October 31, 2014

Santa $1,000 PayPal Cash Giveaway!

Get ready, ‘cause this is BIG!  About $1,000 in PayPal cash BIGThanks to some amazing friends and supporters of A Peek Into My Paradise we were able to come together collectively with a CASH PRIZE of $1000, which will be split evenly between two VERY LUCKY winners ($500 each in PayPal Cash)! It’s time to start thinking about what you would do with an extra $500 this holiday season! Yep, that’s right, an extra $500! Are your gears turning yet, thinking about what to do with all this money? Are things like cameras, laptops, a PS4, Christmas shopping, paying bills etc. dancing through your head? Consider all the wonderful possibilities and enter for your chance to win the:

Santa $1,000* PayPal Cash Giveaway!

October 8, 2014

My new beauty blog, Belle or Bust, is up and running!

Hey there!  I’m excited to announce my beauty blog, Belle or Bust, is finally up and running. As of now, I only have one post published, and my ABOUT and CONTACT ME page completed but, hey, it’s up right?!  And on Wordpress nonetheless!  Yep, I learned am learning Wordpress.  So far, I’m pretty impressed!  Of course, my beauty blog will be a work in progress as I continue to make design tweaks, layout adjustments, add plug-ins, and optimize it for search engines! 

September 17, 2014

Livi’s first day of preschool!

It was Livi’s first day of school on September 15th, and she did me proud!  I had mixed feelings about how she was going to react with dropping her off and not being able to go in with her.  Our school has a strict policy in place that requires the parent to stay in their car at drop off so a teacher can escort them into the building.  I was concerned Livi would question why I was letting someone she didn’t know take her away when we’ve been teaching her not to go with strangers since she was in utero.  Okay, maybe not for that long, but close.  Being that Livi was chosen off a wait list at the last minute, we missed the open house where we would have had the opportunity to meet the faculty and staff.  With that said, I set up a meeting with her teacher so Livi and I could meet her in advance.  Not only did this make Livi and I feel more comfortable about the first day of school, but her teacher was no longer a stranger.

September 12, 2014

Interested in a make-up tutorial?

If you missed my previous post, Beauty guru or bust, you’d know that I’m thinking of starting a beauty blog and YouTube channel.  Before I do, however, it would be a HUGE help and greatly appreciated if you take a minute to vote on my poll (in the sidebar to the right).  I’m anxious to see which topic you’d be interested in most!  If you click the view button on the widget, it allows you to vote and leave comments.  You can also leave me a comment here as well.  In case you are torn between what you’d like to see on my new beauty blog, here are some new selfies to help you along.  I had a blast with this make-up look.  It was definitely Fall inspired.  I used my new Smashbox Master Class Palette III for the very first time.  And, before I let you go, Stila beauty products seriously rock!  Just sayin’.

September 10, 2014

Beauty guru or bust!

I’ve been obsessed lately with beauty gurus, both vloggers and bloggers.  After much thought, I have decided to start a new beauty blog and/or YouTube channel.  With Alivia starting school this Fall, I’ll have an entire hour and a half each day all to myself.  I say that sarcastically since an hour and half isn’t even enough time for me to catch my breath never mind fulfill a life long passion of mine: MAKE-UP!  And although it may not work out or fit in with our day-to-day activities and schedule, I’m still going to take the plunge and try!

Makeup Tutorial Youtube videos or Beauty Blog via Cropped Stories

Go easy on me, I’m still trying to perfect my selfie skills.  It’s not easy taking pictures of yourself without a little bit of face and/or body distortion.

With that said, I’d love to know what my readers would be interested in.  Topics you’d like to see me post about, videos you’d like to watch, things you’d like to learn etc. 

For those of you interested, I have every intention of keeping my primary blog, Cropped Stories, up and running.  Of course, since my leave of absence, I’m sure you’ve noticed quite a BIG change in the frequency of posts being published.  I went from publishing 2-3 posts a week to 1 every couple of months. 

So, how do I intend to maintain two blogs when I can barely maintain one?  Lots of praying!  Praying for more hours in the day, ten more fingers to type with, Alivia to take naps, and a seemingly quick knowledge of video editing software.  I just want to know how to add music to my videos already!

