Anchors Aweigh : January 2014

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The Moving Game

I mentioned on Monday that moving can be really fun. Yes the packing is tedious and the loading/unloading furniture makes me want to run to the nearest chiropractor, but the whole process is exciting. We are less than 2 weeks out from another move, so we are currently playing what I like to call "The Moving Game". This is the completely made up game where we see how empty we can get the refrigerator and how much we can downsize before it's time to move.

Dinners are going to become less than blog-worthy as I serve Parker tuna with a banana with yogurt and a side of almonds. Wife of the year, right? Thankfully he is a guy and will literally eat anything I put in front of him. Thank you Lord for an easy husband. It's all about emptying that fridge and clearing out those cabinets.

We started going through our closets and making a pile of clothes we haven't worn in a while or items that have just been collecting dust since our last move. Now granted we hadn't done this in a while, but we had a trunk load ready to go to Goodwill in no time. It seems just a little ridiculous, especially for a couple who seems to move like it's a casual hobby.

So now I am trying to adapt a new art form: the art of downsizing. We have a lot of things sitting on shelves that we don't touch. We have picture frames in closets still taped up from our last move...literally. We have gadgets and gizmos that really just junk up the room, for lack of a better way to say that. Parker and I talked about this a lot one night this week, and the next morning we both jumped out of bed and started grabbing things to donate. If we haven't used it since we moved to Kingsville last May, it's clearly something we can live without. That was our rule of thumb as we rummaged through our things, and we couldn't believe just how many items fell into this category!


In light of this new downsizing concept, we will be playing the moving game on steroids. Less clutter, less stuff, less stress. That makes sense, right? One of my goals is to be more organized with our life and with our things. I used to be so organized and have everything sorted and stacked perfectly. I don't know what happened, but that Chelsea is no more. Chelsea version 2.0 would lose her head if it weren't attached. Seriously, it's bad. In organizing one room at a time, I was able to identify what we needed, what we would like to keep, and what was just unnecessary moving forward. Adopting this philosophy has Parker and I energized and excited about the future and living in a new place!

Have you ever gone through a downsizing phase? Did you just take a breath of fresh air at the end of it all?

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Carrier Qualified


As I mentioned on Friday, Parker was away last week getting qualified to land the jet on the carrier. This is a really big step in his Naval aviation journey and a dream come true for him. I wanted him to write it down before he forgot any details from this accomplishment (consequences of having a blogger for a wife), and I am really excited to share it with all of you. Take it away, Parker!

....................................

God has given me many blessings in my life.  One of these blessings is the opportunity to serve my country in the United States Navy as a Student Naval Aviator (SNA). Naval aviation has a proud and distinguished history of carrier based flight operations. As you can imagine, a big milestone for any SNA is their first time to visit “the boat.”

For anyone that has read the blog for any amount of time, you know that I have been in training for a while. Since I have selected tailhook, I have known that at some point in my future I was going to be landing on a moving ship at sea. Despite countless hours in the airplane practicing for this culminating event, there are a lot of nerves associated for the first visit to the boat.

My first view of the boat was coming in a division with my “foxes.” From our vantage point at altitude, the boat looked more like a tugboat than an aircraft carrier. Exiting the marshal pattern to come in for the break was both exciting and terrifying. If there is one thing that we have learned from the guys (and gals) who have come before us, it is the importance of being on your A game around the ship.

As a student, we start out the first day at the boat with touch and go landings. The first time I rolled into the groove, my heart was pumping and adrenaline rushing. There are a few things that are more difficult than landing on shore. The ship (and thus the landing area) is constantly moving away from you (left to right). Also, the ball, our glide-slope indicator, is “heavier” due to the ship’s movement.  Luckily, training kicks in and saves the day. After the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) thinks a student is safe to land aboard the ship, he instructs them to put their tail hook down.

My first arrested landing was a bit of a shocker. Imagine going from ~120 knots (140 mph) to stopped in 1 second. This is what I imagine driving my car into a brick wall might feel like (sans airbag deployment). After this car crash, I am safely on deck and taxi to get gas. Unfortunately, there was an issue with my aircraft that required me to change jets. After hot switching, (getting out the jet while it was still on) I taxied to the catapult. 

