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52 Weeks of 2012, a set on Flickr.

I've had another blog for two years where I do a picture a week for a year. A few months back though it stopped letting me post more images for some reason so I stopped posting them but I kept taking them and storing them on my flickr site.
I deliberately didn't shoot during week three...I has just finished shooting a wedding and sometimes my creative brain needs a rest after a major event like that. But I think I made up for it in other ways...I experimented a little, have pictures shot from an airplane thousands of miles above the earth, and I even got a lightening strike. It was a good year behind the camera!


That's a rather enigmatic title isn't it? But I really wasn't sure what to call this post. Photo-shaped-like-those-sour-cream-thingies-candy-holder?

Bit of a mouthful isn't it?

Call them what you will but I think these little things are so cute and pretty unique. They are also rather versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. The first time I made them it was for an end of the year class party. I had taken photos of each of the children in the class already for another project so it was easy to personalize them so that each student got one.

This time my daughter used them as her Christmas gift/favor for her classmates and we used a picture my other daughter took of her. I added the message and had them locally printed in 4x6 size.


Choose one short side of the photograph and run a stripe of hot glue down the edge. (I'm not a huge fan of hot glue but I've tried every other permanent tape on the market and none of them hold together.) Next fold the picture into a tube shape over lapping the edges so they're glued together.


Run another stripe of glue along one side of the bottom of the tube. Press it together without creasing the picture to seal.


Drop some candy inside. We used a mix of miniature candy bars and kisses. Be careful not to add too many because you still need to seal the open end. I added about 4 pieces in each.


Going in the opposite direction of the bottom edge, add another stripe of hot glue to one side and press to seal shut. It's important that you not seal both ends the same way as this is what gives the holder it's shape.


And voil`a you have a cute little thingamajig!




Things to know, really only one thing that you need to keep in mind, is that hot glue is called hot glue for a reason. If you're a seasoned crafter you probably already have a system for how to press and close off what you're gluing but I still ended up with a small blister that hurt like all get out. Hold each gluing step for 10 seconds or so to ensure your bond is set before moving to the next step.

So, how adorable would these be as a favor for a wedding shower using a picture of the couple? Or a tummy picture for a baby shower? They'd also make great valentines too.

What do you think? How else could you use them?

Sharing my craftiness with the No Rules Blog Party, Sparkle and Shine, Show and Tell Friday, and last but not least Rae Gun Ramblings.


Last week I posted my first giveaway and said I would announce the winner on Tuesday. Only I didn't. But for a good reason...I was observing the world wide web day of silence in honor of the victims of Newtown, CT. So if you were waiting to see if you won the note cards, please forgive the delay. But before I say who won I have one other thing I'd like to share with you. And I am going to ask that you share it to.

I tried to find a way to show this video directly but couldn't so I'll just post the link. Ana Grace was one of the children killed last week. Her mother posted this video clip of her singing "Come Thou Almighty King" accompanied by her brother on the piano. Her request is that the video be seen so that the world will know the victims and not the shooter. It's less than a minute long so please, take a moment and watch. And then share it on your facebook or blog.

Now onto the winner of the set of note cards...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnd the randomly drawn winner is:

Paula from Life As We Know It

Congratulations, Paula! Leave a comment letting me know you sent me your address at whatmartysees@gmail.com and I'll get these right out for you:-)


I'll be sharing this post at Paula's link up party today and Picture Perfect Blog Hop and visiting with This Girl's Life for the first time.


I've mentioned before how much I like simple, easy and tasty recipes. Well, I hit an all time new level of easy on this recipe y'all. And simple and tasty while I was at it. Even the person I pinned it from described it as "ridiculously, embarrassingly easy."

What you'll need:
1 bunch green onions
3 or 4 roma tomatoes
1 block feta cheese 
olive oil
Italian or Greek seasoning 
1 baguette sliced

What you'll do:
Chop up onions and tomatoes. 
Crumble feta cheese. 
Toss with olive oil and seasoning. 
Eat.

See? Told you this was next level easy. Feta has a pretty strong smell and taste so it may not be for everyone but I've yet to have someone try this and not like it.


Sharing the good stuff with Meal Time MondayMelt in Your Mouth Monday, This Gal CooksSweet Sharing Monday, and Try a New Recipe Tuesday.




I first started blogging about six years ago. My kids were little and they gave me plenty of stories to share and it was a good way to let family and friends keep up with us.


We debated the best way to cut waffles, took a poll as to whether the edge brownie pieces were best, and found ridiculous time consuming games. (Seriously, boomshine. Click at your own risk though...it's addictive.) 

There would be the occasional bouts of silence, words that I wished I could take back, and others that I wish I would remember more often. 

I stopped blogging back around April. After months of quiet I realized that I still wanted to blog but I wanted to do it differently and Life Through My Lens was born. I still tell stories about my family and share recipes and I am showing a lot more of my photography. I'm trying to be more deliberate so there are fewer words to regret and more worth remembering.

