Advertise on Life Blessons: Now Accepting Sponsors

Life Blessons has grown so much since I first started writing it back in the winter of 2009. What started as a blog that was read only by a handful of friends and family is now read by thousands of folks every month, touching hearts with stories of faith, encouraging adventures in the kitchen with recipes, offering up tried-and-true tips to make your life a little easier and just plain living life together through post after post.

Thanks to that growth, I’m now making the next step to expand the blog, which is to open up sidebar advertising options to anyone who has a blog or Etsy shop or small business you want to promote.

Life Blessons receives more than 35,000 pageviews every month (with that number growing, month after month) and more than 1,000 subscribers. On social media, Life Blessons has more than 1,500 fans and followers across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Friend Connect. Plus, I’m always looking for ways to get the word out about my blog and find new readers.

In a nutshell? There are lots of people who visit this blog every day and week and month, which means lots of opportunities for them to find out about your product and pay your site a visit.

In celebration of opening up these advertising slots, I’m kickstarting it off with big discounts, so that the first 15 advertisers who sign up before May 25th to advertise for the month of June will nab them at half off the regular rates.

Here are the discounted monthly rates you’re currently looking at:

Plus, if you lock in as one of my first advertisers by May 25, I’ll continue to honor these discounted rates for as long as you remain an advertiser! (Please email me for complete details.)

All of the advertisements will be featured in the sidebar in the “Visit My Sponsors” section, which is currently active, so you can see where your ad would be placed. The larger ads occupying the top section, medium ads in the middle section, and the smallest ads in the bottom section.

To get the discounted rate, contact me and let me know what size ad you want to purchase. Then, I will send you an invoice via PayPal, and once I’ve received your payment and ad, we’ll be all set!

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Does Blogging or Journaling Make You Happy?

The folks at BlogHer (the ad network I use on my blog, which you can learn more about here) are curious to know how blogging, journaling, writing and connecting online help increase happiness. They posed the question on their site, which you can visit here to see how other folks are answering.

As for me, I’ve mentioned quite a few times that one of the things I love about blogging is how it gives me an opportunity to encourage readers in their daily walks and lives and faiths especially. I love that I can take what God is doing in my life and share it here on this humble little site and touch hearts. God has given a purpose to my writing and used it to become bigger than it would be if it were just a diary I were keeping by my bedside. I love—and in turn find happiness from the fact—that blogging has the ability to do that!

If you want to read more, I've also written more about how blogging has helped me personally, kind of like the ultimate accountability partner. You can read more about that here.

Also, they’re running a sweepstakes over at BlogHer where—by chiming into the conversation—you can enter to win an iPod Touch and a $50 iTunes gift certificate to go with it! Click here to visit and enter.

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Explore the Archives: April 2010 on Life Blessons

It's been awhile, but I'm still plugging away at manually creating a browser-friendly archives page for all my past blog posts, month by month. I started this process last year and then took a little hiatus from it for a couple of months.

But I really love going back through the posts on this little blog of mine, so here I am again, digging back into old posts and reliving almost-forgotten memories.

Here's a look at what was going on in my life, way back in April 2010. That month, I turned 27, created a whole list of things to do for the coming year and traveled to Savannah in celebration. The same month, I also mused about God's graciousness to use ordinary people like me and we got rid of my husband's truck, making us a one-car couple ever since. I hope you enjoy getting to take a little step back in time with me:

Archive Posts from April 2010
Feel free to browse all the posts in the archive.

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There are Some Things You Only Realize Later, When You Have the Advantage of Hindsight…

One thing that never fails to astonish me is how good God is. Even in the midst of squirming and praying and pulling away. Sometimes, we just can’t see the goodness until much, much later.

That’s how it was for me…

You may not remember, but two years ago, I was in the place of squirming because I couldn’t find a full-time job and my husband couldn’t find a full-time job. He had graduated from college, with a degree to become a history teacher and there were no schools anywhere we wanted to live that were hiring for anything other than math and sciences and foreign languages.