This photo is not of me but is from the same detachment I was on. Credit: Navy
 The catapult uses steam to accelerate the jet from zero knots, back to 120 knots in just a couple of seconds. This was by far my favorite part of the carrier experience. There is a brief exchange of information between the pilot and the deck crew, the pilot salutes the shooter, the shooter salutes back, and away the T45 goes.

In total, each student who qualified got 10 traps (arrested landings aboard the ship) and 10 catapult shots. It was hard, but I completed the training and became carrier qualified. It was definitely a great experience and a great way to end my training in the T45. 

Chocked and chained. Waiting to start day 2.
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9 Things I Won't Blog About

I am a pretty open book on this blog. I love to share about our adventures in the military, our faith, our struggles, etc. My family and friends joke that I am going to turn our latest conversation into a blog post... guilty? Sometimes. This little corner of the Internet has become my space to write about almost everything, but there are a few topics I just won't touch.

1. Going Gluten Free
I love eating healthy as much as the next person, but I really don't understand the movement behind the gluten free diet. Obviously if you have celiac disease, I get it. Of course you will lose weight by cutting carbs, but how much healthier can a gluten free pastry be than a regular pastry? I love breads and cookies and cakes, so I work out so I can have them. If you're going to do something wrong (like eat a giant chocolate chip cookie), do it right and have your cookie a la gluten. I probably just lost a few readers with that confession. Honestly, to each his own, but I don't think the gluten free thing is for Parker and me.


2. Running a Marathon
This one seems hypocritical since I am currently training for a half marathon, but let me explain. I have no intention of running a full marathon. Ever. These joints just can't handle that. I know they say running can be addictive, but I plan to check the half marathon off my bucket list and continue to run for fun afterwards. No 26.2 miles over here, please. For those of you who run full marathons, yall are studs!

3. Wine
I think wine tastes nice sometimes, but Parker and I are the worst wine drinkers ever. We know nothing about anything wine-related. If you quiz us and ask us if Cabernets, Pinot Noirs, and Pinot Grigios are red or white, we will fail. I've heard those names, but I have no idea what they taste like... or mean, for that matter.

4. The Arts
And by the arts, I mean singing, dancing, acting...you know, the arts. I am one of the least gifted individuals in this area that you will ever meet. I can't match pitch, I have two left feet, and I don't foresee many casting calls in my future.

5. Cats
We are dog people. If you've read this blog long, you probably aren't too shocked by this confession. We love our pup! Parker is also allergic to cats, so that eliminates the possibility altogether even if we had the desire to adopt a feline friend.

6. Politics
I have an opinion, but it's just not something I feel like talking about on this blog. Politics can get people pretty heated, so I am a fan of avoiding the subject altogether. I also don't think I am educated enough on the matter of politics to discuss it.

7. Video Games
Okay yall, I didn't grow up with brothers. I thought video games meant playing Super Mario when you were younger and then graduating to watching television and playing on your iPhone. Then I got married. Why do boys love video games so much? I honestly have no idea, so I am not going to write about it. That said, you would think I would since this is a lifestyle blog, and video games certainly seem to have a constant presence in our lives.

8. Make-Up Tricks
If someone would like to come over and teach me how to put on make-up like an adult, I would greatly appreciate it. I equate my make-up skills to that of a 4 year old's finger painting ability. It's just not the prettiest, but I do what I can.

9. My iPad
I have a laptop and a smartphone, so I think getting an iPad would be slightly redundant. Technology on technology on technology for days!

So there you have it. Those are the 9 topics that will likely never grace this blog. Never say never, though. I could always become a marathon running, cat loving, video gaming wino in the future. Stranger things have happened, I'm sure.
 
 
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King Ranch Casserole

If you're from Texas, you've likely had some version of this tasty goodness. King Ranch Casserole is just southern comfort food. It can be made so many different ways, but I love this recipe because it's quick and easy. This dish also freezes really well! Make it for a potluck or just a weeknight meal where you need to please the husband. It's a one dish meal and it's topped with cheese. Really, what more could we all ask for?

Ingredients:

1 lb of chicken, cooked and shredded
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) can Rotel
1 Tbsp chili powder
10-12 corn tortillas, roughly torn into about 1 inch pieces
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, soups, Rotel, and chili powder.
3. In your baking dish, layer half of your torn tortillas followed by half your chicken mixture followed by a layer of cheese. Repeat once more.
4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake another 10 minutes or until bubbly.


Enjoy!

