Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Sometimes I think back to when I first started this blog–eight years ago, if you can believe it!  I didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t know how to get people to read it.  I didn’t know anything about branding.  I had never heard of SEO.  I didn’t make pinnable images.  I didn’t have a Facebook Page.

If you aren’t a blogger, you may not even understand the first paragraph.  If you are, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Like it or not, if you want people to read what you write, all that stuff matters.  And it’s hard work, and takes time that you could be devoting to writing, and sometimes it just sucks the soul right out of you, to be honest.

I like writing guest posts, and participating in blog hops.  I like writing reviews and getting free things. I love what I am learning about branding and want my blog to be what it needs to be in order to open the door to future opportunities for me.

BUT . . . I also just love writing, telling stories, ranting about whatever, letting y’all know what I am doing and what I think about things.  I don’t like it when my stories don’t get told because I don’t have the time to edit pictures and create a featured image.

So this summer I am going to conduct a little experiment in less is more.  Yes, I am still going to do all that blogger stuff I mentioned above.  But not all the time.  Sometimes I am going to do what I am doing right now, just sharing thoughts and feelings with y’all the way I used to.  I hope that you will read and share even without all the bells and whistles, but even if you don’t, I will be WRITING instead of mostly not writing.  This will be my own little summer adventure!

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In five years of blogging I received one award, and now suddenly I seem to have another one every week.  Like I said in my last award post, that’s what’s known as an embarrassment of riches, folks, because I really am starting to feel embarrassed and hope you aren’t bored with another “about me” post.  I will try to make it as entertaining as possible for you. 🙂

And actually, I have TWO awards to write about this week.  So first of all . . .

Rules for Accepting the One Lovely Blog Award:

1) Thank the person who nominated you for the award.

I am delighted to thank Jacquelyn Ward of DIY Design Mom for nominating me.  Jackie is a blogging colleague who has become a friend.  She’s currently working on an upgrade for my blog which I hope to share with you soon!

2) Add the One Lovely Blog badge to your post.

See above. 😉

3) Share seven facts about yourself.

  • I have TWO mercury thermometers.  I don’t trust digital thermometers.  I always shake them down over the bed and am very, very careful. (Now I should probably expect calls from the EPA, or possibly my mother.)
  • I have bitten my nails since I was about 8 years old and my ugly fingers embarrass me.
  • I have never had a cavity.
  • Interior decorating paralyzes me.  We have lived here almost four years and haven’t hung a picture since the first week or so.
  • Springtime makes me giddy.  I could totally throw myself down in a bed of daffodils and lie there for hours.
  • I’m quite friendly and like getting up in front of the public, but I find interacting with people exhausting and I love to spend time alone.
  • My husband was my first real boyfriend.

4) Nominate about 15 bloggers you admire by posting a comment on their blog.  I’m cheating here by doing fewer.  It does say ABOUT, after all.

Thomasina of Three Lives of Me

Agatha of Green Issues by Agy

Gunjan of KiipFit

Randi of Poppies and Pinot

Jen of Breastfeeding Needs

Jane of Limeade Gal

Kim of The Lemon Daisy

So y’all see the rules, right?  But if it will stress you out to play, no hard feelings. 🙂

And now for Award #2:  I’ve received it before, but this one comes with a new set of questions, so I’m in!

sisterhood of the world bloggers award
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.

I would like to thank Jen Brenan of Breastfeeding Needs for nominating me.  Jen is the mother of two little ones and writes about parenting and breastfeeding.  As a former long-time breastfeeding mother myself (approximately 13 years, all told), I love her blog.

2. Answer the 10 questions sent to you.

1. How long have you been blogging?

Just over FIVE years.  That makes me an old-timer, y’all.  But I didn’t really start putting much (or the right kind) of effort into blogging until recently.

2. What are your long term goals for your blog?

I want to write more regularly–with an actual editorial calendar, and predictable types of content on different days of the week!  I want to have more of my work featured on other sites, and hope that someday I will be compensated for my work.  Although I won’t stop writing regardless!

3. What do you love about blogging?

The friends I’ve made, and the nice things people say to me about what I write, especially if I make a connection with them or help them in some way through my writing.

4. And what do you hate, or at least just dislike?

It can be a source of stress if I am not writing as much as I think I should or would like to.

5. Do you have children and do they influence your blog?

I have five kids.  They provide subject matter, for sure.  And no doubt being a mother has affected some of what I am interested in writing about–although I do have interests outside my kids!