We were subsisting completely off a freelance gig of mine that was set to expire any day now; that income was guaranteed only on a month-to-month basis, so as the 30th of every month drew near, we held our breath about whether it’d be extended for another four weeks.

Every week at community group, when it came time for prayer requests, this was what we asked for—week after week. Every week at church, when the prayer binders were passed, this was what we wrote in the little box—week after week.

It felt like our lives revolved around this instability, this constant state of uncertainty, waiting on pins and needles with no idea of what was going to come next. I wrote a little about that feeling—that burden, really—in a post here.

As it happened, there were two other folks in our church who were in similar situations—without work and wishing they weren’t. Like us, they were praying ardently for God to reverse their circumstances. Their prayer requests were much like ours and stretched on for weeks and weeks, as well.

And yet, God hadn’t answered those prayers for any of us.

We did what any twentysomething with loads of time and little cash would do: We passed the time together.

At the time, we were really into a board game called Settlers of Catan, which I would heartily recommend to anyone, with or without a full-time job. We would get together at least two or three times a week to play Settlers—trading wool and wood and wheat across the table, chatting about life, learning more about one another, spending the unexpected lull of free time that God had given us together.

This went on like that for weeks that spring and early summer.

And then, of course, God began answering those piled-up prayers. One friend got into medical school, which he’d be waiting for for years. The other, got into a program that took him away from the city. My job got extended through the end of the summer. My husband found a part-time job at Starbucks and then, weeks before my job was to officially end, he landed a full-time job with benefits.

A few months ago, when we were moving into this house of ours, my husband and I were reminiscing about all the places we used to live, and we thought back to that first apartment of ours downtown. And we recalled those lazy afternoons spent around a board game, laughing and teasing and forgetting our cares for a little while longer.

“Those are some of my favorite memories,” we said, thinking back to those days.

And it hit me: At the time, we were praying that we wouldn’t have those empty afternoons but instead would have jobs and schools and career tracks. We were praying away those afternoons and yet, now looking back from the safety and security we know now, we miss those days that poured through our fingertips like grains of hot, gritty sand on a weekend trip to the beach.

It’s humbling to look back on it all now. To be able to see it all—even just a bit—the way that God was seeing it, even back then.

Even as he was gifting us with a deeper trust and faith in him, even as he was maturing our faith and all the other pat answers that people give you for why you have to face struggles—even in all of that, he was gifting us with much, much more. He was gifting us with afternoons well spent with friends, making memories.

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How to Make a Hideaway Magnetic Recipe Board for the Inside of Your Kitchen Cupboards

One of the things I've been attempting to do with this new house of ours is to come up with smart solutions to even the most trivial of problems. Because I figure since we're going to be here for awhile, I can finally invest the time to making those updates, those arrangements that make my life living here a little bit easier.

Case in point: Since I keep all my recipes on a hodgepodge of print outs, magazine clippings and handwritten index cards, they're pretty vulnerable to getting marred by wet countertops or drops of oil or any other number of accidental encounters that come along with making something in the kitchen.

So, in my old apartment, I had a little miniature magnetic board that I'd sit atop the microwave and pin recipes up to when I was whipping something up. It worked well, but was a little small and it wasn't really all that convenient sitting on top of the microwave.

With the new house I had a vision of creating a larger magnetic board that was housed inside one of my cupboards so that I could clip my recipes up at eye-length and then just close them behind a door when I was done with them. That idea came to fruition with a well-worn cookie sheet my dad had lying around in the garage, some spray paint and some Command tape.

What you'll need:
Magnetic sheet of metal, such as an old cookie sheet, that will fit inside your cupboards
Spray paint, if desired (I used plain black for primer and then chalkboard spraypaint for a top coat)
Command sticker tape

I decided to use the bottom/back of the cookie sheet for the main surface of my magnetic board, as you can see in the first photo showcasing my materials. I took a sheet of sandpaper to it for a second to rough it up. Then, I gave it two coats of black paint to act as a primer. (Mine was glossy, but flat will work as well.) Once those had both dried, I gave it a single coat with chalkboard paint so that I could scribble notes to myself on the board, as well. (See photo above, STEP 2.)