Anyhow, your participation in my poll would be helpful and much appreciated.  You can also feel free to leave me a comment or email me at:


I'm thinking of starting a beauty blog or YouTube channel. I'd love to know which topic would interest you most.
pollcode.com free polls 

If you missed my previous post, Blogging: 8 Ugly Truths, feel free to catch up!  Also, feel free to pass this along to others you think would be interested in voting!  Have a great week!

September 7, 2014

Blogging: 8 Ugly Truths

Whether you are blogging as a hobby or do it full time as work, I’m certain you are all too familiar with the responsibilities that go along with it.  And while the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages, there are still some ugly truths to blogging.  Why write a post on it though?  Well, because I was never big on denial.  And as a veteran in the blog-o-sphere, I felt responsible to let all the newbies out there know the truth, or should I say “truths”! Yeah, they may be ugly, but you’ll find them helpful as well.  And that’s what this post is really about: educating and helping you!

May 28, 2014

Isabella Fiore handbag for sale on ebay for just $75!

Model: Toscana Rania Tote
Color: Brown, camel, and black leather.

OUT OF STOCK or UNAVAILABLE (almost everywhere)

Authentic Isabella Fiore woven leather handbag with gorgeous brass hardware boasts incredible and intricate details (retails for $595.00).  This handbag includes a generous sized outer pocket on the front and an additional generously sized zip pocket on the back.  The shoulder handles are made of braided leather and the handbag open and closes with a magnetic closure.  Inside, you will not be disappointed with the size.  The inside also contains one large zip closure and 2 pockets including one for your cell phone.  Still filled with original packing paper and an Isabella Fiore storage bag to keep your purchase safe and looking fabulous for years to come!  The dimensions are: 16 inches across, 10 inches in height (from bottom of handbag to closure), 7 inches in depth, and the handle drop is 9 inches.

May 19, 2014

A birdie’s nest outside my slider

About a week ago, my mom and Alivia found a bird’s nest on the tree planted outside my slider.  I’d been seeing this particular bird a lot, and it never dawned on me that I may have been housing a family of baby birds and a very protective mommy. Not really surprising.  I’ve been oblivious to the simple “right under my nose” things lately with more complicated things consuming my mind these days.  It’s true, that saying:

“If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

April 1, 2014

Intermittent Exotropia Update – Time for Glasses

I haven’t done an update on Alivia’s Intermittent Exotropia for quite some time, so I thought I’d share the latest with all of you today.

Since I was sick, my husband took her to the last Ophthalmologist appointment.  Before I go into what she said, let me catch you up with what’s been going on.  As a reminder, you can read all my Intermittent Exotropia posts here to catch up.

I’d been patching Alivia’s eye for two hours a night and keeping a close watch on her deviation.  For months, the hubby and I didn't see it deviate much, so we decided to discontinue the eye exercises.  She was doing good for awhile.  Then, out of the blue, we started seeing it again.  Mostly when she was in her car seat, looking out the front of the car through the windshield to the outside.  At those times, we’d ask her to bring her eye in. Over time, she became a pro at bringing her eye in demonstrating impressive control over it which made us very happy.  Happy for us and her!

March 27, 2014

Skinny people have feelings too!

To those who think they can make remarks about a skinny person’s weight without hurting their feelings, let me assure you it’s not true.

I’ve had women, on occasion, make remarks about my weight.  Most remarks are about how I could stand to put on a few pounds and others have been in response to my own thoughts of wanting to eat better and exercise.  In addition to being hurt, I was shocked to realize how narrow minded and ignorant these women must be.  It’s as if they can’t fathom the idea of a skinny person having cellulite or loose skin?  It makes me feel like I have to convince them I am not anorexic or have distorted thoughts about my body image. In fact, I’m very realistic in relevance to my own appearance.  I’ve never had an eating disorder and never thought I was overweight when I wasn’t.  In fact, at this very moment, I am too skinny.  And this is not my first time.  I’ve been underweight a handful of times throughout my life due to illness.  My weight has always fluctuated between 90 - 98 lbs. To put things in perspective, I am only 4’11 and 3/4.  Occasionally, maybe twice, it’s been below 90 and above 100 lbs.  Right now I’m only 88 lbs., and I’m trying my hardest to pack on the weight.  I feel healthiest anywhere between 95-97 lbs.  With that said, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

February 3, 2014

Leave of Absence

Sorry for the abrupt notice but, due to personal reasons, I will be taking a leave of absence from February 3rd through May 2014.  Unfortunately, I’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue The PINcentive Blog Hop as well.