6. What is one thing you have learned about blogging that you never would have thought of before hand?

I was completely clueless about blogging when I started.  I mean I knew NOTHING.

7. What are your hobbies outside of your blog?

Gardening, hiking, genealogy, poking around cemeteries (all of which I manage to incorporate into this extremely eclectic blog!).

8. Do you work outside of the home, stay home or do a bit of both?

I have been at home for around 21 years now.  Before that I worked part-time.  For many years I did a little grant writing and editing on the side for my mother’s non-profit, and then about five years ago I became my husband’s legal assistant.  He works from home and therefore so do I.  At first all I was going to do was answer the phone, but the job has grown.  So I do the billing, write letters, create and organize the files, do legal research, and even draft pleadings.  I probably work at least 20 hours a week. (And I still do that grant writing and editing too!)

9. How do you juggle it all?

Being able to work from home is key.  I keep all my social media open all the time and sprinkle that in throughout my work day.  I also homeschool my daughter in the middle of all that.  I control my work schedule so if I really need to I can take a day off, or work at night and weekends so I can do family things when I need to.  I never have time to blog, and I don’t clean my house.

10. Tell me one thing about yourself that most of your readers do not know?

I’m going to refer y’all up to my seven random facts above for this question, having exhausted my supply of interesting trivia for the moment.

3. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

I’m going to cheat a little here and recycle some questions I made up for some other nominations that not many nominees responded to.

1. How did you choose the name for your blog?
2. What kind of writing did you do in your pre-blogging life?
3. How do you define blogging in YOUR life?  A job, a vocation, a hobby?
4. Provide a link to your favorite blog post.
5. Provide a link to the post you think is the most popular.
6. What was your very first job and what did you learn from that experience?
7. Does your family read your blog and if so does this affect what you say or how you say it?
8. Have you made virtual friends because of blogging?
9. What is your dream job?
10. What do you do to take care of yourself?

4. Nominate 8 other bloggers, link them in your post and notify them of their nomination.

Again, if any of y’all have already received this award and don’t want to play along again, you won’t hurt my feelings.  🙂

Jacquelyn of DIY Design Mom

Kim of This Ole Mom

Louisa of Ice Cream off Paper Plates

Hannah of Miss Nicklin

Stephanie of Six Pack Mommy

Kathleen of Lifestyle Building Blocks

Brandi of Supergirl Savings

I am so flattered to have been nominated for these two awards, and now y’all know (almost) all there is to know about me.

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Liebster Award

I’m afraid I’m starting to sound like a broken record but I’m excited to announce that Kathleen of Lifestyle Building Blocks for Success has nominated me for the Liebster Award!  I met Kathleen over on Google +, and have enjoyed being a part of her Friday Blog Booster Party.

Like most blogging awards, accepting the Liebster Award involves answering some questions so that you can get to know me better.  So let’s get started!

  • How did you decide on the name of your blog?

That’s an easy one, because I already wrote a post to answer it!

  • Where does your blogging inspiration come from?

Everywhere! This is an eclectic blog that doesn’t fit a niche.  Sometimes it’s a news story that sets me off; another day it’s the beauty of nature or a walk in a graveyard.  There are sticky notes with a few words scrawled on them all over my desk–often I can’t remember what I meant by what I wrote!

  • What is it that you love most about blogging?

I love having a larger platform to share my ideas than just my family (and they probably do as well!).

  • What is your favorite food?

Homemade biscuits, a good steak, homegrown summer vegetables . . . I like to eat.

  • What is your favorite thing to drink (alcoholic or not)?


  • What is an item you cannot live without?

Four years ago my house burned down and I lost virtually all of my personal possessions.  So I can truthfully say there is no item I cannot live without.  I like my computer A LOT, though.

  • What are eleven random facts about yourself?

1.  I was the youngest person to win the Knoxville City Spelling Bee when I was eight years old.  I went on to win it four more times, and one won the regional competition and placed ninth in the National Spelling Bee.  As a result, watching Spelling Bees makes me a nervous wreck.

2.  My favorite color is yellow.  When I was a little girl my bedroom looked like springtime–all yellow everywhere except for the bright green carpet.

3.  I have been writing since I was about four, when I used to dictate my stories to my mother.  The first one was about a girl who always wore an enormous hat.

4.  I am afraid of heights.  My knees get weak if I even stand on a chair.  I also can’t stand to watch people move furniture.