Thanks, Navy

One of our favorite parts (okay, probably our favorite part) of Navy life is moving. I might be certifiably insane for saying this, but we really do get so excited each time we move. Moving can be seen as a huge inconvenience, and understandably so. It's not fun to pack up your entire house and then unpack it all, switch all of your utilities, and forward your mail. I am not going to sit here and lie and say that it's not an inconvenience, but I do mean it when I say that the positives outweigh the negatives.

Getting to explore a new place is just plain fun. We enjoy meeting new people and have met some of the greatest people on the planet through the Navy that we never would have known otherwise. Most people wouldn't really consider getting to live in Kingsville, Texas hitting the jackpot. It's a small town in every sense of the term. We don't have a Target. We don't have a mall. We don't have a Costco. We do, however, have some of the nicest people I have ever met. We have quick and easy access to the beach. We have sunny days almost every day of the year. Those little things make living here such a treat. Of course we are biased because we are Texans through and through and genuinely love this state so much. Seriously though, it's been an awesome place to be stationed. We will be moving at the beginning of February, and we will really miss this place. We are excited for our next adventure just up the road in Corpus Christi, but it's sad to close the door on this chapter in Kingsville. The Navy truly has sent us to some awesome places, and I know it's only going to get better.

Parker and I took the Jen pup to a random little beach we found south of Kingsville this weekend and had the best time. We really do feel so lucky to live here. I mean seriously, how great are these views? We definitely don't have the nicest beaches, especially having lived previously in Pensacola, but a beach is a beach is a beach. Am I right?



We are excited for our next adventure, but we will definitely miss this place. We are so happy to have gotten to live in Kingsville for the past 9 months. They flew by, but they were a blast. Thanks, Navy.


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High Highs and Low Lows

Most weeks are filled with some sort of ups and downs, but this week was on steroids. I can't remember a week that was filled with so many high highs and so many low lows, but I will say, I think my heart rate would prefer a little more normalcy moving forward. Let's start out with one of the lows since it's always better to end on a high note. 

Low of lows: We had a pretty big health scare with Jenny this week. I returned from my sister-in-law's wedding to a very sick Jenny. I left Friday, and she was perfectly fine. Saturday, my friend who was watching her noticed she was acting strange. There really wasn't anything I could do being a plane ride away, so I tried to just put it out of my mind and deal with it when I returned home. When I got home Sunday, Jenny was in so much pain. She hobbled over to me when she saw me, laid her head on my shoulder, and just stayed there. She could barely walk, and she couldn't sit or lay down on her own. I literally had to force her feet from under her to get her in a laying position. She was shaking, weak, and scared. What in the world happened to my perfectly healthy baby?! I was a wreck. Long story short, I took her to the vet, and praise God he was able to diagnose her. She had a bacterial infection that was making its way through her body, causing extreme soreness and pain in her muscles. Her prescribed an antibiotic, and she is doing soooo much better. I am so thankful for a vet who was able to pin point what was wrong and fix my baby. 
 
You may be wondering how she got the bacterial infection. Let's back up to Friday afternoon. Jenny caught a cat outside, put it in her mouth, and shook it around. She's not so sweet to the felines. We separated them as soon as we could, and the cat was fine. Jenny had a few scratches on her ears, so we gave her a bath and neosporin and called it a day. Apparently one of those scratches was a bite mark. Our vet told us that cats have some of the filthiest mouths of all animals and that they are filled with bacteria. One little bite on the ear, and Jenny was instantly infected. Again, I am so thankful the vet diagnosed this right away and knew how to treat it. It was one of the scariest weeks of my life because I really thought we might lose her, but God is good and our story had a happy ending.
 
 
High of highs: I conquered 8 miles this week! The half marathon training continues, and I was so pleased with my last run of the week. Weather conditions were perfect, I had just found out awesome news for Parker (see next point), and I was just on cloud nine. Sometimes running is such a chore and I would literally rather do anything else, but sometimes there are those runs that just feel so good the entire time.


Highest of highs: Parker is a carrier qualified aviator! He has been getting ready for a month now to go out and land on the carrier, and he passed! I am so proud of him! One step closer to those wings of gold. I love getting to witness his dreams come true, and finding out he qualified was the best feeling. I'm a pretty big fan of that kid!
 

All in all, it was a really blessed week for the Phelps trio. It was stressful beyond belief, but God got us through it. I am ready for what I hope will be a very stress-free weekend. I wish the same for all of you!