Then I figured out where I wanted to hang the board. Fortunately, the way that our cabinets are built, the inner shelves are not flush with the cabinet door, so there's enough space for the cookie sheet to attach to the door and it still close completely. Take those sorts of things into account when choosing your cookie sheet!

You can use any kind of adhesive to attach the board to your inner cabinet, but I chose Command sticky tape because it can be so easily removed. I just used one strip and cut it in half, applying one piece to each long side of the sheet, as you can see in the photo above, STEP 3. I would have put them on the handles, where there's more surface area, but our doors are inset so the handle doesn't actually end up lying flush against the cabinet. That ended up being okay because once I hung the board, that gap along the top ended up creating a nice little tray for resting a piece of chalk so that I can quickly scrawl a note to myself!

I took a couple of magnets I've gathered with handy cooking conversions and put them up there, along with a clip magnet (like these ones) to hold the recipe du jour, like my Black Bean Burgers.

And that's it. Even factoring in the drying time, the whole project took less than 24 hours and now my kitchen is one tiny step closer to being the problem-free pantry of my dreams!

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The Power of a Little Grain of Yeast

“Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, 'Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—beware of their hypocrisy.'” (Luke 12:1)

I think sometimes it can be so easy for us, today, to look back at the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and turn up our noses at their behavior, their ignorance.

The thing is, it is so easy for us to fall into those same traps and find ourselves baking with their same yeast, that—like them—we don’t even realize the extent of it.

This was not the first time Jesus warned his followers about the yeast of the Pharisees. Even in the Old Testament, yeast had taken on a connotation of that which is to be avoided, most notably when the Israelites had to remove all yeast from the camp once a year to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which was a time of cleansing and removing sin from the community as they remembered how God delivered them from slavery. (Exodus 12:17-20)

So yeast often takes on this metaphor for sin, because it is an agent that creeps in ever so subtly and then is able to infiltrate the entire loaf. In baking my own bread, I see this in action every week. You add just a couple teaspoons of yeast—barely any compared with the amount of flour and water and milk that you use—and yet without the yeast, you cannot get a fluffy slice of bread.

It is interesting to note that in one of Jesus’ own parables, though, he takes this idea of yeast flourishing and turns it on its head, using it instead as a symbol for heaven: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough.” (Mark 13:33)

That ability of yeast—though it is added in small quantities, it grows and effects the whole of the dough—is what makes it so illustrative in these parables. 

It’s why Jesus warns his followers to avoid the yeast of the Pharisees: Not only can a little kernel of evil grow and make a good Jewish man want to see the Son of God hung on a cross, but the evil of that man can then permeate the entire of the church, of the people, of the world. The evil in a single man’s heart can multiply and affect not only himself, but also everyone around him.
And it’s there that I see the link between me and those long-ago Pharisees. Yes, they cheered when Jesus died, whereas I cheer that Jesus was raised from the dead. But the fact is that, for both of us, what evil we allow in our own hearts, what pain we cause through our own actions, has incredible ramifications that go much deeper than we realize.

What I do and say and think and don’t do or say or think affects those around me. If it’s good, it can encourage more good, just like in the Kingdom of God parable. But if it is bad, like that of the Pharisees, then it can be a poison to the world around me. To my husband, to my family, to my friends, to my church.
Just as the disciples were warned to beware the yeast of the Pharisees, so I realize that I must beware the yeast in my own heart. Who knows what could come of it?

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Opening the Curtains on a New Day

One of my favorite daily rituals is waking up early and walking the house, opening the curtains and blinds as I go. From room to room, letting the rising, glittering sunlight wash in after a long night’s slumber.

I’ve never had so many windows in one living space. It still feels so luxurious to have so many to open and close, whenever I have the fancy.

There’s something soothing about the task of letting the sunshine in, watching rooms light up as I make my way through the house.

