Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | December 8, 2012

Playing with something new

Family collage

Family collage

The other night, I felt like having an adventure, and finally decided to do a search on something I have seen on other blogs.

It looks like photo collage, and some call it a photo mosaic. I love the concept of a collection of photos in one square, so you can show a lot with a smaller amount of space, and in one area.

I have seen some post the collage photos at the end of each month, from a collection of that month’s blog photos.

I have seen some post a collage of photos of step-by-step photo tutorials in one area, rather than as you scroll down the post.

I wasn’t sure how people were doing this, and if you need a program to do it. So, I used Google Chrome search and typed in photo collage. In an instant a very long list of options appeared. Some were sites where people have you pay to do collages for you, and make things like calendars from them.

But I noticed that some were programs for you to use, and some were free. Now, I do not know a thing about this, and so none of the names appearing were familiar to me.

I decided to click on and was smiling within less than a minute. Here is what I was looking for! A free download of the program that merges your photos that are on your computer into it and allows you to choose, crop, randomly pile, collage, or any other number of things with your photos!

I played around with it immediately. I first made a collage from old childhood photos of most of my siblings and I. The baby wasn’t born yet, sorry baby brother! Michael, the oldest brother whom we lost in September is the one in the center. I do miss him terribly at times, but I know he is pain free, and I can live without him if it means he isn’t suffering.

Then, last night I made a collage of favorite photos downloaded from facebook.

I began to try making the header for my blog from it, but soon realized the diminsions for the header were different than the collage. I didn’t like the results very well.

The face of love1

Tonight, or more this morning in the wee hours, I played around with a different layout and more photos added in so just one row of the collage could be chosen for my header. I really like how it turned out, and I think it depicts what I want to say in this blog very well. I call this collage, the face of love.


The two above are halves of one collage, but to make a header, space is limited. So, I re-invented the collage to make what I most wanted on one row, as shown below.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you haven’t played with collages before, I encourage you to play. It is quite easy, and I am sure there is a way to do better than I have. But for now, this meets my desire. Do go and play yourself soon, okay? It is nice to be able to put something together that makes you happy.


Since my personal mission statement shown on the header of this blog says that my mission is to build, keep and impart God’s love in myself and others, I thought this collage showed a nice range of pictures of love from infancy through adulthood. And this is what I am about. I like it very much.

Thanks for stopping by!


I really, really LOVE my header! I sat here at browsed a few of my favorite colorful blogs, Lucy, Heather, Jacquie, Diana Lynn, Diane Renee, and a few others. As I browsed, I would come back to my page to click another link on my blogroll. I would see my lovely header and SMILE! It looks like LOVE to me. And that makes me all warm and happy all the way through. I am feeling quite punky lately, fighting off another flu/cold and the love just made me happy.

Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | December 7, 2012

Christmas Flashmob Video and a lovely statement

Jesus was never moved by external things because He lived by His inner life and the communion He had with His Father. He knew who God would be for Him in the midst of every trial, every disturbance, every misunderstanding and every occurrence of blindness on the part of people. He was not affected by the emptiness of the people around Him. He was there to bring light. So are we. Be His light in the darkness. -Jane Hansen Hoyt

Santa worshipping the infant Savior

Santa worshipping the infant Savior

The original St. Nicholas was a bishop who was very thin. He went door to door collecting dowry money for poor young ladies so they had a chance for a good marriage. He also collected warm clothing for poor families. I am not sure what else he did, but he was known to collect and distribute needed items to the poor. The fame of him spread throughout that nation, and spread to other nations. He wasn’t a fat, jolly man as depicted after the image of him changed over the years. He loved God very much, believed in Christ as the Savior of the world, and did what God called His people to do…love one another, and love others.

Beloved let us love one another. Love is of God. God is love. Love never fails.

This is what Christmas is really all about, remember the coming of our Savior, remembering to love others and give selflessly. It doesn’t mean the most expensive gifts = more love. It doesn’t mean going into debt to give what no one even really needs. It does mean to think of others, and not just yourself. In the USA, it is getting very cold at this time of year, and I am always wanting to know if people have warm enough sleepwear.

I personally believe in giving only out of what has been provided to you, and remembering that it was God who blessed you with what you have. I believe in sharing and giving out of what you have been given all year ’round. I love giving. I am learning to love receiving, too which is a lot harder, but growing easier. The one who cares enough to give enjoys it and should see your joy at their kindness.

I love the Christmas tree, the lights, the modest decorations, the gift wrapping to make it special, the cooking, the drives to see others’ lights and decorations, the visits with people, the baking and the wonderful sharing of a special meal.

We have had years that were so lean, or there was sickness so that things were not wrapped, nothing decorated, food was not special or if it was, wasn’t able to be enjoyed. If you are having one of those years, don’t worry. This will not last forever. We have had special meals delivered to us in hospital rooms (thanks, Michael, Teri, Linda, Diane and Danny!)

