Monthly Archives: April 2009

Development – Back On, Tweet Nice

Back On Schedule

Last week in Development Interrupted, I questioned whether the indiscrete signature block would cause further delay in this two-year development.  Instead, today, I see that they have cleaned up the graffiti and have moved forward with building the staircases.  I had a nice photo of the improvement but the image is not cooperating.  So, I have to ask you to use a little imagination, return to my previous post, and imagine the same building, with no signature.  

Nice work guys!  Moving right along according to schedule. 

All You Gotta Do Is Be Nice

Yesterday, I was alienated on Twitter.  Not a big deal really.  Once I unsubscribed to this person’s blogs and stopped following this person on Twitter, I felt a lot better. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that my humor is about as dry as old bread, except when you don’t know me and have never interacted with me.  Then, I’m not so much looking for dryness, but a little courtesy, at least in the beginning, and especially when I am supporting you and your business.  I think the general rule should be that if you are on Twitter, you should assume that everyone is a writer or content distributor and that anything you say or do will be published the next day. 

Now, generally, I’m not a tattle tale and I don’t like to name names so I won’t.  I will just tell you, in a general, that this person is a professional blogger, also known as a Problogger.

So, this is what happened.  Yesterday, I was on Twitter for all of 10 minutes, which is about my average in a week these days.  I am trying to be more ‘proactive’ in building a network on social networking websites, yada, yada.  I first responded, albeit late, to a girl that had sent me a direct message.  Then I noticed a question from this Problogger person.  It was something to the effect of being in a book store and wanting to buy a book.  This person asked for recommendations.  Harmless. 

 Well, although I haven’t read any good books lately, I had just purchased a book online on the same day.  I purchased BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker.  It is a dark tale about an Iraqi veteran who discovers that his daughter has been kidnapped by a serial killer.  Only, at some point in the story he winds up suspected of being the serial killer.  It promises to be an intensely thrilling, and bone-chilling horror story.  No pun intended. 

Just to give you a little background, I had been looking for more of these types of stories, not because I am an overly morbid individual, but because I thrive on the adrenaline rush I get from reading these types of novels.  Right now, my number one adrenaline-provoking favorite is Intensity by Dean Koontz.  I have been looking for novels that can match that intensity.  Again, no puns.

Anyway, since this problogging individual had asked for a recommendation, I offered up Boneman since it was fresh on my mind and with a qualifier about its morbidity.  He responds quite dryly, something about needing to stop asking these sorts of questions and that the richness and numerousness of my recommendation nearly paralyzed him… er, uh, this person.

Anyway, it was a minor, minor slight, but enough to piss me off.  Maybe he was being funny, maybe he wasn’t.  Maybe he’s just an ass.  It doesn’t matter really, I immediately signed off of all of this person’s brands.  

Now, maybe this person cares, and maybe this person doesn’t, but in order to earn my following, and loyal business, all you gotta do is be nice. 


TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum.  It takes from my own experiences and desired self-improvement, and I hope it will evolve through input by you and others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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When I Speak of My Husband, Is My Vision Skewed?


A reader of mine inquired recently about the way that I talk about my husband on this site. She acknowledged that I tend to put him on a bit of a pedestal and that it seems as if the whole story of us is not being told.

She is correct. I do put my husband on a pedestal, in the same place that he puts me. And my readers will not always know the entire story because some things are not for the public forum. But I will always tell as much of the story as appropriate to illustrate a particular point or to shed light on an issue for discussion.

Over the years, both from outside and now from within my own marriage, I have always enjoyed reading books, blogs or other perspectives on marriage, especially when the author is very positive and supportive of his or her spouse whether or not the writing is about the positives or negatives in marriage. I have always learned a lot more about dealing with marital discord from these writings based in mutual respect and love. Now, I have grown accustom to this perspective and it is one that I have adopted in my own writing.

Even though marriage is not always rose-colored, I tend to fall back on the adage taught to me by my mother: You can say anything you want… it is not what you say, but how you say it. I apply this adage to the way I communicate verbally with my husband and with others, as well as to my writings and communications with you.