I pull the shades to the side, twirl the blinds into place and watch my plants bask in the morning’s glow. I look out over our yard and see if there have been any changes from the day before. The leaves are tousled, maybe there’s a squirrel stowing seeds or a bird bouncing from branch to branch.

It’s so simple, really. It’s life at its most basic. The sun comes up and then goes down, and so we follow along with it.

Sometimes I wonder why life seems like it’s always on repeat; why the dishes may be clean for an afternoon but soon they’re dirty all over again. Why you can make one good meal but then you are faced with another to make. Why you can have one incredible day, but it soon resets and you have to face it all over again.

And yet, that’s the beauty of it all. It’s a constant reminder that a new day will always dawn. There’s always another chance to throw open the curtains and let the Son shine in. No matter what yesterday may have held—heartache or hunger, health or happiness—there’s always another day to draw closer to that which truly matters, to remember what we’re here for, and that somehow he holds all of this—the sun and all of it—in his hands. Even us.

Little, old us. Rising and falling with each day of the setting sun. With the choice to rise and fall with the Son that set it all in motion in the first place.

Here’s to opening the curtains wide and basking in the Light of the world.

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Better Blogging: A Complete Recap of all the Posts in this Series

For the past few weeks, we've dug deep into the Better Blogging series that I've been running, responding to a lot of questions and comments that have come my way. I've covered a bunch of different topics, from making money with my blog to keeping my blog statistics in-check to retracing the history of my blog to sharing the specific gadgets I use to make it all happen.

It's been fun exploring all these different aspects of blogging, and I hope that if you blog, or if you've been thinking about blogging, you've found them helpful and encouraging.

And just in case you missed any of the posts, here's a complete list of all the posts in this Better Blogging series:

And if there's something else that you're looking for about blogging—whether it's design tips and tutorials or why I chose Blogger or resources for doing book reviews—you can see a complete, compiled list of those posts here.

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Oatmeal Carrot Cake Cookies Recipe

I recently reorganized my recipe file (which you can see a sneak peek of what it actually looks like here). I usually take some time once every few months to do some pruning to the clippings and cut-outs, getting rid of the ones I don’t use and making it easier to find my favorites when I do.

In my overhaul, I also decided to refine some of the categories. When I first started my recipe collection (before I even met my husband!), I had your bare-bones basic groups (chicken / pasta / beef / etc.) and then one “Miscellaneous” section that became a catch-all for everything from snacks to sauces, beverages to BBQ sauce. That category has swelled, along with a couple others, so I added some new dividers to help cull the chaos and simplify retrieving the right recipe.

One of the newest categories includes: Desserts: Hidden Fruits & Veggies. (Seriously.) These are some of my favorite recipes because they taste oh-so-good but include a nice helping of something healthy in them, so you don’t feel too bad snick-snacking on them in the middle of the afternoon.

This “Oatmeal Carrot Cake Cookie” recipe is one that found its way into that section, since it includes a good punch of carrots, raisins and oats.

1 cup rolled oats
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground flax seed
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup packed, grated carrots
1/3 cup raisins
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 large egg

Mix together all dry ingredients (oats, flours, sugars, spices) so that evenly incorporated. Add in carrots and raisins, mixing well. Separately, in a small bowl, mix together the melted bowl and egg. Pour the butter-and-egg mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well until combined.

Shape dough into cookies (roughly 2-inches in diameter) and place on baking stone (here's the one I use and love) or greased cookie sheet, leaving an inch or two between each cookie. (It’s easiest to just roll up your sleeves and shape the dough with your hands.)

Bake cookies in oven at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, until edges of cookies are browned and middles are not gooey. Makes about 10 to 12 cookies, depending on how large you shape them.

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How We Spent Our Spring-Break Vacation: A Trip to Washington, DC

At the end of March, my husband and I had the sweet opportunity to leave Atlanta behind for a few days, board a plane to the coast and spend time in our nation’s capital with my husband’s family.

Here’s a little bit of how we spent our time in Washington, DC:

Taking an elevator to the top of the Old Post Office and squinting to see past the horizon as roads turned into strings and massive stone buildings into specks down below.

