’d be Sunday and strolling in the sunshine after my snooze.   
If I were a time of day, I’d be snack time with a tin of cookies close at hand.

If I were a "planet," I’d be Saturn with rings halos.
If I were a sea animal, I’d be a starfish, regenerating as needed.

If I were a direction, I’d be UP (who wants to be down?!)    

If I were a piece of furniture, that recliner with the soft, snuggly throw across the arm.

If I were a liquid, I'd be grape koolaid, sweet and full-flavored.

If I were a gemstone, blue zircon, quiet color, flashing.

If I were a tree, I’d be a sugar maple, glowing in October's sun.

If I were a tool, I'd be a tote bag, ready to grab and go.

If I were a flower, the tiger lily growing wild, waving to all passers-by.

If I were a kind of weather, I’d be the sunny day, luring you out.     

If I were a musical instrument, a cello, mellow and full.

If I were a color, the pink of a soft sunset.

If I were an emotion, I’d be peace, resting.     

If I were a fruit, I’d be an apple--crisp and comforting.

If I were a sound, I’d the hush of the hillside, settling into your soul.

If I were an element, I’d be earth, grounded and growing.

If I were a car, a practical pick-up, with all the trims, easing the practicality.

If I were a food, I’d be french fries, hot, salty, irresistible.

If I were a place, I’d be a tuft of paramo grass high in the Andes, sheltering from the wind.

If I were a fabric I'd be a cozy flannel shirt, softened by the years.

If I were a taste, I’d be a chocolate mint, zippy, fresh, chocolate.

If I were a scent, I’d be mandarin, bright and ready to go.

If I were an animal, I’d be that great pyrennes or golden retriever, never leaving your side.

If I were an object, I'd be a deck chair, inviting you to rest and linger.

If I were a body part, I’d be lips, curling up on the sides.

If I were a facial expression, I’d be a smile, reaching out.

If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be the sneakers, ready to run and ready to lounge.

What would you be?

JollyDaze 4 n Me Meme

We had so much fun with the a 2 z meme that we want to momentum to continue, so, for the next 6 weeks, we're doing JollyDaze 4 u & me. A holiday meme to carry us into 2012, and we'd love, Love, LOVE to have you join us. Interested but don't know why or where to start? Check out my post on the benefits of blog memes in "How to Make the Most of Memes."

Here’s the scoop on JollyDaze 4 u & me:
  • Linking day will continue to be on Tuesdays since we’re already programed that way, but you can do your post anytime during the week and then link up with us.
  • Come and go as you wish—NO pressure, it’s here to serve YOU not you serve it.
  • Everyone is welcome to join us and link up with us! The more the merrier.
  • You can do your own holiday themed post and link up
  • I’ve got an ‘idea starter schedule’ mapped out for us...

JollyDaze 4 & me Idea starter Schedule:
  • Nov 22 (next Tuesday): Thanksgiving. ANYthing Thanksgiving.
  • Nov 29: Favorite Christmas Traditions... memories of a tradition...
  • Dec 6: Christmas Decorations... your favorites and what they mean to you... how to make a particular Christmas decoration... decorations you remember...
  • Dec 13: Christmas Baking... Recipes... funnies... memories from the kitchen...
  • Dec 20: Church Activities/Celebrations... Cantatas... Plays... Readings... Candle light services... Dinners... baskets or gifts to needy... A memorable/meaningful church Christmas event...
  • Dec 27: New Year’s Celebrations... Traditions... Resolutions (although if you want we can run an extra linky on New Year’s Day for resolution type things)... Starting point... Memories...
These are JUST ideas in case you want ideas. You can do your own thing!! Even posts about the Nativity account in the Bible would be FABulous, so really, use this to serve you and fit you—just keep it holiday related and themed (the holidays being: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, NOT St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s and... ) *wink*

Here's the JollyDaze 4 u & me button code, if you want it:

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them. =)

Come join us and bring a friend!

Smelly Cans

I opened the cabinet door and was blasted with stench. Not just stink, but all-out stench. I quickly tossed the garbage into the can and shut the door. My aggravation level bounced off the ceiling--my son had neglected his responsibility. Keeping our home smelling good is hard enough without him forgetting to take out the cans after having tuna for lunch the day before--how could we ever expect it to smell good if we didn't take out the source of the stench?