Since it began in August I have met many new people and welcomed back old friends. I've enjoyed the camaraderie and encouragement that has been shared here and on other blogs. 

When I logged in this afternoon I noticed that I've had almost 4000 visits. I know there are blogs who see that much traffic in a week but it seemed like kind of a lot to me.

So I decided to celebrate by hosting my first ever give away.  I am going to give a set of four note cards to one of my readers. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what you enjoy about the blogging world.

The front of the card is one of my favorite images. I love hydrangeas and the soft white teapot just looks soothing to me. 


The top inside of the card is printed with a beautiful benediction from Numbers 6 and the bottom half is blank for your personal message.



Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, December 18th. Winner will have one week to contact me at whatmartysees@gmail.com to give me an address in order for me to mail the cards.



In a blog post last week I talked about families staying together during worship. It generated a lot of views and many an email conversation mostly centered around the question of how you train your children to be in worship.

Well, first let me tell you it isn't easy. Like all discipline, it is work and consistency is key. So first you must determine what behaviors will and will not be acceptable. Will your child be allowed to sit in your lap or will you want them to learn to sit in their own spot? Are they allowed to color or do other quiet activities? If they have to be taken out of the service who is going to do that - Dad or Mom?

As you are making those determinations I encourage you to remember your child's frame. You can't really expect the same level of stillness and attentiveness from your three year old that you require of your eight year old. Think through what is appropriate and acceptable for each child where they are developmentally so that you know what you want to expect of them. That way you can clearly communicate those expectations to your child. I expect my son who is eleven to participate when appropriate and to sit quietly and listen the rest of the time. I expect my youngest who just turned six to also participate when it's called for but I also allow her to write on her bulletin/worship guide.  I have also made it very clear to her that any reading of the Scriptures or prayers require her full attention and stillness, and she may not write during this time.

The actual training begins before you ever even come into the church building. As one friend mentioned, if you wouldn't throw your child onto a big kid bike having skipped the training wheel stage, you shouldn't throw them into the service without training wheels either. Basically there is plenty you can do at home to prepare your child for being in a worship service. Something as simple as practicing daily blanket time - requiring your little one to sit on a blanket with a book or quiet toy for a few minutes each day - gets them used to the idea of staying in one spot. With toddler age and young children it can be helpful to listen to stories on CD or online at home so that they are used to the idea of listening to someone talk. In our house we also practiced being quiet. When she was around three, I'd have Claire go sit on the couch by herself and sit still and quiet for stretches of time. With all three of these methods you can start with small increments of time, 2 minutes or so, and work your way up to 5 minutes, 10 minutes and so on. The biggest benefit is going to be from actually doing it on a regular basis so that it is a familiar routine to them.

It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between "training for" and "training through". By this I mean that you can be doing these things at home (the training for part) and then getting into a worship service the whole thing falls apart and everybody is squirmy and dropping stuff and suddenly you are trying to wipe a nose, deal with a fidgety toddler, hold onto your Bible, and deal with the five year old who is elbowing the three year old. (That would be the training through part.)

Again, it is helpful if you have already decided ahead of time what will and will not be acceptable. Here is a simple rule of thumb that I used especially when my children were younger. If I wouldn't allow it during a movie at a theater then I will not allow it during a worship service. For instance, if we are at the movies I am not going to let them get up and down going to the rest room. Therefore, we will go to the rest room right before our service begins. There are the occasional emergencies but, by and large, they learned pretty quickly that I was serious about this. The onus is also upon me to be the one to enforce this rule so even as they've gotten older I never ask my two that will be prone to needing to go...I tell them to go before the service starts.

Another good idea is to mark your hymnal pages and even the Scripture passages before the service begins. This can seriously cut down on the amount of juggling a parent feels like they're doing during a service. Our church will post the music and reading selections on the website sometime during the week prior to that Sunday, but even if yours doesn't you can grab your worship guide or bulletin and mark pages when you get there.

I try to keep things like tissues handy because invariably some body's nose is going to start running. And I don't mean I just keep them in a bag at my feet. I put them on a seat so that I won't be disruptive by bending up and down to get them out. That same thought should carry over into how you dole out books or quiet toys. At the very least keep whatever you might need within easy, discreet reach. You don't want to become a distraction trying to keep your kids from being a distraction. At the same time it is completely acceptable, indeed expected, that at some point a child may need to be removed from a service to be further disciplined before returning to the service. We had one sweet mother that just about every week would have to get up with her two year old, spanking spoon in hand, step out in to the restroom and then come back in a few minutes later, a much quieter youngster in tow. It was a blessing to see her consistently following through.

