Feeling Shunned by the Prim Community?

Then check out why I Bid the Prim Community Adieu. You are NOT alone.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Brrrrrrrrrr

Well, it's around 40 below zero right now with wind chill. We've had it colder, but for some reason today is colder for the dogs. They can hardly stay out for a minute, and then they have to hobble back into the house. The poor things. The puppy was crying for about a minute after she got in and holding one of her paws up.

We had a lot of wind over the weekend - gusts of up to 60 mph, and I believe it! The screen door was securely latched and locked, but it rattled all day. All this blowing caused a lot of drifting snow. We did get some additional snow, but I'm not sure how much with all the drifts. The place that we had walked on and crunched down a lot for the dogs has disappeared, so we gotta crunch, crunch some more!

Take care all of you who are in the path of the storm coming up. Stay warm and stay safe!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Connection Between Blog Comments and SEO Link Building

For part one, please see Using SEO to get Your Selling Blog Noticed.
For part two, please see SEO and Links .

Did you know that there's a connection between leaving blog comments and SEO link building? Indeedy there is! Usually if yours is one of the first few comments, you’re more likely to get noticed simply because people often don’t have time to read through all of the comments. Commenting just to comment – like those silly “First” comments you see on various sites – doesn’t help. In fact, it will get people annoyed at you! But even if you're not one of the first few people to comment, you're at least getting your link out there, which is certainly a good thing, as I've mentioned in my previous posts about Blogging and SEO.

Additionally, if you leave your blog url in your comment, that’s oftentimes seen as the dreaded spam. Remember, when you comment, there’s a place to put your url, so if people want to find you, they can. The exception to the no spamming your url in the comments section is if you’ve actually written a blog post about the topic at hand. Rather than writing a whole blog post in the comments section, sharing your link to your particular blog post – as opposed to your general blog – isn’t seen as spam. But only do this when it’s germane to the particular topic you’re commenting on.

Also, when making comments, make sure you’re respectful to the blogger and his/her readers. You are, after all, in a person’s online “house,” and they’re allowing you in. Be courteous.

As to reading the comments people have left on your blog, be courteous right back! If any of the people who have commented on your blog ask a question, by all means, answer it! Blogging is kind of like a dialog with people around the country and the world. It’s a great way of meeting people and getting to know them. Treating those who visit your blog with respect will go a long way, and they’ll more likely want to return to read what you have to say.

Swap Goodies

Well, today started out quite blustery. We're having about 50 mph gusts of wind. We'll probably get a lot of drifting snow; then again, we might not due to some crusting that's been going on the past couple days. We've actually had a tropical heat wave and reached 40 degrees. Whoot! Of course, we still have about 2 feet of snow still on the ground, but it was nice to get the foot and a half of snow off the awning on my side window. Still about 2 feet of snow on my porch roof. We'll be plunging down to below zero for the highs this weekend, and who knows what the wind chill will be.

So my son and I made the trek to the post office. I stopped by my friends' house to water their plants, then away we trekked to the post office. It is quite a trek since they don't believe in plowing anything around here in this town. I guess the mayor's grandson just didn't feel like it...though he's quick to pick his paycheck up - lol!

Yes, going out in this town can put me in a cranky mood. Having to see the inbreds and telltale signs of their presence is enough to make a sane person cranky - lol! But I keep on with my attitude of gratitude. Yes, it's still sticking with me, though there are days...

Anyhoo, having to brave sightings of these inbreds that make you want to throw up a little bit in your mouth was tempered by a lovely package I received today from my swap partner, Debbie, at the Prim Pals forum. First of all, we had to do the usual greeting of the dogs once we got home, especially that overly exuberant puppy Tessa. She's a scrappy little thing, but she can sure jump high. She jumps up, licks our faces on her way up, then she lands, and springs back up for more kisses. She's a silly sweetie. Of course, she thought the package was for her and wanted to explore everything in it. Nuh uh uh...