Walking around the White House grounds, peering at the backyard garden and trying to snap pictures through the fence bars.

Visiting the Library of Congress. Seeing the Gutenberg Bible. Looking at copies of Jefferson’s drafts of the Declaration of Independence.

Sitting outside the Capitol building, wondering what all is going on inside.

Standing puny beside the huge stone sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and reading the words of the Gettysburg Address carved into the walls.

Opening eyes wide to take in the whole of the Washington Monument, stretching high into the sky.

Wandering the grounds of Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s estate. Being impressed by the bright, leafy green walls of the dining room and a shocking shade of teal in another; I took a color palette home with me because I was so enamored with his decorating sensibilities. (Unfortunately, they wouldn’t allow photography inside the building.)

Looking out over the Potomac River and peering into Washington’s tomb.

Somberly walking around the WWII Memorial, taking in the breadth of the sacrifice those men gave. Being thankful that neither my husband or I have had to put our lives on the line for peace like that.

Admiring breathtaking skeletons of manatees and wooly mammoths, mice and men and a few mummies for good measure at the Natural History Museum.

Walking among live butterflies and trying to capture their fluttering wings on film while they darted from flower to flower, fern to fern and occasionally took a break to land on my sweater or jeans which just made me giddy.

Finding new restaurants. Splurging on Starbucks each day. Taking breaks at Barnes & Noble and thumbing leisurely through a huge stack of home décor magazines.

Riding the subway and getting to know the colors and stops and street corners. Going to bed early because of all the walking we did, traipsing about until our feet were sore.

But more than all the site-seeing and subway-riding and sandwich-eating was spending time with family, whom we typically only get to see once or twice a year. Catching up with lives and leisurely things that otherwise go invisible amid the long-distance connection. Watching one another grow and grin and learn and laugh. Together.

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The History of My Blog and How It's Grown Over the Past Two Years: Developing Quality Content (Part 4)

In retracing the evolution of this blog over the past two years, I’ve talked about how I first launched it and why I started it, how I’ve tried to increase traffic as well as my approach to designing a brand for my blog. (If you missed any of those, you can follow these links to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

Those are all important facets but they neglect one big aspect: What you actually say on your blog.

Because you can have all the traffic and the slickest design in the world, but if what you’re saying isn’t worthwhile, then, in my opinion, it all is in vain.

When I first started this blog, I knew I wanted to approach it differently. I wanted to make it the kind of destination spot that other blogs had become for me: Ones that were filled with ever-evolving content, content that impacted my life.

I wanted to write, first and foremost about my faith and share the testimony of what God is doing—daily—in my life.

But I also wanted to write about practical, everyday stuff, too, like what I was learning in the kitchen as I made humble attempts at wholesome cooking or how we were finding ways to live on a budget or my latest endeavors to decorate our living spaces. As well as what was simply going on in my life.

But, looking back, it seems like a lot of those early posts were just thrown on the page.

I think it took me awhile to come into my own as far as nailing down the content that I share at Life Blessons and, more importantly, how I share it. Now, I feel like I have more of a rhythm, sharing a variety of posts on a few key topics, from cooking to crafts, faith to finances.

I also feel like I’ve learned how to pour more of myself into those posts, rather than just slapping a recipe in the content field and pushing publish.

I think that has been one of the changes that I’ve made to the blog that I have loved the most: These posts challenge me to be vulnerable, to tear open the situations that I might otherwise like to forget or ignore and pour them out onto the table so that you might learn from them, might be challenged by them, might be inspired by them.

That kind of writing—with a willingness to be humbled by my own words—has made me look at myself more squarely in the face and see my faults more clearly. It has not only benefited the writing and the posts. Even more so, that practice has helped me on a personal level deal with my sins and my weaknesses and has challenged me to dig into my relationship with God more so that I can share that progress here.

This little blog of mine has become quite an accountability partner over the years!

In doing so, I feel these posts have become more real and more raw, which is the kind of writing I have always personally been attracted to. I am not a squeaky-clean, have-it-together person. So I don’t want to read something where someone else is claiming that façade. (Because let’s face it, no one has it all together!)