As a precautionary measure, I intend to update my email settings to generate an automated response to all inquiries.  My hopes, however, are to be able to check emails a few times a week and to remain somewhat active on social media, so feel free to stay in touch! 

A big thanks to everyone who has been following, reading, sponsoring, and linking up with Cropped Stories!  Your dedication and support has been greatly appreciated!

In the meantime, happy blogging, happy Valentine’s Day, and I look forward to returning in the near future!

January 31, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way to the doctor’s

This post is part of a writing prompt blog hop some lovely ladies host called FTSF (Finish the Sentence Friday).  If you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend checking it out!   This week’s prompt was to finish this sentence:

A funny thing happened on the way to…

So, here it goes:

Well, it wasn't so much a "ha ha" type of funny, than it was a "I have to find the humor in this" funny before I rip my hair out and lose my mind!

January 28, 2014

I’d say I need a vacation if my kid weren’t such a trip

Being a stay-at-home mommy to a 3 year old, while rewarding, is more challenging than anything else.  Luckily for me I’ve always had a lot of patience.  Or at least I thought I did, until Alivia turned 3 and started to prove me wrong.  And while there are days I’d like to curl up in a ball, suck my thumb, and cry myself to sleep, most days I try to see the humor in things.  I try to step out of my body as if I were an outsider watching us on TV.  I try to imagine the genre we’d fit it into on each particular day.  For instance, one day on my way upstairs to see what Alivia was doing, I found Vaseline all over her face, neck, clothes and, yep, in her hair.  It was awesome having to scurry to clean her up as we had plans to go out.  Yes, I’m being facetious.  On that day, I’d say we were a comedy; the two of us!  See, I can be easy going.  While “the episode” was rather inconvenient, who wouldn’t have laughed at the sight of their toddler all greased up with that “deer in headlights” expression on their face while mommy repeatedly asked “why would you do this?” as if it could be rationalized.  Seriously?  Of course, I’d take those days over serious ones any time.  In fact, days like those are a break from what seems to be the norm these days.  The norm being Livi doing something she’s not supposed to and mommy having to put her in her room.  If you read, Crying, and whining, and tantrums, oh my, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s been a struggle for the both of us lately. 

January 27, 2014

The PINcentive Blog Hop will resume next week!

The PINcentive Blog Hop will resum on February 4th via Cropped Stories

The Google Alert for Post Ideas

What is the most challenging part of blogging for you?  For me, it's finding content that will stand out from the other one billion posts published on on the same subject.  If you can relate, let me introduce you to Google Alerts.  It's a great tool that allows you to receive notifications on a particular search query providing you with the most current and relevant search results on Google.  In other words, if you'd like to receive notifications on social media, you would type social media in the search query box, choose your result type, how often you'd like to receive these notifications, and how many results you'd like to receive.  Google Alerts gives you two ways to receive this information. One is to your email address, the other is to your feed.  For a great tutorial on how to use Google Alerts, I recommend this article on wikiHow.

January 22, 2014

How to make a post gallery for your sidebar!

Hello readers of Cropped Stories! I'm Alicia and I blog over at A Sweet Fragrance. My family and I are American-born but live as expats over in SE Asia. I blog about our life overseas, recipes I attempt to make while substituting lots of ingredients, projects I do around the house, "tot school" lessons I teach to my toddler, and lessons I learn through parenting and walking with the Lord. I hope you'll stop by my blog for a visit!

Just before the year 2013 came to an end, I decided I wanted to redesign my blog. I had a picture of what I wanted for the new design in my head but getting that design to appear on my blog required turning my thoughts into HTML coding.

January 20, 2014

The PINcentive Blog Hop: Week 19

Welcome to the nineteenth week of our blog hop!  Last week I shared the winner’s posts that were pinned the most times since our hop went live for the first time back in September.  Since the numbers were so impressive, I thought I’d feature our Pinterest All-stars once again!

As a reminder, the winners of our hop get some major Pinterest exposure when their content gets pinned by my team of pinners (below) and by, YOU, the blog hop participant!  I’m happy to report that the number of times our winner’s content gets pinned has been averaging around 60-70 times!  As fantastic as this number already is, there are still many times our winner’s posts are pinned well over 100 times!  Take a look for yourself!