“Have you removed the source, or did you just close the door and forget it's still there?”

Lord, I'm not the one responsible for hauling out the trash, he is.

“It's not the trash I'm talking about.”

I deflated like a hot air balloon. You see, when I opened the door to throw out some garbage, I was gnashing my teeth over a friend that had a way of getting on my nerves. She hadn't really done anything wrong, but I was dwelling on it because she had hurt my feelings earlier. Sure, she had offered an apology, but I hadn't let go of it yet. Rather than taking the garbage out of my life, I had just quickly closed the door, hoping it would disappear by itself. But it didn't. It sat in the trash can hole of my life and incubated, just like those tuna cans had. And the result was much the same.

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; ~Hebrews 12:15

By not taking out the trash of my life, I had allowed in a root of bitterness, and it was causing me trouble, just like Hebrews warned. Not only that, but the stench of those forgotten (shoved into a corner) cans was permeating my whole life, which in turn affected my family. If left alone, the stench and bitterness would consume my life.

But Lord, she...

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye. ~Luke 6:42

Ouch. Hypocrite?
Yes, hypocrite.

Changing my friend, my sister in Christ, was not my responsibility, but pulling out that root of bitterness inside me was. As long as I was harboring bitterness, my life would stink and I wouldn't be at peace. That seemingly insignificant event was majorly stinking up my life. I had trash to take out.

While my son took out the trash and the smelly cans, I got out my cleaning supplies and went to work on the kitchen garbage hole, hoping to alleviate the smell as quickly as possible. I sprayed and scrubbed as I prayed and confessed my sin of stashing bitterness instead of hauling it out immediately. Facing my sin like that wasn't the most pleasant thing in the world, but the peace that replaced the bitterness made it worthwhile.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. ~Hebrews 12:11

When I was done, both garbage holes were clean—the kitchen garbage hole, and my heart's garbage hole. Peace once again reigned in my life and my attitude was as it should be.

And the work of righteousness will be peace...
~Isaiah 32:17

What about you? Do you have smelly cans that need to be taken out so they don't incubate and stink? Don't just quickly shut the door and forget about them. Haul them out and get rid of any roots of bitterness that may be hiding among them.

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your forgiveness and for Your patience with us. Help me to see my sin for what it really is, and to bring it to You, confess it and remove it from my life. You alone are God, and I thank You and praise You for all You are and all You do. Use me for Your glory, in Your name I pray, amen.

Lynda Schab, Published!

Although I don't do author spotlights on my blog anymore, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have Lynda for a visit. Lynda is a fellow FaithWriter and when one of us publish, we all cheer. =)

Lynda Lee Schab got her writing start in greeting cards (Blue Mountain Arts, Dayspring) and from there went on to write articles and short stories (Mature Living, Christian Home & School) and in many places online (including and, but her passion has always been fiction.

Mind Over Madi, her debut novel, is near and dear to her heart. Lynda admits she has a lot in common with the character of Madi. Not only are they both addicted to ice cream, chocolate, and computer games, they struggle with the same types of insecurities and continually require a hefty dose of God’s grace.

Lynda works behind the scenes at and is a member of ACFW. She is a regular book reviewer for and is the Grand Rapids Christian Fiction Examiner and the National Writing Examiner for Mind Over Madi received Runner-up in the 2007 FaithWriters Page Turner contest, was a finalist in the 2007 RWA Get your Stiletto in the Door contest, and won second place in the 2008 ACFW Genesis contest, Chick Lit category. Lynda lives with her husband, Rob, and two teenagers in Michigan.

Mind Over Madi
Madi McCall admits her husband lacks a little in the romance department, but all in all, he’s been a good husband, a good father. Now, though, she suspects Rich is having an affair with Fawn Witchburn, the mother of one of his fourth-grade students. To say Fawn shows of her “assets” more than should be legally allowed
in public is an understatement, and Madi’s insecurities kick into high gear. When, in a heated moment, she asks Rich to leave and he complies, Madi is forced to deal with her issues. Issues of love and trust she’s tried so hard to avoid. Issues that trail all the way back to her childhood and make her act like a total moron.