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We Signed Up For This Life, They Didn't

This past weekend was a really special weekend for the Phelps family. My sweet sister in law, Parker's only sibling, got married to the love of her life. We had been looking forward to this day for months. I was a bridesmaid, and Parker was a groomsmen. We couldn't wait to spend the weekend with family and friends to celebrate their union. And then, life happened. Well really, the military happened. Parker was scheduled to leave for a det with the Navy the day of her wedding. He did everything he could to try to fly out the day after the wedding so he could be there, but a schedule is a schedule and the Navy did not let him go. He missed his little sister's wedding.

I flew down for the wedding to represent the Phelps trio, and it was a beautiful wedding. I am so glad I got to be there, but I have to admit, it was really difficult not having Parker there. Walking down the aisle as a bridesmaid and not seeing Parker standing up there as a groomsmen was tough. Seeing the same unity candle that we lit and not being able to smile at Parker was tough. Hearing one of our favorite songs played during the ceremony was tough, but I could handle it. 

I could handle it because Parker took an oath to protect our country. I could handle it because I took vows on our wedding day and promised to stand by him no matter what, and I meant it with complete conviction. Guess what though? Our families and friends didn't take these oaths and vows. Parker and I knew what we were signing up for in this life, and we both did it willingly. It's not fair to expect someone to completely support this lifestyle who didn't sign up for it, though. Part of me was nervous to tell everyone that Parker couldn't come to the wedding. I knew his immediate family would understand, but would extended family and friends understand too? Rationality says if you have something important like your sister's wedding, you take off work and do whatever you can to be there. Rationality says Parker could have made it more of a priority and somehow been there. That works for the typical 8-5 job- it doesn't work for the military. 

If there is anything this past weekend taught me, it's this: our families rock. Everyone at the wedding of course mentioned how much they wish Parker was there, but they were so gracious and understanding about why he wasn't. Family and family friends who feel like family came up to me all night to tell me how proud they were of Parker and how much they loved him. They could have chosen to be angry and annoyed that he wasn't at the wedding. They could have refused to try to understand, but they didn't. The love and support they showed me and expressed for Parker made my heart smile and filled me with so much joy. They didn't sign up for this life, but they are invested in us and love us unconditionally, through the things they understand and the things that sometimes don't make sense when you aren't used to this lifestyle. Basically, this is my way of thanking our families and friends for being so supportive. It means more than any of you know.

Here's a quick shot of me and the beautiful bride!


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Pinterest & Blogging 101: Tips and Tricks

I decided to create a little mini-series on how to maximize your blog through Pinterest for all you fellow bloggers out there, particularly new bloggers. I never really realized how great Pinterest could be for my blog until I took a chance and decided to pin some of my recipes. I've been blogging for a year now, and let's look at my top 3 posts of all time, according to pageviews:

1. Crockpot Cocktail Weenies
2. Crescent Sausage Breakfast Casserole
3. 3 Ingredient Crockpot Pulled Pork Sliders

Each one of these posts has over 2000+ pageviews and counting, all because I decided to pin them to Pinterest. That may not be many pageviews for some bloggers, but it's pretty high for me! Pinterest can do a lot for your blog, especially if you like to post recipes, DIY ideas, cleaning and organization tips, etc. First I talked about how to verify your website on Pinterest. Last week, I taught you how to create the "Pin It" button. Today, let's wrap up this miniseries with a few tips and tricks I've learned along the way.



1. When you pin your content on Pinterest, upload a photo that is relevant to your blog post and highlights your offering. When browsing Pinterest, the image is what catches your eye, not the description. If you pin a blog post with no pictures, you will be forced to pin it under an image on your blog template, like your header. Nobody is going to click on your famous spaghetti recipe if it's a picture of your blog header, so make sure you have a picture of that fabulous spaghetti so people will get to pinning.

2. When you pin your content, use searchable, descriptive terms in the description box. This will help your content show up in search engines as well as searches within Pinterest. For example, if I were pinning my favorite pumpkin bread, I wouldn't describe it as "Parker's favorite meal ever" because that has no meaning to anyone but me. Instead, I would say "Pumpkin bread- delicious and easy".

3. Create multiple pin boards for different content. This will allow you to separate your content into categories so your pins will show up in those categories on Pinterest. For example, I have a separate pin board for diy and recipes, and I have another board where I have pinned all of my wedding posts. All pins are coming from the same website (my blog), but separating them into categories makes it easier for others to find and pin your content.