So I eagerly tore open the package and the first thing I saw was this adorable sheep:
(Excuse the paint from projects in the background).

It's actually a bar of soap with that lovely artwork on it. I've developed quite a fondness for folksy sheep lately (and not in the way North Dakota males are fond of sheep - lol)! So my heart smiled...though I wanted to get the packaging off and see it up close. Unfortunately, the raffia bow was just too cute to cut, and I'm so bad at undoing knots, I was fit to be tied (pun intended)! My son is good at undoing knots and he wanted to try. Voila, he got it untied:

Now that's a bow to keep! And here's the delightful little bar of soap out of its confines:

Too cute! As my son was undoing the knot, I was taking a look at all the other amazing goodies: heart salt dough ornies painted so delightfully; one of Debbie's pretty felt candle mats; and a cute heart ornie with some sweet annie (I think) in it;
some sunflowers tied with green homespun and with the most amazing looking petals;
gingerbread hot maple syrup candle (mmmmm);
and a hand painted mug
initialed by the artist herself!

The sunflowers actually look pretty good in that tin can I painted for another project that's in the works. I think, when it's completed, I might stick those sunflowers in there to see how it looks.

Oh, and Debbie also sent me some yummy chocolates, but they were gone before I could take pictures - lol!

This truly brightened my day, Debbie. Now I'm all snuggly warm inside with these goodies while the wind howls outside. Geez, even the screen door is rattling up a storm (ha!) and it's securely latched and locked. I think we're in for a doozy of a storm...yet the sun is shining brightly. But that's NoDak for ya!

Prairie Patch

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whoot! 50 Followers = Another Goody Added to Giveaway

Coolio! I now have 50 followers! Yay, thank you all so very much. So here's another goody added to the giveaway: some soy tarts. Now if you don't have a tart burner, I could make some of these into candles or soap. The winner can pick out which scents or shapes I have. Here's just a sample:


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Craft Supplies on Sale Blog

I decided to start up a blog that will list all of the sales or special offers (like free shipping) that I find on craft supplies. I get so many flyers in my email; plus, I just happen to see sales when I'm surfing around.

The blog is entitled Craft Supplies Sales and Resources

If you know of any sales, please email me or post a comment on the blog. Then I'll make a post about it, and link to your blog so you can get the credit for the find. I figure this not only helps us all find good sales, but it also gives you that important one way linking I wrote about on my SEO and Links post.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Link Handmade

Here's a nice blog to show off what you've been working on recently:

New Items Added to My Giveaway

Yay! I hit my 40th follower yesterday! Here are a few items I'm adding to the candles and rag quilt bag.



These are little heart ornies you can put up in your home all year round. You can also hang them on some twine and make a garland. They're made with the rag edges you see in rag quilts. Yes, I admit to being on a "rag" (hmmm...that sounds kinda weird - lol) mood lately. It's mainly due to having access to a washer and dryer. I think my friends will be coming home soon, so there goes that access. Thus, I gotta "rag" while I can!

I'd throw in to the giveaway the little quilted table topper that the hearts are sitting on, but oh my stars and bars! You would NOT want it. Ugh, I followed some sure fire tip from an expert seamstress in how to make edges on quilts. Uh...NOOOOOOOOOO! I've never had such a horrid looking edge in my life. So it's back to the rather difficult (and hand sewn) way I used to do them. Maybe one day I'll learn a simpler way on the machine.

Anyhoo, if I get ten more followers before Feb. 13th, I'll be adding another goody!

Oh, and here's a recipe I tried today, and it is YUMMMMMYYYY!!!!! No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars. Very easy and very delish!

Friday, January 21, 2011

SEO and Links

For Part 1, please see Using SEO to get your Selling Blog Noticed.