That means that even though I may talk about many different facets of marriage, I will always shed a favorable light on him because he is my husband, in good times and in bad times. He is in this marriage just as I am. He has to take the good with the bad just as I do. We work together and are supportive of each other. And he speaks just as positively about me as I speak about him.

That being said, I try to be as objective as possible when writing about issues on this blog. However, I can only speak from my own perspective. I can only speak to how a situation has made me feel and how I have perceived any given instance. In that way, my view will often be skewed, many times in favor of myself and of my loved ones.

My personal goal is always to maintain a positive attitude and to resolve conflicts in marriage, and in life, in the best and healthiest manner possible. So, even when I am speaking of the negatives in marriage, I won’t find it helpful to do so in this public forum by attacking or criticizing my husband for a specific occurrence. On the contrary, I think it is most helpful to keep a cool head and state facts and feelings as they were experienced while illustrating how an instance has unfolded and how it is resolved.

I won’t say to you that the whole story of my husband and I will be told on here, however, and I think you would agree that it shouldn’t be. Our marriage has bumps in the road just like most other marriages. But, sometimes, our darkest hours are for us only and should be preserved for private discussion and resolution. During those times, I don’t support him any less, he is still a good husband.

It is never all rosy all of the time, but I’m not here to criticize. I am here only to share my perspective on relationships as best I can, the way I see it.

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  


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Filed under Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, Wedded Bliss Wednesdays

Building a Blog Series: Marketing, Giving Presence to Bookmarking and Social Network Icons

As part of the next steps I am taking in the development of Aspire to Grace, I have decided to give presence to bookmarking and social networking access on here.  Such access includes Digg, StumbleUpon, and Facebook access through branded icons. 

The format I will take in this post is to ask the questions that I have been asking for sometime and then attempt to provide the answers as best I can.  I figure that there are many out there like me with fairly new blogs and that you will have the same questions and will be looking for the same answers.  My goal is to have, at the end of this post, little bookmarking and social networking icons staring back at you.  That will mean that my quest was successful and that you can begin to access or interact with Aspire to Grace on these networking mediums.  

1.           If I am using the free-hosted blog service, can I add social network and bookmarking icons such as Digg or StumbleUpon?

A:            Yes.   With the right coding, you can include these icons at the end of each post with the ability for your readers to click through and refer your page to the site. 

Even though WordPress allows you to include widgets for services like Digg in your sidebar, it is better to have them visible at the end of each post.  Some of your visitors may never see that portion of your sidebar containing your widget.  In addition, using code specific to each post allows a visitor to click on a link to submit that post directly to the social networking website.  

I actually initiated this process on Sunday and was able to attach the icons to my Monday post. 

2.            How do I include these icons on my blog page?

A:            I had to search around for a while before I found what worked for me. 

Some sites recommended modifying the .php code or CSS code for your blog.  These codes are essential coding for your blog, however.  Incorrect coding could bring down the blog so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know what you are doing beforehand.  I tried to do a quick tutorial for .php coding and knew right away that learning even the basics would take more than one evening.  So, I kept looking for alternatives and eventually ended up here and here.    The first website refers you to the second, which provides the coding necessary to add the icons.  I cut and pasted the code into my editor at the end of my post and the icons appeared. 

I did modify the coding to move the icons around and to eliminate ones that were not working or that were services with which I am not familiar.  Ultimately, my icons appear in the following order: Delicious, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Digg, Simpy, Newsvine, Reddit, and Fark. 

3.            How will my readers use each of these icons to access and/or interact with my blog? 

A:            Once a reader has finished reading your post, he or she can click on one of the links you have provided at the bottom of the post to share your story on the social network site of their choosing.  Thus, your reader may choose to Stumble your article, or post it to Facebook, or refer it to the site of their choosing.  Having your website promoted in this fashion will inevitably lead to an increase in referrals from these sites. 

4.            I have seen other blogs with these icons at the end of every post, how would I place these icons on my own blog? 

A:            This proved to be a lot more cumbersome than I expected.  There may be much simpler ways of doing this, but I have yet to discover them.  For now, this is how I have to do it:

            a.  I copy and paste the code provided through the archGFX blog.

            b.  I follow the instructions on the blog, which tells me to (i) replace all instances of ‘xURIx’ in the code with the URL of my post; and (ii) replace all instances of ‘xTITLEx’ in the code with the title of my post, using ‘+’ for the spaces. 

            c.  I paste this modified code to the end of my post in my editor. 