4. Repin old content when it is relevant. Sometimes, you will pin something only to have it get lost in a sea of other pins. It may get repinned once or twice, but that's it. This may happen, but there is no rule saying you can't repin it. I am not suggesting you repin your content every day or even very often at all (let's face it, that would be annoying), but repin it when it is relevant. For example, I might repin my DIY wedding invitation Christmas ornament again next December. It was a popular pin this Christmas season, and I think I can reintroduce it next Christmas as well. 

5. Pin your content during peak Pinterest times. Believe it or not, this is a real thing folks. According to a recent study, Pinterest has the most activity between 2-4 PM and 8:30PM-1AM. However, Saturday morning is by far the best time for pinning. If you can't pin during peak times, you can use an app called Pinwoot that allows you to pin content in bulk and schedule the pins in advance. Fancy, huh?

I hope this helps some of you fellow bloggers out there! Pinterest can be an amazing tool for your blog, so jump right in! I've enjoyed creating this miniseries and hope some of you have gotten something out of it. If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!




Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies

I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, but baking has always been my favorite. It's somewhat therapeutic, and I love finding new delicious treats to whip up. Enter: this recipe. Parker and I spent a weekend in Fredericksburg last summer and became obsessed with the salted caramel ice cream we tried there. When I found a recipe for a salted caramel whoopie pie, I was so hopeful. Have yall ever had a whoopie pie? I had never eaten one much less baked one, but oh. my. gosh. This might be my new favorite dessert, and Parker couldn't stop raving about it. He put this dessert in the top five things I've ever made, and I have to agree. Seriously, I'll stop. Just make this.

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 can store bought vanilla frosting
1/2 cup caramel sauce (like the kind you use for ice cream topping)
1/2 Tbsp Kosher or sea salt plus a little more to garnish (don't use table salt- it won't turn out the same. I opted for sea salt)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine cake mix, oil, eggs, and water in a bowl.
3. Drop mixture by 2 Tbsp onto a lined cookie sheet (leave about an inch between each cookie), and bake 9-10 minutes.
4. Cool on pan for 5 minutes. Move to wire rack and cool another 15 minutes.
5. In a medium bowl, stir together frosting, caramel sauce, and salt.
6. Take one cookie and place a Tbsp or so of frosting in the center. Press another cookie on top so that the icing spreads out to the edge.
7. Sprinkle a little more sea salt over the top of your completed whoopie pie for garnish.

I got a little excited and made my cookies a bit larger than the recipe indicated. They were equally delicious, but I'd follow the recipe measurements for a slightly less messy cookie.


Enjoy!

A Promotion

This past Tuesday was a special day for the Phelps duo: Parker received his first promotion! He is now a Lieutenant Junior Grade, or LTJG for short. I couldn't be prouder! This promotion marks 2 years since Parker commissioned into the Navy. Wait, what?! Has it really been that long? It seems like Parker was just commissioning and we were happily moving our little selves to our first duty station, Pensacola, Fl. So much has happened in the last 2 years, and we are so thankful for the opportunities the Navy has allowed us. We love to travel, we love to explore new places- really, we just love the adventure of it all.

I know some people don't enjoy the military life, and it's definitely not for everyone, but this lifestyle has given us so many wonderful opportunities. I look at some the close friends we have made over the last two years, literally spread out across the country, and can't imagine not having these wonderful people in our lives. The Navy's been a great thing for us these past 2 years, and with 2 more moves in 2014 alone, these next couple of years should be exciting!

The promotion ceremony was short and sweet- that's my kind of ceremony! Kidding, kind of. LtCol Shoeman (head of Parker's squadron) said a few words about Parker, had him recite the oath he took when he commissioned, and then pinned on the new ranks. LtCol Shoeman was really great about letting me be a part of the ceremony. He didn't have to do that at all, but he made sure I got to help pin the ranks on and had me sit front and center. He even took time out of the ceremony to address me directly and thank me for supporting Parker. I didn't need or deserve any special recognition, but it was really kind of him to let me feel a part of the ceremony. Parker said a few words at the end to thank his instructors for all of their hard work, and that was a wrap!