Let's talk with Lynda...
How did FW play into getting published?
I’d had a few non-fictional things published by the time I joined FaithWriters in 2004, but it played a huge part in my fiction. I was addicted to The Weekly Writing Challenge for a couple of years, and built up a library of fictional pieces. I went on to sell several of them to national magazines. I also entered Mind over Madi in the 2008 Page Turner contest and ended up taking 2nd place. FaithWriters administrator, and now dear friend, Deb Porter, showered me with support and encouragement, which spurred me on to finish my manuscript. The writers that make up the FaithWriters community are so positive and uplifting. They truly rejoice over each other’s accomplishments and do whatever they can to help other writers to use their gifts and achieve the calling God has placed on their lives.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
That’s easy: Apply the Butt Glue and just write. Discipline has never been my biggest strength, but that book won’t get written unless I park my behind in the chair and start typing. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I have a million other things to do. One of my favorite quotes on writing is “You can fix bad, but you can’t fix blank.”

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
My favorite verse is Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” I recite this verse often! Because my mind is always so busy and distracted, I tend to stress out a lot. I need to keep reminding myself that God is God. He’s in control. And everything will be okay.

On the cover photo, “Madi” is wearing a tiara. What is the significance in that?

Madi’s therapist challenges her to think of herself as a princess – the daughter of the King. Madi has never thought of herself this way, and throughout the story, there are references to various Disney princesses as Madi tries to figure out which one she most relates to. I had fun with the theme, even giving “the other woman” the fairy tale-ish name of Fawn Witchburn.

What do you want readers to take away from reading Madi’s story?
An understanding of just how infinite God’s love is. That no matter what we’ve done, God will never stop pursuing our hearts or desiring a relationship with us. His mercies are new every morning and His grace covers our weaknesses, our mistakes, our ignorance.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I am currently writing the second book in the Madi series, titled, Madily in Love. Basically, Madi really wants to rekindle the romance in her marriage, so she signs up for a Revitalize Your Marriage with Romance class at church. There, she receives great suggestions on spicing up her relationship with her husband, but when she tries the tips, things don’t go as planned. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m already having a lot of fun with the storyline.

Looking to enter a book drawing for Mind Over Madi? Swing by the Book Loft for a spotlight and interview and two chances to win the book.


Each week at Living by Grace, a devotional discussion Facebook group, we post a memory verse and this week's is Philippians 4:7, to go with last week's verse which was verse 6.

And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace, real peace--God's peace, is found in Christ Jesus...

Be sure to check the Cafe for more links to WFW

Won't you join me memorizing Philippians 4:6-7 this week at Living by Grace?

Zippedy Doo

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me

Now, for this week's installment of our a 2 z 4 u & me meme,
the letter Z
at long last.

I cannot believe we made it aaaaaall the way through the alphabet! And it's been so much fun! I never dreamed it'd be this fun! Zaney fun! Did you catch the post on the value of blog memes? I've found each of those benefits to be true just in this time through our a 2 z meme. These 26 weeks have Zipped by.

We've had so much fun that next week we're starting a 6 week long holiday meme to carry us through the end of the year. Since next week is Thanksgiving, let's start with Thanksgiving--memories, recipes, ideas, tips, ANYthing at all to do with Thanksgiving.

For weeks now I've told you about the Zoo I live in--now it's time for YOU to tell me about the Zoo you live in. C'mon, open the gates and let your Zoo loose. Lay it on me good, my friends.  Misery loves company so keep me company in this Zoo that is my life.

If you're joining us for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter Z, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Stay tuned--I'll be posting some info about our 6 week JollyDaze 4 u & me meme later this week.

Making the Most of Blog Memes

Blogging Tips and Tricks at Ordinary Lives

Meme, rhymes with cream. It's a collection of like-minded posts, all linked together in one location so others can go from site-to-site visiting. Kind of like a church potluck or, more accurately, a progressive dinner. Often the name will give you a pretty good idea of what the meme is about.