What really makes it Christmas is heart. It is love. If you are too tired to think you can love, no worries. Your heart is still your heart. If it loves, it loves no matter what you feel like, no matter what you are or are not able to do. Just love and receive love, in whatever way you are able. And remember, God always loves you. No matter what. He IS love. And He says, Love Never Fails. His nature and character do not shift and change with circumstances. His Love Never Fails. I hope this helps you smile and relax.

I tried sharing this a couple of days ago, but it wouldn’t let me keep it embedded in the blog. I am hoping that by doing it this way, it will work. This is honestly one of my alltime favorite flashmob videos ever and I really want everyone to have a chance to see it. The little boy near the end just touched my heart so much! And the voices are lovely. It is from: Journey of Faith at South Bay Galleria. I really hope you can squeeze out the 5 minutes or so that it takes to watch the whole thing.


Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | November 20, 2012

Santa Ornaments made from hand print in salt dough!

I have received many, many claims from at least a dozen different people claiming the image I had posted was theirs. Several are threatening legal action, though each one is not connected to any other. Hard to know what to do, so I removed it. I discovered that each has the same image on their own site, mostly business sites selling finished items of ceramic. I got the image from the Whoot website. I always give credit where it is due, and just didn’t know where that credit belongs. So sorry for any offense I’ve created. Just wanted to share a great idea.

I would love to receive images of anyone’s handprint art that have been made from this post, and would gladly replace this image with those! Anyone game to share?

I thought this idea looked so cute! It was posted on my facebook newsfeed page. I saw a comment from someone that theirs had started rising, so I want to mention that you should only use plain flour, with no self-rising flour or baking powder added.

Also, I searched online for salt-dough recipes, and many of them use a full cup of flour to the half cup of salt.

Please be sure to seal this with a good sealant after painting. If you don’t, bugs will destroy it in time.

I just went to a local craft store when I made dough ornaments and bought one that sprayed on. You can also find them that brush on, like shellac or varnish. It is easy to find, and can be found in many forms in discount stores, as well.

I have seen these left in a round disk with the hand print in the center, too. I like this one best, trimmed around the shape of the hand.. It would also make a great turkey if you painted it as a turkey, don’t you think?

Also, I will give you a personal warning from my own experience in making dough ornaments. Even the small ones are very heavy! So, keep that in mind when you think of how thick you are making it, as well as where you will hang it or what you will do with it, okay?

I think this is such a sweet idea, and one that preserves a child’s hand size, too!

Have a happy time crafting and creating your Christmas and Holiday this year!


Here is a recipe I found from Mommy Makes@

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water
1. Combine ingredients and knead dough for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Roll dough out and cut around hand or cut circles out for making hand imprints. Use cookie cutters for ornaments or gift tags. If necessary, slightly dampen pieces to make them stick together.
3. Make a small hole for the hanger and prick to prevent air bubbles.
4. Bake at 300ºF about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. You may have to bake considerably longer depending on how thick your items are. They may not feel hard right away but will harden as they cool.
5. Paint and decorate as desired. Acrylic paints work best and use a varnish to make them shiny.

Read more at:

I also checked a recipe at:

It calls for the same proportion of ingredients as MommyMakes, but has changes in temp and time, etc. It calls for rolling out dough to 1/8″ and cutting shapes. I am sharing it here:

Original recipe makes 15 ornaments

              4 cups all-purpose flour
              1 cup salt
              1 1/2 cups warm water


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands.
  3. Knead until soft and pliable.
  4. Roll out on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. With a toothpick make a hole in the top of the ornament for threading string.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) until hard, about 1 hour.
  7. Decorate with paint and varnish to preserve.

Again, I hope you all find this helpful to make Holiday projects with your kids and spend time together having fun! These will give you something to cherish for years to come.

And please, if you know how do share pictures with us of your keepsakes with permission to add to this post! I would love to see them!

Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | November 19, 2012

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo

I realized after I posted yesterday’s post that I hadn’t put the site link for NaNoWriMo on my blog or blogroll. My apologies!

the link is here:

On the left upper area, there is a Welcome section. At the bottom of it is a link you can click to learn how NaNoWriMo works.

I know it is too late in the month to start for this year, but I hope some of you who are interested in writing a novel bookmark this site and keep in touch with it.

I say it is too late to start because the requirement is 50,000 words or more, and I forget how many pages, but it is huge!

My measly little novella that I am working on does not meet requirement at all, being only a few hundred over 8,000 words and 25 pages or so. It isn’t done, but won’t be that many words.

I am just happy that I actually am working on a story, finally and it is coming together! The fact that I am working on it in November pleased me as well, since I have known about NaNoWriMo for a few years and am always interested in it. Then I lose track of it and am not prepared or remembering at all in November. So, this is a happy spot.