These first 2 years have been pretty fantastic. Getting to stand by Parker's side as he serves our country can only be described as a blessing. He loves this life, I love this life, and we can't wait to see what the future holds. 2 years down, ??? to go! Let's see what that LTJG life has in store for us :)



The Boy Behind The Blog: 2013 Favorites and 2014 Resolutions

Another month, another post about the boy behind this blog! I liked the questions a lot this month, and Parker was a trooper once again and obliged. It's funny because for the first time in this link-up, Parker's and my answers to the questions weren't even similar. I usually think we are pretty in sync, but not this month! Without further ado, here is more from the boy behind the blog.


Questions and Answers (my responses to his answers are in blue):

1. What was your favorite movie of 2013?
Das Boot. "ALAAARM!" I know it wasn't made in 2013, but it was the best movie I saw this year. 
You don't have to be a sailor to appreciate the suspense and action of this high seas epic. 
Good grief Charlie Brown. First of all, he picked one of the few movies in 2013 that we didn't see together. I purposely skipped out on this one and was in another room crafting. Foreign movies in another language aren't really my cup of tea, but Parker loves them.

2. What is your all-time favorite movie quote?
FREEEDOM!
Not a huge surprise there. If you instantly knew he was quoting Braveheart and pictured Mel Gibson screaming at the end of the film, you and Parker would get along quite well.

3. What is your favorite type of movie?
Action, see answers 1 and 2
He is definitely all boy with that answer. I like action movies, but I typically prefer a little romance and comedy mixed in there as well.

4. What is your New Years Resolution?
Play a scratch round of golf
You can do it! I'll be the girl riding in the golf cart supporting this resolution while simultaneously reading a magazine.

5. Finish the sentence: This year I will...
Move all across the United States
He's not joking! We are set to live in three different cities before the end of the year. Anchors Aweigh!


That's all folks!

Pinterest & Blogging 101: Creating a Pin It Button

I decided to create a little mini-series on how to maximize your blog through Pinterest for all you fellow bloggers out there, particularly new bloggers. I never really realized how great Pinterest could be for my blog until I took a chance and decided to pin some of my recipes. I've been blogging for a year now, and let's look at my top 3 posts of all time, according to pageviews:

1. 3 Ingredient Crockpot Pulled Pork Sliders
2. Crockpot Cocktail Weenies
3. Crescent Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Each one of these posts has over 2000+ pageviews and counting, all because I decided to pin them to Pinterest. That may not be many pageviews for some bloggers, but it's pretty high for me! Pinterest can do a lot for your blog, especially if you like to post recipes, DIY ideas, cleaning and organization tips, etc. Last week I talked about how to verify your website on Pinterest. Today, let's talk about the "Pin It" button.

This is something I just recently did to my blog, but it was such a simple change that can help you bloggers out a lot. Installing a hovering "Pin It" button will allow readers to pin your content on the spot. People like convenience, and people, this is convenient. I like the hovering option so the button isn't so in your face and blatantly slapped across every picture. It's cleaner and less invasive.

How To Create & Install a Customized Hovering "Pin It" Button 

Step 1: Save this image to your computer

If you are happy with this image and want to use it for your hovering "Pin It" button, skip to step 6. To change the color, proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Upload a blank swatch of the color you want to use to www.picmonkey.com. You can Google the color or the HTML color code if you know it. The grey I use on my blog is #636363.


Step 3: Once you upload your color swatch, crop it into a perfect square. Next, select "Frames" and "Rounded Corners". Slide the "Corner Radius" button all the way to the right and select "Transparent Corners". You should now have a perfect circle.

Step 4: Go to "Basic Edits" and click "Resize". Make sure you select "Keep Proportions" and change the dimensions to 75x75. 

Step 5: Go to "Overlays" and select "Your Own". Upload the "P" that you saved in step 1. Use the color picker to choose what you want your "P" to look like. Move and resize your "P" to your satisfaction, and then save the image to your computer. 

Note: I opted for the words "PIN IT" instead of the "P" symbol. If you want to do this too, just insert the text into your cropped, circular color swatch. This is what mine looks like: 



Step 6: Once you've saved your button, upload it to the photo sharing site you use (I use photobucket). Copy the direct link. Next, copy the code from the scrolling text box, and place the direct link of your image in the yellow highlighted portion of the code below.