It has at times been a challenge to be so open and honest, but I know it is for the better—for this blog and for me. And in doing so, I’ve never once regretted one of those vulnerable posts I’ve made. Your comments and encouragements and admissions that you’ve been in that very same place have helped me continue to do so in confidence.

It’s been a long journey, this little blog of mine. It has definitely not been an overnight success; it has been one I have been constantly working at for more than two years, a labor of love.

But because I love it, because I keep on, keep on working on it, it is what you see before you today: A blog that I’ve been writing for more than two years, and I feel like I’m just getting started.

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The One Thing We Didn’t DIY This Year

This spring marked a first for me: It was the first time I paid someone to do my taxes.

For a died-in-the-wool DIY-er who makes her own bread, bodywash, pizza sauce and salad dressing, who takes it upon herself to fix a broken window, mend her own clothes, and even try to grow her own food, well, it should be obvious that I like to be able to do things on my own.

There’s some satisfaction in being able to say “I made that” or “I did that,” to know how something works well enough to do it yourself. There’s a sense of self-reliance and independence in taking up hammer or rolling pin or trowel and go at it yourself, wearing the smudges of ensuing dirt and flour and paint like badges.

But every year when it rolls around to April 15th, I find myself stuck and stalled by one thing that I haven’t yet managed to conquer on my own: taxes. As someone who works from home, there are a myriad of tax-benefits available to me and that right there is what takes something that can be a simple fill-in-the-blank sort of scenario into one that, in our household, turns into hours spent typing in numbers, looking up definitions, rifling through receipts and piling up papers.

We’ve tried the DIY approach to doing our taxes, buying different levels of the tax software that’s out there, from the free stuff to the $100-a-pop professional edition. They all end up with the same result: utter frustration.

Last year, we even pretty much gave up on trying to take any deduction or write-off other than the standard deduction.  We knew there were lots of ways we could trim our bill down (because we did end up owing quite a bit), but we simply didn’t know what to do with it all. So, in defeat, we threw our hands up to the whole process and just stopped trying to sort it out, which only absolved some of the stress.

This year, though, we decided, kind of as a last-ditch effort to save our sanity, we hired a CPA to do our taxes. It was a woman recommended by one of my husband’s coworkers. I spent a few days ahead of time—in mid-February—preparing all our receipts and expenses and income and bills, typing them tidily into Excel spreadsheets.

We went into the meeting and within an hour had tackled what would have taken us an entire weekend spent trying not to be short with one another, trying not to get irritated with the system, trying not to hate every single second of it.

Instead, we walked out of there without any of the aggravation and a sense of relief that someone who knew what they were doing was able to walk us through the over-our-head process. For the peace of mind, I considered it a wise use of money. And, we got back a nice return, to boot, so there was nothing to complain about!

Sometimes even for the most ardent of DIY-ers, there's a time to call in the pros. For me, I have decided that tax time is the right time for us to do just that!

Tomorrow’s the last day to submit your taxes. How was the process for you?

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Encouragement for the Times When You Want to Give Up Blogging

One comment I've received from a couple of readers who blog is:


You know what? I understand that sentiment all too well. And I think most bloggers—even the most successful of them—have all been at that same point, as well.

They say that most blogs don’t make it to the one-year mark. When I first started out, I read that statistic and made it my goal not to give up before that anniversary.

Because so much of blogging can be discouraging and make you think you’re wasting your time, there are lots of times when I’ve felt like giving up, especially when comments and emails are few and posts are plenty.

But the truth is that every blogger has been there. Most of the rockstar bloggers who are big have been around for a long time and it's taken them years to build up that kind of success. And even though there are some whose blogs have gotten a ton of exposure in a short bit of time, I firmly believe that’s the exception rather than the rule.

The important thing is not to dwell on how many people read Pioneer Woman as opposed to your blog, but to accept that blogging is a process. I am sure there were days when Pioneer Woman herself thought about throwing in the towel. But look where she is now—because she stuck with it.