Links to your blog naturally help in your SEO (search engine optimization) ranking. That’s because when a link to your site is on another site, it not only increases the chance of other people finding your blog (and perhaps becoming followers), but it also gets the search engines to take notice. Their little spyders will see that people are clicking on your site’s link, so they’ll “think” you must have a site of interest.

People linking to your site will come naturally if you write a blog entry that people want to refer to, if you’re having a giveaway, or if you’re just simply interesting! Your blog posts are what get people to return to your site, so make sure you have something interesting to say. Writing repeatedly that you don’t know what to write or you don’t know why anyone would want to read your blog will soon make people not want to even read your postings anymore. So post with confidence! Be interesting. People naturally want to read about other people’s slices of life. (But more on making your blog interesting in a later installment).

The thing about links, though, is if you want them to help you with your SEO ranking, they have to be one way links. It’s all well and good to have reciprocal links to your blogging friends’ blogs, and they in turn link to you, but that doesn’t help with SEO. Linking to each other doesn’t show the search engines that either one of your blogs is interesting. What makes search engines take notice is if you have one way linking; that tells them that website A thinks website B is awesome – so awesome that website A isn’t even requesting a reciprocal link from website B. In other words, the search engines see that there wasn’t any type of link trading going on; thus, your site must be interesting for others to link to you without anything in it for them. Additionally, putting your link on forums and social networks are also one way links.

Many top SEO bloggers offer what is called an a-b-c linking. Blog A links to Blog B, who then links to Blog C, who in turn links back to Blog A. Thus, there are no reciprocal links in that circle; it's all one way linking. If anyone is interested in putting together such a circle, please email me (email addy is in my profile), and we’ll make some circles!

For part three, please see The Connection Between Blog Comments and SEO Link Building.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Comments Now Moderated

Sorry, but I now have to moderate comments. Reading the instructions here, it doesn't appear as if those who have already commented will be affected, so your comments should immediately appear.

Anyhoo, I got my first spam comment today. Didn't really think it would happen, since this is a little known blog. But my post on SEO tips is on the radar somewhere, since somebody from India commented and left his url to his SEO services - lol. I suspect more will follow suit, so that's why I'm moderating comments now. Sorry about that!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Glass Bottle Art and Prim Crow Candle

These are a couple things I've done this past week. I really like how the glass jar turned out. It looks all grunged up - aged with distress ink and crinklies!




And a prim crow candle. I've never painted on a candle before. It was kinda fun!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What will the New Giveaway Goody Be?

Hmmmmm...what will the new giveaway goody be once I hit 40 followers? Decisions, decisions. I better decide soon because I'm at 37 followers now! Yay! Thank you all so much for signing up and getting the word out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Using SEO to Get Your Selling Blog Noticed

Using SEO (search engine optimization) to get your selling blog noticed by google isn’t rocket science, though it may seem like it at first. To put it simply, SEO is using keywords throughout your blog entries in order to get your blog noticed and indexed by google and other various search engines.

At this point, you may be wondering what a keyword is. Keywords are the words and phrases people type into a search engine in order to find more information about that particular topic. When they type in the subject they’re looking for into the search bar, they expect to get a list of websites that have mentioned that word or words.

For instance, if you want to find fabric on sale, you type into your search engine “fabric on sale.” Of course, that will bring up thousands of websites. These websites are listed in order of how many times they have written somewhere on their various pages “fabric on sale.” The age of a website or blog also helps with getting it higher up in the search engine, as well as one way links to that blog or site. (More on that later).

The first thing you need to do is to draw up a list of keywords for the items you sell on your blog. It’s always good to brainstorm with your family and friends on this list since we all think of differently and thus, may think of different words or phrases. You can also use this handy tool. Check the option “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.” And my oh my, what a wealth of information that handy little bugger will give you!