5.            How can I teach my visitors to use these icons?

A:             Write a post to your readers about why these icons are important.  I intend to do the same.   

6.            How do I market my page from each of these services?  

A:            This is an answer for another post.  Since I am new to some of these services and have not used others, I will need time to explore and learn.  So, I have decided to do a follow up post, or two on the ways in which you can market your blog through these services.   These posts will be based on my own experience with engaging these services. 

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  


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Dividend Stocks, My 1st Quarter Results

Progress of Dividend Stocks

 In February, I wrote Choosing Dividend Stocks to explore parameters that you can use to select dividend-paying stock investments.  I started with the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, a list of publicly-traded companies that have consistently increased their dividends over the last 25 consecutive years. An updated list, as of March 18, can be found here.

Based on the parameters I referenced in that post, I chose to invest in Avery Dennison Corp. (AVY) – maker of beverage labels, retail tags and vehicle graphics- and Bemis Co. Inc. (BMS) – maker of flexible packing and pressure sensitive material for labels, decoration and signage.

At the time of my initial purchase of these companies, Avery Dennison was $28.03/share. It offers a dividend yield of 5.70% and will pay an annual dividend this year of $1.64 per share.  Bemis was $22.85/share.  The dividend yield is 3.80% and annual dividend is $0.90 per share.

So far, my 2009 investment has appreciated 5.9% and I have made $15.77 in dividend payments on top.  My gain is not realized yet because I still own the stock, but I expect continued growth of these stocks into the second quarter.  I have also purchased them with a long-term outlook so, unless I get wind of distress at one or both of these companies, I plan to hold on to them.    

In addition, my dividend payment was based on my original investment in these stocks. I purchased additional shares after the dividend payment.  Thus, my next quarterly dividend payment will be based on a higher number of shares.  This is in addition to other investments I have in stocks, but the other investments were made prior to January 1 and have mixed results.  I may report on that later, but I don’t find it worth it to hash out here now. 

Here is a snapshot of my progress with these companies:








Annual Dividend



My Total Divs.

1st Qtr





1st Buy Price (1.22)



2nd Buy Price




Value a/o Fri. (4.24)



My % Gain



Have you done any dividend stock investing this year?  What parameters have you used to choose dividend stocks?  What is your experience with dividend stocks in this market?  Please share your comments in the comment section below.    

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to
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Filed under Alternative Income Sources, investment, Make Money Mondays, Passive and Alternative Income

Glimpse, Round Up and Tops

Happy Friday!  Here’s a glimpse from next week’s schedule, a round up of some of the interesting things I read this week and a list of the 5 most popular Aspire to Grace articles. 

If you like what you see here, please sign up to receive updates whenever I post new and exciting information on Aspire to Grace!  You may sign up by using the orange icon that you see in the upper right hand side bar.  You may choose to receive updates via email or by feed reader.  


Make Money Monday: Recap on dividend stocks progress & my 1st quarter alternative income results.

Techy Tuesday: Build a Blog Series: Additional Marketing: Icons to spread exposure: Stumble Upon, Digg, Mixx, Facebook, Twitter

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: My response to a reader’s inquiry on the way I represent my relationship.

Tough Life Thursday:  TBD


A Blogger’s Checklist for Guest Posting On Other Blogs: David Risley provides an insightful list of guidelines for writing guest posts on others’ blogs.  This reading was timely for me since I have decided to expand my marketing efforts.  Over the next few weeks, I will be writing posts for submission to other blogs.  If I am published, it will increase exposure for Aspire to Grace. 

Top 3 Suggestions For Driving Traffic To Your Blog: Here, David Risley advises on increasing traffic to your blog.  Another timely reading in light of Aspire to Grace’s plateau in recent days.  I will be following these suggestions over the next month to determine the strongest methods for increasing traffic to Aspire to Grace. 