Grace from the church family is needed for parents to have the freedom to work through the process of training their children. There is a big difference between saying that your church is family integrated and actually cultivating an atmosphere that is encouraging, helpful and welcoming to parents who are in the trenches of child training.  Commenting on progress can be very encouraging to a parent who may feel like they just spent 45 minutes in hand to hand combat. Remind them to not grow weary in doing good, and teaching your child you to be part of the congregation of the righteous is a good work. There are other practical ways to help young families who are in the midst of the work. My children have reached various ages where the fruit of our labor is beginning to blossom. Not that we don't have days but the grunt work, so to speak, is paying off. This means that my two oldest are free to step in and offer their help to families with younger children. Children can sense a shift in the balance of power pretty quickly so if Mom has stepped out to change a diaper leaving Dad on the front lines alone with three young ones, the three young ones can turn from settled and quiet angels to Tasmanian devils in the blink of an eye. A teenager who is able can move into a seat alongside said young ones and add at least another pair of eyes and hands to help maintain the calm until mom returns.

While grace towards parents should be offered, parents should be aware of the affect their family is having on the people around them. Not out of embarrassment, but if your child is being particularly distracting and won't be still move to the back where it will have less impact on others.  As mentioned earlier make sure things you need will be close at hand so you aren't creating a ruckus by getting to them. Learn the art of quietly but firmly speaking to your children. Finding ways to discretely correct behavior is important. I have a friend that gives a sturdy thump to little hands and another that gives a wide solid pinch. Neither causes lasting discomfort but they do let the offender know that they need to cease and desist.

Our church highly encourages the children to not only be in our worship service but to also participate. We do not however expect or demand total silence from them. We know that this may be a new concept for some families or that some days a little one may just be out of sorts and will not settle. So we also provide a nursery if it's needed and we gladly receive anyone who needs to use it.  I am so appreciative of one particular mother in our congregation who upon occasion needs her son to be in the nursery. She always makes certain to come get him right before communion so that the nursery worker may come to the table with the rest of the body.


Being part of a local church should also mean being part of a family. We worship as a family and that means we all have a part in the teaching and training of the youngest members of our community. It is a privilege that should be joyfully received just as Christ joyfully received the littlest of these.

Sharing with the Heart and Home.



Six years ago we put our son on a gluten free diet. It was hard. Gluten free food was scarce and very expensive. I found baking from scratch to be very difficult and very precise. I am not a precise kind of cook...I do heaping and pinches and tweaking kind of cooking. But for our son's sake I persevered and he didn't waste away and gluten free has been good for him and his autism.

Over the last several years things like celiac disease and just general gluten intolerance has become more common. While it is sad that people have such health issues it has also brought about a much more friendly non gluten community with easier access to gf foods. Walmart and Publix both carry gf items and many restaurants offer gluten free menus. (Hello Mellow Mushroom! You've no idea how happy you made one pre-teen boy when you arrived in town with a gf pizza...he ate the whole thing all by himself the first time ;-)

Tons of blogs have popped up all over cyber space and while some recipes may be a little more complex than others there is a wide array of recipes to suit even the most undisciplined of chefs such as myself. When I came across this recipe for flourless chocolate cookies I knew they'd be in our cookie jar soon.

gluten free, cookies, chocolate, homemade cookies, gf cookies, flourless cookies

Oh, boy are they some kind of good. A yummy chocolate flavor that is slightly reminiscent of a meringue but a delicious texture that is both chewy and crunchy...they really are so good.

What you'll need:
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 to 4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Disclaimer: These cookies are more of a batter than a dough...they like plenty of room to spread while baking.


What you’ll do:
Cover your cookie sheet with parchment paper (This is very important…do not skip!)
Mix the first three ingredients together. Add in the vanilla and egg whites starting with just two. Add more if needed to get a thick brownie batter like consistency. Stir in chocolate chips. Use ½ tablespoon to spoon  mixture onto your parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops are glossy and cracked…about 12 to 14 minutes.



These are some seriously good cookies so if you're heading to cookie exchange party or just enjoying holiday hoop la you may want to give them a try. You could place inside a white bakers box and tied with pretty string to make a lovely neighbor or teacher gift.

Sharing the good stuff with Sweet Sharing Monday, This Gal Cooks, Show Me Your Plaid, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, and   Try a New Recipe Tuesday. Whew, that is a whole lot of cooking going on! Be sure to come back and let me know if you try these!



My son is the only boy out of five children. He is neatly sandwiched between two older sisters and two younger sisters. You would probably think the poor kid doesn't stand a chance with that many little mamma's trying to tend his business but I can tell you he handles himself just fine.

Last week I finally managed to get some time set aside to do some pictures of my own children to possibly use for Christmas cards. My youngest was quite proud of her little herp derp moment and made the face for me again asking if I had seen it the first time. Oh, yeah I saw girlie! And you will be a teenager one day and will so regret that you made that face :-)


Then things started getting really interesting. It may seem as if my oldest child is clumsy and that her brother is trying to rescue her but the truth of the matter is that she's not and he isn't. As a matter of fact he was doing the exact opposite.


She is a good sport about it though.


And the youngest shows again how very big and expressive her personality is.


He doesn't look apologetic at all does he?


His exact words, "Push Sarah off of a stone wall? Check!"


All is well that ends well.


Love my babies that are growing up way too fast! Sharing their silly story with Photo Story Friday, Best Shot Friday, and 1440.


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