Once you have a list of your keywords, you’ll then know what to write about on your blog. Don’t cram all the keywords into one entry, though. It’s best to concentrate on one or two keywords or keyword phrases and write specifically about them. For the clients I write for, I usually write between 150 to 200 word entries, using a couple of the keywords or keyword phrases twice throughout each entry. By the way, more is not better in this case. If you smother your blog post with that keyword several times, the search engines will consider you to be trying to unfairly get higher rankings and they’ll blacklist you. You definitely don’t want that!

Another way of getting your keywords out there – without it being counted against you by the search engines as being too much – is to take advantage of categories or labels. On the Blogspot platform, it is directly below the box you type your entry in – i.e., “Labels for this post: e.g., scooters, vacation, fall.” Type in your keywords in that box that your particular blog post revolves around.

Two other quick and handy ways of getting your keywords on your blog post, but without fear of being blacklisted, is putting your keyword or keyword phrase in the title of the blog entry and naming any photos with those keywords. When you save a picture on your computer, label it as the keyword or keyword phrases it revolves around. Then, when you upload it to your blogging platform, it will include that in the title; the spyders that crawl websites looking for keywords will index and add those use of keywords to your tally of keywords.

Seeing is believing, so right click on any picture on a blog. Go all the way down to “Properties,” and then check out the very end of the line that has “Location” on it. Sometimes this is a very long line, so simply highlight it and carry it all the way to the end of that line. Near the end of that long line – before the .jpg or .gif extension – is the name of the photo that the person who uploaded the picture named it on his/her computer. You might as well take advantage of that extra place to put your keyword in!

Before I continue on with any more tips, please post any comments or questions in the comments section. I’ll try to answer them as best I can. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to find out for you!

For Part 2, please see SEO and Links.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Goody Added to My Blog Giveaway

As I mentioned in my original blog giveaway post, I would add another something to give away once I reached 30 followers. And I did! Yay!

So here's a rag quilt bag, made out of fabric I had left over from my brightly colored rag quilt and my blues rag quilt. It's been washed and dried once to get that "raggy" affect going. The more you put it through the washer and dryer, the cuddlier it'll look!





I think it'd be a great bag to stash fabric and other craft supplies in. Hmmm...I should probably make a bunch for myself, instead of putting my stashes in those ugly grocery plastic bags!

Another something extra will be added to the blog giveaway once I reach 40 followers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Creative Weekend

I had a very creative weekend. I got to spend a lot of time experimenting and trying new things. Wanna see?

Soy tarts. Not sure if this is how you make them, though I've seen several with a bunch of stuff in them, like this:


They're in a yummy, yummy, YUMMY fragrance called Vanilla Rum Cake. Mmmmm mmmmm!

Also finally tried my hand at mixed media glass art. With this bottle, I had every side be different. One plain because I like the texture.



Can you see the oopsie? I put wax paper on top of the picture so I could put something heavy to help get the glue to stick. Welllll...wax paper doesn't work. Peeled part of the picture right off. It actually makes it look like one of those old time photos, though. You know how some of those photos have globs on the negatives? Kinda like that. Also looks like it might be part of her hair adornment.

One side for Easter:



And one side for Christmas:



I'll probably put little wood or paper mache eggs on little dowels and stick them in the jar for Easter, and little Christmas trees on little dowels for Christmas.

Also made another little jar. Love the color!



I wanted to try a fabric embellishment instead of a photo; hence, the fabric heart glued on. I'll put little fabric hearts on sticks in this jar.

Also finished up making some Valentine's gift for my swap partner on the Prim Pals Forum. Can't show you the pictures just yet cuz she might see this post!

Worked on a quilt last week, but I fell in love with it too much to sell it. So now it's mine, all mine!! It still needs binding and sewing up the edges. Not sure when I'll get around to that since I want to really start making a bunch of things for my Etsy shop.



The black and white blur is Tessa, running through life as she usually does - lol! She had to sniff the quilt because she hadn't seen it before and then quick run away. But no, I don't let my dogs or cats sniff the things I'm going to sell. I take pictures of those in a separate room or up away from them!