It will look like this:

<script>
//<![CDATA[
var  bs_pinButtonURL = "http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y3xzTGiGzH0/UK4XOaUpdaI/AAAAAAAADw8/Z1MH4Jr4Efo/s1600/pinterestx1_72.png";
var bs_pinButtonPos = "center";
//]]>
</script>
<script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.2/jquery.min.js' type='text/javascript'/>
<script src='http://lordhtml.opendrive.com/files/MV81OTY2MjE0X01Rcmg5/pin.js' type='text/javascript'/>
<!-- please do not alter or remove the following code -->
<div id='bs_pinOnHover'>
<a href='http://www.bloggersentral.com/2012/11/pinterest-pin-it-button-on-image-hover.html'>Pin It button on image hover</a></div>

Step 7: Go to your blogger dashboard and click "Template". Select "Edit HTML". Control F or Command F to find <body> near the end of your template. Paste the code above <body>.

Note: Before making any HTML changes, I recommend backing up your blog template, just in case. 

Step 8: Click "Save Template" and go look at your blog!

If for some reason it doesn't work, try pasting the code from either this webpage or this webpage. The codes are almost identical on each site, but sometimes depending on where you copy and paste the code from can make the button work or not work. I'm not going to pretend to know why, but try the other websites if the above code doesn't work!

Step 9 (optional): The "Pin It" image will by default appear in the center of your image. If you prefer that it appears in a corner instead (I chose the bottom right corner), find this line of code that you pasted:
var bs_pinButtonPos = "center"; 
and replace "center" with one of these options: topleft, topright, bottomleft, or bottomright.


I hope this helps! Having a hovering "Pin It" image can do wonders for your blog! Stay tuned as I wrap up this mini-series next week with my favorite Pinterest tips and tricks!

Chicken Spaghetti

One of my favorite recipes is chicken spaghetti. I rarely make it, but it's almost always what I request from my mom when I go back home. It's just yummy comfort food that makes me feel like a kid again. Parker really likes it as well as long as it is chock full of chicken! Boys and their protein needs. Try this for a weeknight meal or a nice Sunday afternoon around the table with family.

Ingredients:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can Rotel, drained (we use mild, but use what your family likes)
1 package of spaghetti
1/2 onion, diced
1 jar pimentos
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, saute onions in butter until translucent.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together soups, Rotel, pimentos, chicken, and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Stir in sauteed onions and cooked spaghetti.
5. Pour mixture into an 8x8 baking dish and top with cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.



Enjoy!

Weekend Things

Monday Funday! This weekend went by way too quickly, but honestly, I can't remember the last time I didn't think that. The Phelps trio took it easy and spent time together as our little family of three. We have been so excited for a simple evening of dinner and a movie- it might sound boring, but that's our cup of tea! We saw the movie Her this past weekend, and we couldn't stop talking about it. You know a movie is good when you are thinking about it days later. It was raw, emotional, awkward, and fascinating all at the same time. Parker gave it a 10, and we hardly ever give movies a 10. We thought the film did a great job illustrating what our world could look like as technology continues to evolve, but it also conveyed the constant need for people to feel connected. I've never seen a movie like it, and we loved it. The next movie on our agenda is Lone Survivor- we've read the book, and I'll have a box of tissues on hand when I start ugly crying in the middle of the theater.

We also took advantage of the BEAUTIFUL weather we had this weekend and took a nature walk with the pup. Yall, it was in the 70's and gorgeous in south Texas. We were making excuses all weekend to be outside. I even suggested that we he go hit golf balls, something I usually only halfheartedly agree to take part in.



In other news, Jenny is now taking applications for new people. After being forced to go to the vet and take a bath all in the same week, I think we've officially angered her. Kidding of course, but this face was even worse than her usually unimpressed expression.


And I will leave you with this lovely image. Parker and I decided to split an entree at a Chinese restaurant so we wouldn't have tons of leftovers. Apparently this is what splitting an entree looks like. No wonder Corpus Christi is the fattest city in America. I get it.


Have a great week, friends!!

Half Marathon Training: Halfway There

Whoaaa we're halfway there! I hope you sang that first sentence like I did when I typed it. Thanks Bon Jovi. Anyway, as many of you know, my twin sister (Danielle) and I are training for a half marathon. It's something I always imagined I would do as a deployment distraction, but there is no time like the present! We just recently passed the halfway point of training, so I thought I would check in and give a little update on how it's been going.