We have to stop dwelling on the things we can’t control—like how many people visit a blog or leave a comment—and instead deal with the things we can control—like whether we’re writing quality content and taking time to pen compelling stories. You might feel like you don’t want to “waste” good posts if no one’s going to read them, but you shouldn’t look at it that way. Because you can always repost the best ones later, if you want. But when people come, if the best isn’t already there, why would they stick around?

Start now making a blog that you’re proud of, and eventually other people will catch on, too.

And don’t forget that it’s something you can pray about. It may not be full-time ministry, but blogging can affect people’s hearts and souls. So if you’re struggling for inspiration for blog posts, pray about it. Pray for your readers who visit your blog. Pray for ways to get the word out about those posts. The Lord cares about so many things. If your blog matters so much to you, don’t you think it matters to him, too?

This post is part of my Better Blogging series, where I respond to some of the most common questions that I receive about blogging. Feel free to read all of the posts in this series here.

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From Brassy to Flashy: Transforming A Pair of Lamps for Our Bedroom

My husband and I are both big read-before-bedtime folks, with a stack of books on both sets of nightstands. But hoisting lamps onto the nightstands to aid that nightly routine has proved more bulky than I liked, with much of the nightstand taken up with the lamp base instead of books. To free up some space, I'd long wanted to mount some wall lamps to either side of our bed.

One day, as I was strolling a thrift store, I came across a brass, plug-in, spring-arm lamp, which reminds me of the kind you see in hotels. I knew those kinds of lamps often show up at secondhand stores, so I grabbed that one up (after testing it to make sure it worked, of course!) and trusted that I'd be able to find a second one to make a pair.

A couple of months later, I had my pair. But gold is not my decorating color of choice, so I turned to one of my tried-and-true decorating accomplices: a can of spraypaint. For this project, I used Krylon's Premium Original Chrome, which they sent me to try out for this project. I taped up the lamps' cords and light switch, stuffed the light socket and other open areas with tissues to protect them all from the paint.

Then it was time to get painting.

I know there are lots of metallic paints out there and I've tried my fair share, which often end up being disappointing imitations of silver, more gray or glittery than bright and shiny. But the chrome from Krylon was the exception; with the first coat it was a bright silver that I was going after for this project:

The paint when on smoothly, but I did find that it took it a long time to cure or else it would easily show smudges and fingerprints, ruining the finish. While the can itself recommends just a few hours to dry, I looked online and found other folks had to give their projects weeks. (Given that, I'd recommend only using it on projects that won't have to withstand much direct touching. Fortunately, we don't do much re-adjusting of the lamp arms and only have to turn the knob, so it works fine for us.)

Even with the lamps themselves painted, there was also the pesky issue of the cords. I liked that they plugged in because then we didn't have to worry about drilling into walls and hiring an electrician and all that. But those garish yellow cords did nothing for our decor. So, I decided to cover them up.

I did some research about whether you could safely paint the cords themselves and came up with conflicting information. So I decided to play it safe and wrapped them with some black electrician's tape and then painted that with the same color of paint that we used on the walls, a gray color from Mythic Paint. (You can read more about painting our bedroom walls and the exact color we used here.)

The nice thing about this safer-than-sorry solution, is that if I ever want to go back to the original color (doubtful, but you never know), all I have to do is peel the tape away and so goes the paint, no harm done!

At that point, it was time to mount them on the walls and put on some lamp shades. As it turns out, my parents had some small sconce shades in their basement, which they let me have when I was in town over Christmas. Can you believe how perfectly they match our wall color?! Oh, serendipity:

I still have yet to figure out what kind of art I want to put over our bed, but, as usual, I'm taking my time to find (or make!) the piece that's just right for this spot, which now sits squarely between these fully functional and perfectly matching lamps that are a piece of work in and of themselves. Don't you think?:

And a shot with the lights turned on:

Find out more about Krylon’s huge variety of spray paints—there’s one for nearly all your craft and DIY needs—by visiting their website. You can also like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter

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