I'm also going to start a multiple part series on SEO and how to get your selling blog noticed. Stay tuned for that. I have over thirty pages of articles I wrote for someone about this subject a couple years ago. Gotta go through all those articles, pick out what applies to selling blogs, and then rewrite them. Hopefully I can get the first installment posted by the end of this week. Stay tuned.

Oh, and hopefully soon I can get to 30 followers so I can add another little goody to the giveaway!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gratitude, Part 2

Well, my newfound contentment and attitude of gratitude got a test yesterday. It was just one of those days where a bunch of annoying little things piled up. Kind of like that saying of death by a thousand papercuts - lol!

It all started with discovering that the inbred's Rottweiler got into my trash and spread it all over my front porch and part of my front yard. I could tell it was the inbred's dog due to the paw prints and the fact that the lid to the garbage can was torn off. No cat could do that. The sturdy hinge that kept it from being opened to easily by cats was torn off and the lid was all bent. Then to be treated to the inbred dog's pooping and peeing all over my yard isn't too pleasant either. Of course, it upsets my dogs, but since the inbred has the right last name, he's allowed to do whatever he wants.

He's even now disrupting the peace and quiet of the town with his revving of his several snowmobiles. (Wow, they're loud). When we first moved here, a friend of my son's came over driving his snowmobile. Within 20 minutes of his arrival, the sheriff came by and told him it's illegal to drive the snowmobile in town. Of course, my son's friend didn't have an inbred last name, so he got in trouble. The inbreeds here can do no wrong.

At any rate, trash strewn all over my porch and yard didn't start the day off on a bright note, but life is what it is. Then the puppy wanted to constantly go outside (probably trying to eat the various crumbs of the trash I couldn't pick up because it was pretty much frozen into the ground by the time I discovered it). Then she barked incessantly. (Now she's barking at the snowmobile. Although now it looks like one of his snowmobiles isn't working, cuz he's being towed by a truck. * giggle* )

Then I had to do a writing job I don't particularly care to do. Now usually when I receive these types of writing jobs, I procrastinate. I dunno...I guess I hope the end of the world will come about so I don't have to do them - lol! But procrastinating only draws out my misery. There have been days that I resist doing certain writing assignments because I have to pretend I like something and give it glowing reviews. (Ugh, I hate doing that)! So, since I put it off, my "misery" lasts a whole heck of a lot longer than if I would quickly do the job.

Yesterday, I decided to be grateful for the job and went right to work. I psyched myself up when I woke up. Usually I get out of bed and think "Ugh, my whole day is ruined cuz I have to do that icky stuff." But I put a more positive spin on it. "Today, I'm grateful for this work. I'll be getting half a week's pay for just three or four hours of work." And voila! I wrote the thing up and finished pretty quickly. The words just flowed, which was great! Plus, I didn't have it hanging over my head, permeating my day. Yay!

Tessa the puppy still is an annoyance, but it's a self contained annoyance. I just looked outside because both my dogs are now barking, and...ee gads...the rottweilers are multiplying. There's now two of them in the street. Ugh!

Anyhoo, Tessa being annoying didn't affect the rest of my day. Before, I would have let it. That, and living in this icky town. When a couple of my friends visited me (on separate occasions), they each said the town reminded them of the movies Deliverance and Children of the Corn - lol! I hadn't seen either movie at that point, but I got their drift. I did see the former, and yep, I can see that comparison - lol!

So yeah, I could've done my usual drift into self pity and woe is me, "I must've died and gone to hell" routine, but I didn't. I still dislike intensely living amongst these terrible people, but I have a wonderful house that's paid for and a wonderful view out my back window. (As to how terrible the people are in this town, if you disagree with them, they'll deliberately run your kittens down in front of your eyes and kill them all. Or call child protective services on you. Yep, that happened. Not to me, but to a friend of mine. Just the usual harassment they do around here against the non-inbreds).