Five clues that you are addicted to Facebook: On CNN, Elizabeth Cohen fills us in on how to tell if you are addicted to social networking websites such as Facebook.  One example in the story is a woman who could not help her daughter do homework because she is always on Facebook!  Wtf? Has it really gotten this bad?  While I’m thankful that I can not access Facebook at work for fear of losing some productivity, I can’t imagine having a full on addiction… there’s only so many times you can update the page to get new information.  It does get old rather fast. 


I invite you to check out some things you may have missed on previous visits.  The following are links to the top 5 most popular articles here on Aspire to Grace, in order of rank:

1.              Tips for Proper Courtesy and Distribution On the Road

2.              Monthly Dividend Stocks As Steady Passive Income Sources

3.              Husbands & Housework

4.              Rental Property Conversion Series: Refinance Settlement, Power of Attorney and Escrow

5.              Trust and Long Distance Relationships

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Development, Interrupted

I took this picture yesterday of a newly developed property in my neighborhood.  The development has been a slow process… almost two years, but we seemed to be getting close to completion.  The doors and windows had just been installed within the past two weeks.  And then this…


This signature appeared earlier this week.  I don’t know how easy it will be for the owner(s)/developer(s) to fix this, but I suspect that now we are in for further delay on completion of this project.  This saddens me because it means that my neighborhood is not progressing quite as quickly as myself and a lot of my neighbors had hoped. 

There is no point in me asking why something like this would happen.  I can perceive of the many reasons why these types of things happen.  But, it doesn’t make it any less disgraceful.  

TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum.  It takes from my own experiences and desired self-improvement, and I hope it will evolve through input by you and others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  


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Ovulation, Hay Fever, and Deployment Can Lead to a Little Periodic Frustration and Anger

A couple of days ago, I snapped at my husband for no apparent reason.  We were looking through listings of houses in MS from our respective ends of the earth.  All of a sudden, I got confrontational over some minor point that was not even important to the discussion.  I felt it as it was happening, but did nothing to soften my push.  We didn’t argue only because my very awesome and cool-headed husband didn’t engage me for long and simply acknowledged that we had gotten “off topic.”  We soon returned to the original discussion, but at that point, the mood had been soured.  So, we said our “I love you’s” and got off the phone. 

Later that night (the next morning for him – Kuwait is 7 hours ahead), he called me and we were back to normal.  He denies that there was ever any discord.  I don’t think he even really processed my sour mood.  But I did. Pesky hormones.  There’s definitely a cycle here that I have been following.

If you are a man (or my mom), this is where you should stop reading. 

What do ovulation, hay fever and deployment all have in common?

Nothing, but put them all together and they spell periodic frustration and anger.  Bear with me.

#1 Ovulation

A woman’s ovulation occurs when her egg is released from the ovarian follicle.  It occurs 14 days after the first day of her menstrual cycle.  On average a women’s sexual appetite is highest during ovulation. 

I was ovulating at some point between the middle of last week and over this past weekend.

#2 Hay Fever…

… the feverish desire to roll around with hubby in the hay.  These feelings had been compounding over the previous several days.  They actually peaked right around the time of our phone call that morning… and had abated by the time we spoke again later that evening.

#3 Deployment

My husband works hard everyday for our country’s peace and security.  I love him for that and I respect his position.  But, his call of duty also means that we are apart during intimate times of need.  This about our separation inevitably affects us both. 

1+2+3 = Periodic Frustration and Anger…

Unfortunately, a little periodic frustration and anger kind of goes with this territory.  They are normal feelings and can even be healthy as they are a reminder of what is important and what is missed.  They are a measure of both passion and fortitude. 

At the same time, however, they can trigger hormonal responses that are a manifestation of all of the above.  It can be enough to push me to mild confrontation during a call to discuss houses in MS.  In this way, my feelings had become displaced going from lusting to frustration to full-blown anger.

It is a cycle that is easy to read, but harder to dispel.  Now, in the next few days, my hormones will rebalance.  My hay feverishness will quiet.  And I will be my usual jovial self…. until this time next month. 

The good news is that this cycle is slated to finally end sometime in the middle of August…  and not soon enough. 

 WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  


Filed under Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, Wedded Bliss Wednesdays