January 16, 2014

Free Customizable Valentine’s Day Cards

Love is in the air; I can feel it!  With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I’d offer YOU some free Valentine’s Day Cards!  These are for those that will be printing their cards at home or know of a fabulous printer they’ve already worked with in the past!  You can steal my cards in one of two ways.  Either by downloading the Adobe Photoshop .psd file to customize yourself or by completing my form to have me do the work for you!  That’s right!  I will insert your images into my template and personalize with your family name(s). 

January 15, 2014

Will you rate my birth announcement designs?

Hey everyone! In case you are unfamiliar with the birth announcement design challenge on Minted, I blogged about it here on Friday.  I’m super excited to have entered this design challenge and am hoping you’ll take the time to rate my designs.  By rating for my designs, you are NOT voting for me.  You are only judging my designs on a scale of 1 – 5 letting both the Minted community and judges know what you think.   And though the public ratings are taken into consideration when they choose the winners, please be honest.  I don’t believe in soliciting ratings from family, friends, or the blog-o-sphere just for the sake of scoring high.  I really want your honest opinion, and I can assure you that all ratings are anonymous.

January 13, 2014

The PINcentive Blog Hop: Week 18

Welcome to the eighteenth week of the blog hop!  This week, I thought it might be fun to let you in on the numbers.  You know the numbers I’m talking about right? 

The winners of our hop get some major Pinterest exposure when their content gets pinned by my team of pinners (below) and by, YOU, the blog hop participant!  I’m happy to report that the number of times our winner’s content gets pinned has been averaging around 60-70 times!  As fantastic as this number already is, there are still many times our winner’s posts are pinned well over 100 times!  Take a look for yourself at, what I’m calling, Our PINcentive Blog Hop Pinterest All-stars!

January 10, 2014

The Minted Birth Announcement Design Challenge!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s been a little slow over here in the land of Cropped Stories.  Today, however, I thought I’d let you in on the big reason behind me being MIA for the past several weeks with the exception of my blog hop (of course) and a little venting about the little one driving me absolutely bonkers

I’m excited to share that I’ve been designing birth announcement cards for the Minted design challenge!  In case you aren’t familiar with Minted, here’s a little about them straight from their website:

January 8, 2014

Crying, and Whining, and Tantrums, Oh My!

It donned on me, while I rinsed off dishes to put in the dishwasher, that I just asked my 3 year old if she was going to cry every day for the rest of her life as if she were capable of answering it honestly.  Or as if it were a fair question to ask a child that age.  

At the time, I'm sure she thought she was answering honestly as she mumbled what I thought sounded like a "yes", but I can't be sure since it got lost in the high pitch sounds of what resembled a puppy cry.  This is what it sounded like when Alivia started to whine.  Between her crying, and whining for what seemed to be the one millionth time that day, I thought I was going to lose it!  Mind you, I haven't been feeling well.  I have been fighting a sinus infection that spread through the house like a forest fire and even still, I mustered up the patience to make a silly game out of asking her not to run around the kitchen island near the hot stove.  I would physically redirect her every time she would get near the stove, turning her around and pushing her off towards her dad who would do the same thing as she approached the other side of the island.  All of a sudden, before the hubby and I knew it, she was crying and acting like her moody little self.  You can imagine my patience, at this time, was dwindling, and quickly.  I still demonstrated control when I demanded she go to her room in a relaxed and eager voice as if I were asking a waiter for the dessert menu. I can't deny that I was eager for her to go to her room so that I could enjoy some peace and quiet.  I don't know what I was thinking.  No sooner than we closed the door to her bedroom was she in full out tantrum mode.  Screaming, kicking, crying, whining, etc.! 

January 6, 2014

The PINcentive Blog Hop: Week 17

Welcome to the seventeenth week of the blog hop!  As always, a BIG THANK YOU is in order to everyone that has been linking up.  More so for making it EXTREMELY difficult for our co-hosts to choose winners each week and providing us with such great recipes, crafts, tips, parenting advice, tutorials, (you name it)!  Your content has truly been a pleasure to read, and it keeps getting better each week!

If this is your first time linking up; WELCOME!  I am extremely excited to provide this link up for you today and the opportunity for you to increase your traffic, followers, and improve your page rank! 

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