Am I still chipper and full of contentment despite a couple issues being brought up yesterday? Yes, I still am. I had plenty of happy moments throughout the day, all over a steadily building foundation of contentment. Whew...hope I pass the next tests!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My First Giveaway!

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm having a giveaway. As it stands now, I have 22 followers. I want to thank all of you for signing up to follow this new little blog on the prairie!

So...as they say, here's the deal. I'm going to be giving away three spiced cranberry scented grungy/grubby "candles." They're heavily scented, so you can't burn them. Plus, they have little twigs as the wicks, so no burning! They're just for decorative purposes.




Once I reach 30 followers, I will add another little goody. Then with 40 followers, I'll add something else. With each increment of ten followers, I'll add another little gift.

I'll announce the winner on February 14th; the cut-off for signing up will be 11:59 pm on February 13th. Unfortunately, due to the high costs of postage, I'll have to limit the giveaway to U.S. and Canadian addresses only.

Not only is this giveaway in celebration of the turning of the new year, but it's also to celebrate my birthday and my son's, which are in February.

In order to enter, simply leave a comment on this post and become a follower. For four chances to win, put a link to this giveaway on your blog's sidebar, and let me know in your comment that you've done so.

For another chance, since the drawing is on Valentine's Day, tell me about your first love. Mine was named (and I'm sure still is - lol) John Patrick Durkin. I was in 7th grade, and I was just waaaaay too shy to ever talk to him. I finally talked to him in high school, as I was moving to another state. Go figure!

Edited to add: I reached 30 followers, so here's another item added to the giveaway.

I reached 40 followers, so here's another goody added to the giveaway

I reached 50 followers, so here's another thing added to the giveaway.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gratitude

My life is definitely not how I envisioned it. Because of that, I guess you could say I've had a midlife crisis for the past couple years. You know...the regrets...the self-recrimination...the what could have beens. There were so many opportunities that I let slip past. There for awhile, I was kind of drowning in all my regrets. Geez, it seemed every hour there was a reminder of what could have been. With such a mindset, every thought kind of spiraled into more regret. I wouldn't say I had a full fledged depression, but oh boy...soooo much sadness and regret. So many "what ifs" and "what could have beens."

But life is what you make of it. Ohhhh, I've heard that many times...the ol' positive thinking, law of attraction...blahblah. It's hard to put into motion, especially when you want...nay, NEED...immediate positive reinforcement for your positive thoughts. How can you keep up with this positive thinking when there is so much crap and regrets around you? It's hard to re-map your thinking; you NEED reinforcement for your new way of thinking, and you need it NOW! How else will you find the fortitude to keep on keeping on with a new and positive way of thinking?

But sometimes, when we least expect it...after years of wanting to think positively...it comes. No fanfare, no big sign that says today is the first day of the rest of your life. Nothing but a slow and growing awareness.

It happened two and a half weeks ago when my computer was being particularly slow. It's a very slow thing to begin with. I have high speed internet, but no one told my computer - lol! I had to get out this rusty ol' computer last January when my laptop died. Computers aren't a luxury to me; they're a necessity because it is how I earn my living (freelance writing online). So whenever something goes wrong with my computer, I get very upset and worried.

Welllll, this ol' thing was taking its time. Now I'm not talking about taking a few seconds to load a page. Ah, now that would be a luxury! Nope, I'm talking about that it would literally take 15 minutes for a page to load. Yes, THAT long. NOT good! This happened for a good two days, no matter what I would do to try to speed it up.

I got frustrated. I got worried. I had to turn a job down. I cried...and cried and practically drowned in my self-pity.

Then there was the boy. He is a good lad, though I guess I can't call my baby a boy anymore. He's his own person and a man now. There he was...putting his hand on my shoulder as I stood hunched at my computer screen, trying not to show him I was crying. He quietly said it would be all right. He pointed out some passages he was just reading from an interview I had printed out (a 70+ page interview...rather long, eh?) I had read it a few months ago, but it's one thing to read something uplifting, and quite another to take it to heart.