There are very few rules in NaNoWriMo, but one is that it must be 50,000 words.

It must be a novel, meaning work of fiction.

It must be started on or after November 1.

It must be completed by midnight (your own time zone) of November 30th.

You must sign in officially, and as far as I have ever seen it is free.

You submit your novel for word count by the deadline.

Once it is counted, you get a badge of completion.

The fun thing is that there are parts of others’ works posted for you to read and enjoy and some tips and suggestions, motivation to keep going, and that sort of thing.

There are also local groups around the world participating on getting together regularly in November to work together and encourage each other.

They do accept work from any country and any language.

Anyway, if this is something that is interesting to you, please do check the link to the website and save it for next year. Or, if you are very adventurous and have the time, jump in!

Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | November 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo Month and the Novella

As many of you know, November each year is National Novel Writing Month.

It is a sort of competition and challenge, and there are prizes, but mostly it is just to motivate people to write an entire novel and submit it within that one month.

I have always wanted to participate, and usually end up too distracted or ill in November to think of a story, much less write one.

Truth be told, I have never written a story. I have attempted to write a couple of poems, and they are posted under the category Poem. They were spontaneous, and one was in response to a quiz I had taken online. It turned out to be a dirty rotten trick!

I was on a quiz site, and the end of this one booted me to a contest in poetry. You had to write, I think it was 20 lines of a poem. So, in the wee hours of the morning, on a work day where I got up by 5:00 a.m. to get ready for work, I wrote 20 lines, and stopped dead on the count. I didn’t like the end, but it was 20 lines so I clicked send.

They said I would have it read and “graded” by a teacher, so that seemed fun.

I turns out that it was a bogus book company, that made people pay to be published. By pay, I mean you had to buy the book. My youngest brother is a poet, and some of his stuff is really very good. He knew they were bogus, too. But, we thought it might be very fun for our mom to have 2 of her kids’ work published in the same book, so off he sent his poems in. We wanted to give her a book with both of us published in it for Christmas.

Well, we were in 2 different books, and both of ours were on page 1! See the scam? Then we “won” an opportunity to go to a convention, etc. Pay, pay, pay. Of course, neither of us went any farther, and I still laugh if I go through a box that book is in. That book with its glued on picture on the front. It appears to have been put together in someone’s basement, didn’t have the title they said on either of the books, and was so cheaply made.

I say this because that is the only writing I have done, aside from writing this blog, and writing instructions for things, which I am very good at. I haven’t even written a term paper for school! Nothing. Nada.

I do write prayers out, as well, but I don’t count that the same kind of thing as writing a novel, or story.

On to the point:

Without realizing what I was doing, that in November I had dashed out a story! It is not bad, but not great and needs a lot of work.

I was browsing my facebook feed page and came across a quote I had never seen before!

Silly that I can be at times, I took it as a challenge of sorts. To write a great story. Well, my story needs a lot of work to become great, but tonight before going to bed, my dear sister, Diana @ told me she enjoyed it! There are a couple of places in it that are too detailed and not good for people who distract easily (which we both are), but it did make her laugh and then say, what? at times. and that is what I wanted!

It is novella length, with over 8,000 words, and I have some great ideas to go with it. I am considering a trilogy! Ha-ha! My first written story and I am having to pare it down and split it up to become 3 stories. I will add to each one and am enjoying just thinking of it.

I hadn’t realized before just how much work is in writing a story. Who would have thought that taking the awesome and fun stories in your imagination could be so much work to put to paper and bring your reader to the same enjoyment you have? But it is definitely work that I am enjoying immensely.

I was quite ill the nights I was writing, but it was a great way to be able to stay upright and not lie down too much.

I have so much to learn! How do I make footnotes? How do I make the tiny little numbers where they will go with the footnotes? How do you decide where to split things into chapters? Hmmm. It’s a curious thing. Fun times!

Aside from being so ill with anaphylaxis and general allergies being at their height of glory, the writing of the story has taken my time and energy, so I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t forgotten you! I am just distracted and tired.

All of this to say, I did it! I wrote a novella length story in November! I didn’t join in the competition to share it, but I have been writing it, and have the chance to clean it up and finish it soon, perhaps before the end of the month. But we will see.

What started as a tongue-in-cheek joke has turned into a story. My nephew, Dan is a writer of short stories and has finally been published! I am so proud of him. My sister is a wonderful and creative writer, and my friend Diane is a good writer. So, I am surrounded with creative talent, and am hoping to join the ranks of the good ones. Wouldn’t that be grand?

I am so happy!

What about you?

Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

Do you like writing?

What style of writing do you prefer? Books? Poems? Instruction? Plays?

What is your genre and how does it work out for you? Comedy? Romance? Drama? Horror?

I really would love to hear from you about this! I would love to hear about your experiences as a writer and creative artist. And, I would love to read your work, if it is available to read.

Please do share with us!

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