General rules for participating in a meme:
  • Find and read the intro post that gives specifics for that meme. Generally, the meme buttons link to that important post.
  • Check out a few others posts to ensure you get the gist of things.
  • When you link your site using the linky gadget, be SURE to use the specific link to that particular post, not just to your blog in general. (So, when I want to join a meme, I click on the post title and use the url it brings up. It will look something like this: and will take you to only that one post.)
  • When you participate in a meme, go around and visit others, leaving comments. You don't have to visit everyone, but the more the merrier.
Benefits of joining a meme:
  • A great post starter for you.
  • They're often easy posts to write.
  • They can be creativity boosters and help you think outside the box.
  • You meet new friends and widen your circle.
  • If you join fairly consistently and interact with others, your site will gradual grow.
  • Often the traffic to your blog will increase.
  • If you usually only post occasionally the more frequent posting translates into growth.
Some hints for getting the most from the meme:
  • Arrive early! The sooner you get your post linked with the others, the more hits and comments you'll likely garner. If you link up late, you could easily miss most, if not all of the visitors.
  • Visit those linking up near you. At least a few before and a few after, then any that catch your attention.
  • Stop by late in the day or even the next day and visit those on the end of the list. They appreciate your comment even more. ;-)
  • Reply to those commenting. Some reply in the comments section, others email a reply and a 'thank you for visiting'. Do what works for you.
  • Remember, it's like a progressive dinner. Visit the other participants and leave comments. I know, I said this earlier. It's important. Fly by linking (linking with a meme without interacting with others) isn't appreciated and can easily earn you black marks instead of brownie points. You want brownie points.

Good memes are abundant, but here's a few favorites:
    Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me
  • a2z - Yes, it's one that's hosted here, but it's fun. And easy. ;-) A weekly alphabet game. Post ANYthing about the letter we're on--a picture of something that starts with that letter, a list, an article, ANYthing. It's been a terrific post starter and creativity booster.
  • Monday Manna - hosted by Joanne and Yvonne. They post a verse on Thursday and you post your thought on that verse and link up on Monday. A great way to meditate on Scripture.
  • Fiction Friday - a traveling meme hosted on different blogs and currently run by Sara. Each Friday participants post their own, original fiction on their blogs and then link up. For posting info and to see who's hosting that week, check out the Fiction Friday Facebook page.
  • Word Filled Wednesday -This is a fast, yet meaningful post in my opinion. You select a picture, put a verse on it (I use Picasa or and post it on your blog. You can write about the verse if you wish--as little or much as you like. Here's my WFW posts here if you want to see it in action.
  • Thankful Thursday - This is one I've never participated in but is an old faithful and well-loved by many. Each Thursday write out things you're thankful for. What a great way to stay grateful for big things and small things too.

 There you have it. Probably more than you wanted to know about memes, rhymes with creams.

So tell me, what memes do you enjoy the most?
Confused? Let me know and I'll clarify for you.  =)

Mirrored Elevens

Today is a mirror image day. Take a look. Any way you look at it, it's 11-11-11. Even if you look upside down and inside out. I can't think of another time when it was like this. Sure, it's been 10-10-10 and 09-09-09, but those dates, as cool as they were, weren't mirror images.

That got me thinking...
For more of this post, visit me at Jewels of Encouragement...then stop by Living by Grace and chat about it with us!

Caption Contest: November

The winner of October's Caption Contest was Diana Dart. Be sure to check out her caption for the katydid.

At the fair this year, my middle son and I wandered off from the others and found this guy in the petting zoo...

November's caption contest picture:

Leave your captions in the comments.
The fam will help me pick a winner.
Winner will be post on Saturday, November 26th.
Winner will receive "a lil something" from me. 

In Everything

Each week at Living by Grace, a devotional discussion Facebook group, we post a memory verse and this week's is Philippians 4:6.

Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Be sure to check the Cafe for more links to WFW

Won't you join me memorizing Philippians 4:6 this week at Living by Grace?

Yard Ornaments

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me
Before we get to this week's letter, we have some unfinished business from last week. The correct guess for "Which picture is xeliconia?" is none of them because I made that word up! How's that for being desperate for an X word?! LoL.

And the winner of the Zechariah 3:17 print is Liz Tolsma. Why? Because she actually Googled xeliconia and discovered it wasn't on Google. Way to go, Liz! =) (Send me your addy, girl, so I can get that to you.)

Now, for this week's installment of our a 2 z 4 u & me meme,
the letter Y.

I thought about telling you about my Yoyo fish...

and my sometimes-yappy dog, Gracie...

but those are old news. You guys know I'm a fool for my crazy animals. So, I thought I'd do something different this time. I know, after 23 or 24 a 2 z posts, it's about time for something unique and yet I've got to save a few things up my sleeve for next week's letter Z sooooo...

How about Yard ornaments?!
Yanno, those curious... things people have in their Yards. Sometimes they're cool. Sometimes they're weird. Sometimes they're Yucky and sometimes...

sometimes they're even normal. LoL.