The passages he pointed out to me were just what I needed. (Sorry, I'm not going to quote them or point them out, since I believe people's spirituality - as opposed to religion - are a very private matter). At any rate, something started to grow inside me. What had been laying dormant for many years finally started to grow...started to break out of that hard seed pod. Slowly but surely, gratitude started taking hold in my life. Just a small kernel, really, but then it grew to thousands of times its original size. It now permeates throughout my entire being.

I've had a day or two here and there where I woke up happy and went to bed happy, but those kinds of days didn't last long. I suppose that's because they were shallow. My attitude of gratitude was just surface deep, so obviously it would vaporize when met with a solid object - like the usual daily negativity we humans experience. Sure, it helped that I did my daily practice of thinking of five things to be grateful for everyday, but sometimes I just begrudgingly checked off the list; it didn't get to my heart.

Ever since that day of my son quietly pointing out some paragraphs, every day is a joy. Oh, I still have days where my computer acts up, but at least it doesn't take 15 minutes to load a page. Basically, nothing has changed in my life at all. Nada, zip, zilch. BUT I have changed. My heart has changed. I am grateful for everything now. Even when the toilet was getting all temperamental the other day...as I was plunging it, I was grateful for being able to have indoor plumbing all these years. Even when my favorite burner on my stove wasn't working yesterday when I really needed it, I was grateful for it having worked all these years. I was grateful that I have a stove indoors to cook on.

Some people can't understand how I can get through life without a washer and dryer. Yeah, it's a challenge, BUT I have running water indoors! Isn't that something wonderful to be grateful for! Who says we have to have a washer and dryer to be happy? Who says we have to have the latest and greatest to feel fulfilled? Whoever says that just doesn't get it. Their gratitude and contentment are just transitory.

When people talk of a loss of a loved one, why not rejoice for all the years they had with their loved one. I have never experienced a mother's or a father's love. For those who have, don't be sad that they're gone. Be happy that you had all those years together!

For two and a half weeks, I have felt contentment. There's a vast difference between happiness and contentment. To me, contentment is an inner peace - knowing that no matter what happens, it's okay, and it's going to be okay, and it will always be okay. Happiness is more of a surface thing to me...it's transitory and cannot last. Contentment sets up roots inside you and will last forever, because the spirit lasts forever.

Lessons have always been painful to me...always. Geez, if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all - you know, that kind of thing. But during this time of metamorphosis for myself, I've learned two lessons that were delightful. One, winning those heart nesting bowls. I tend to be an impatient sort, and if I had held the contest, I would've had the "ya snooze, ya lose" attitude. If the person didn't check back on my giveaway to see if they had won within a certain amount of time, I would've drawn another name. Well, they were patient...they took the time to contact me.

Another lesson occurred last Friday. I went to my friends' house to water their plants while they're spending time in California. They let me use their washer and dryer while I'm there, so I've been doing a lot of rag quilting. Welllll...it's been terribly cold here. They wanted me to shut the door to the kitchen, where the washer and dryer are, to help save the costs of running their electric heater. It was 32 degrees in the kitchen (15 below zero outside). Something happened to the washer, and when I went to put things in the dryer, I discovered the whole kitchen floor was flooded! HELP! Luckily, they had about ten towels that I could sop up the water, wring out, and sop up some more. It was a long process cuz there was a LOT of water. I felt so terrible that this happened on my watch. I was also dreading how they would react. But they were kind to me. Their immediate thought was that they were sorry I didn't have access to a washer anymore. Wow! I could get used to learning lessons through kindness. Where do I sign up for such a school!?!

My life hasn't changed one bit, but I have. And that is the key to everything. How you view what happens to you determines if you'll be contented or not.

Service to others and an attitude of gratitude go hand in hand. They're now in my hands...holding each other warmly.