Training has gone surprisingly well! I run three times a week, two "short" runs and one "long" run. For example, last week I did two 3.5 mile runs and one 7 mile run. The shorter runs are not too bad. The hardest part is getting my rear end out the door to actually run. Once I'm outside, I'm good. The weather greatly dictates my motivation, as silly as that sounds. If it's a beautiful day outside, running almost sounds enjoyable, and I am happy to get out there. If it feels like the arctic tundra with a nice cold rain, I stare out the window and contemplate how to spend my last hour of life because I surely know I will die out there if I have to run. Drama drama drama. Thankfully, Danielle and I have each other for extra motivation. Having someone to go on this journey with makes it so much better. Grab your nearest twin and train for a half marathon together. It's a great bonding experience, as if we weren't already bonded enough.

Finishing a long run and conquering a new milestone is the best feeling. I had never run more than about 3.5 miles when I started training, so each week for the past few weeks has been a new record for me. My favorite run to date has been the 5.5 miles. I finished with the biggest smile on my face and was so full of joy. I loved that feeling- it was worth every second of sweat and joint pain.

 Post run selfies- so glamorous!

Oh yeah, joint pain... that has been my biggest obstacle thus far. I was fine until a few weeks ago when I started getting upwards of 5 miles. My knees and ankles just aren't used to such impact, and it's been really tough to keep going sometimes. I've tried to be smart and ice my joints afterwards if I am in pain, but the best thing I can do is to stop running on concrete. We don't have any nice trails in my area, but there is a track. Now, running 30 laps on a track sounds pretty miserable, but it is so much easier on my joints, so it's worth it. The hardest part about the joint pain is it is something I can't control. I can make sure I am eating right, make sure I am stretching, and keep myself motivated when I get tired and want to stop. Those are all factors in my control. Getting injured is outside of my control, so I am trying to be smart and praying that I don't get hurt.

Honestly, I am just ready to run the thing. I told Danielle I wish the race was only a couple weeks away so we could just do it already. We feel ready. We feel prepared. We feel like we can do it. We still have a little less than 2 months to go before the big day, so we have to stay disciplined and keep training. Our biggest motto throughout this entire experience has been "Trust the process". It's worked so far, and I trust we will be very ready come race day in March. I can't wait! 13.1, here we come!


Pinterest & Blogging 101: Getting Verified on Pinterest

I decided to create a little mini-series on how to maximize your blog through Pinterest for all you fellow bloggers out there, particularly new bloggers. I never really realized how great Pinterest could be for my blog until I took a chance and decided to pin some of my recipes. I've been blogging for a year now, and let's look at my top 3 posts of all time, according to pageviews:

1. 3 Ingredient Crockpot Pulled Pork Sliders
2. Crockpot Cocktail Weenies
3. Crescent Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Each one of these posts has over 2000+ pageviews and counting, all because I decided to pin them to Pinterest. That may not be many pageviews for some bloggers, but it's pretty high for me! Pinterest can do a lot for your blog, especially if you like to post recipes, DIY ideas, cleaning and organization tips, etc.

The first thing you need to do is get verified on Pinterest. How in the world do you do that, and why should you? Let's break it down:



So why verify? In a nutshell, verifying your blog on Pinterest will help increase credibility and traffic as well as allow your content to show up in results from search engines. It takes about 5 minutes, and I've created a step by step tutorial below.

Get Verified!

Step 1: Log into your Pinterest accounts and go to "Settings".


2. Click "Edit Profile", scroll down to "Verify Website", and click the button.


Step 3: On the next page, you will have the option to verify with an HTML file or to verify with an HTML meta tag. Click the option to verify with the meta tag, and you will see the following:


Select and copy your meta tag (the code in the gray box).

Step 4: Log into Blogger, go to "Template" and click "Edit HTML"


You may see a warning message. If you do, just click "Proceed".

Step 5: Click CNTRL F (COMMAND F if using a MAC), and search for the word "head". You should find 2, the opening head tag: <head> and the closing head tag: <head>. Your Pinterest generated code that you copied needs to go somewhere in between these 2 tags.


Test your changes to make sure you didn't mess up your blog. To do this, click "Preview" and make sure it loads properly. Then click "Save Template".

Step 6: Head back over to your Pinterest account and click the "Click Here" button for Pinterest to verify your site. That's it! Assuming it worked, you are verified! Head back to your home page on Pinterest to check it out!


I hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below! I will post parts 2 and 3 of "Pinterest & Blogging 101" in the coming weeks!


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