But Y b normal?
**bonus points for telling me about any outrageous yard ornaments You've seen! **

Here's one I've seen, quite recently... a Yard stove.

What? Don't You have a stove in your Yard??

One of these is pretty common out here in my part of the country, along with a whole collection of other antique farm equipment. I love seeing them.

And of course, the old tractor. Cannot forget that.*eye roll*

Here's one I'd love to have. It's an ant made out of  flat stones and metal. Its eyes are jumbo washers and it was really cool. We saw it in February on our trip with the church seniors when Jim drove the bus for them to Bald Knob Cross. (Such a fun trip!!)

So tell me, what's one of the coolest Yard ornaments You've seen?

If you're joining us for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter Y, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

How to Best Use Blog Labels

Blogging Tips and Tricks at Ordinary Lives

Blog labels are tools. In my blogging arsenal, they aren't optional. They're necessary and even vital. But why?

Labels are used for organizing.

Not an organizer? Try this one:
Labels help make your blog posts available for reading, long after they were first published, giving them more mileage instead of gathering dust in your archives.
Some things to remember about blog labels:
  • Blog labels are not just key words mentioned in your post.
  • Another way to think of labels: it's your blog's filing system. Just like you want your filing cabinet organized so you can find things easily, you want your posts filed so they're easily accessible. Or how about thinking of labels as storage boxes? If they're labeled well, it's easy to find what you're looking for. ;-)  You get the idea...
  • You don't want 100 different labels. I've heard no more than 25 labels, which makes sense, even if it can be hard impossible to do. Limit yourself to some well chosen labels.
  • Choose your labels based on the things you blog about. Think TOPICS when you label your posts. A side benefit will be that it helps you find a focus to your blog, if you don't know it already.
  • Labels, done correctly, will enable your readers to click on a label they see and find more posts on that topic, which blows the dust off your archives and gets more mileage from your blog articles.

Here's a quick and easy way to add labels to your posts:

  • Go to your Dashboard. 
  •  Click to Edit Posts.
  • Check the box next to the post that you'd like to add a label to.
  • Under the Search box, click the drop down menu for Label Actions. That will give you a list of all the labels you currently have published on your blog.
  • Click the label you'd like applied to that post.
You can only add one label at a time, but if there are multiple posts you'd like to add that label to, simply check the box for each post you want it added to.

To remove labels from posts:
  • Go to your Dashboard. 
  •  Click to Edit Posts.
  • Check the box next to the post that you'd like to remove a label from.
  • Under the Search box, click the drop down menu for Label Actions. At the very bottom of the labels it offers, you'll find "Remove label" followed by a list of labels applied to that post.
  • Click the label you'd like removed from that post.
Once again, you can only remove one label at a time, but you can remove it from multiple posts at the same time by checking the posts that you want it removed from.

Many bloggers have a list of their labels in the sidebar, others of us use our labels in our navbars/linkbars (tabs, above or below the blog header), a great way to display your blog features and main topics. Later I'll tell you how to use your labels in your navbar/linkbar.

To have a label list in your sidebar:
  • Go to your Dashboard.
  • Click Design.
  • There on your Page Elements, in the sidebar area, click Add a Gadget.
  • In the pop up menu list, select Labels.
  • Select how you'd like your labels to appear, and click Save.
  • It will automatically add it to the top of your sidebar area, but you can position it anywhere you'd like by clicking and dragging it.
  • Save your work.

And there you have--why and how to use labels on your blog posts. Later I'll show you how to use them with your linkbar/navbar. =)

Midwestern Life

It's gotten to the point that I don't often mention it when I post on other sites... that's not necessarily a good habit. To be honest, I post on several sites and it got to the point that I felt like all I was doing was posting notices here to visit me elsewhere, and that really, really bothered me. So I quit.

Each month, on the 5th and 22nd, I post at the Barn Door. I use lots of pictures that I take here, there, and yonder as I go through my days here in Southern Illinois. That's one reason why I love the Barn Door so much--it's just about life here in the Midwest. Down home. Easy. Comfortable. Very much me.

So, for that reason, today I'd like to invite you to join me at The Barn Door. It's simply a post about this season that I love. Few words. (Which makes it even better.) And if you're curious, *eye roll* you can see other places I post by clicking the Community tab above.
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