5.  I thought that I would be a perfect mother and that I would have perfectly behaved kids.  I was wrong on both counts.

6.  From first grade until I gave the valedictory address upon graduation from high school, my life was defined by academic success.  Although I know it was the right decision at the time, I still feel disappointed about dropping out of graduate school two classes short of getting an M.A.

7.  I am the product of 16 years of Catholic education.  I am a cradle Catholic and my faith is absolutely central to my life even though I fall short at living it.  Holiness continues to elude me.

8.  I love my children and would do almost anything for them, up to and including sacrificing my life for theirs, but my children are not my whole life.

9.  I am still deeply in love with my husband of 25 years, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t fight.

10. I majored in English at Georgetown University and minored in Theology.  I also took a lot of French classes, and use my fractured French to talk to my husband when we don’t want the kids to understand us or to discuss people who are sitting near us in restaurants.

11. I can make decisions almost instantly, whether it’s about what I should be buying or sizing up the character of someone I have just met.

  • If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Knoxville, Tennessee. (Which is where I was born and currently live,)

  • If you could meet anyone from history, alive or dead, who would it be?

I am very interested in genealogy so I think I’d like to meet some of my ancestors so I could get some of my questions answered.

  • What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Hiking and gardening, and I blog about both of them.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I will still have two kids at home in five years, so my life won’t look a whole lot different.  I do hope that I will have writing published somewhere other than this blog by then.  I can’t devote as much time to that pursuit as I would like.


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do the following:

  • Write a post about the fact that you’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award.
  • In this post, link back to and show some love to the person who nominated you, also nominate 11 other new blogs that would not have more than 1000 followers.  Let these nominated bloggers know that you have nominated them and provide a link back to your page to ensure that they are familiar with the Award.
  • Display the Award in your post and in your side bar.
  • Answer the questions about yourself.
  • Put your post with your nominated 11 blogs for the Liebster Award, on social media. Spread the love!
Here are your questions:
  1. How did you decide on the name of your blog?
  2. Where does your blogging inspiration come from?
  3. What is it that you love most about blogging?
  4. What is your favorite food?
  5. What is your favorite thing to drink (alcoholic or not)?
  6. What is an item you cannot live without?
  7. What are eleven random facts about yourself?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
  9. If you could meet anyone from history, alive or dead, who would it be?
  10. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
  11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

And here’s the part where I am supposed to tell you my nominees, and this is the problem:  The Liebster Award is really supposed to go to a newish blogger with a smaller following.  And most folks I know in that category have already received this award, plus I have had two other awards to give out in recent weeks (an embarrassment of riches, I realize).  So I’m going to let y’all nominate yourselves.  If you fit the criteria for this award, and you have not yet received one, tell me in the comments and I will pass one of my nominations along to you so that I (and your readers) can get to know you better.

Fridays Blog Booster Party Featured

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Well, this has been another banner week for me, y’all!

Monday was my birthday, and who doesn’t like having a little fuss made over them?  Especially when the fuss includes TWO bouquets and a homemade cake (Emily made it).

cake bouquet 1 bouquet 2

Tuesday I published a post related to the situation in Baltimore, and not long after I cross-posted in to BlogHer I got an email telling me it was being featured there!  This was HUGE for me because I’ve never had anything featured anywhere before.  And it just keeps getting better, with my post being the most popular in News and Politics for two days now and almost 1,200 reads!

BlogHer Screenshot

On Wednesday, Knoxville (that’s my hometown, y’all!) got named to yet another top ten list.  I have a post where I keep an ongoing list of those (BECAUSE THERE ARE JUST THAT MANY!) so I quickly updated it and posted it to my favorite Knoxville Facebook group, almost quadrupling my page views for that day (which still amounts to small potatoes to many but was a lot for my blog).

And then on Thursday my friend JcCee nominated me for the Premio Dardos Award!


Premio Dardos (that’s Spanish, y’all!means “prize darts.”  This award recognizes cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values in the form of creative and original writing.  That sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?

Unlike many blogging awards, this doesn’t come with a list of questions for me to answer.  I don’t know why JcCee chose me specifically for this award (which I am so honored to accept), but it’s prompted me to think about how I share those values on this blog.

As many of you are aware, I started this blog when the column I had been writing on life issues for my diocesan paper for several years was canceled.  This blog gave me the opportunity to broaden my focus (and boy did I broaden it!).  But the truth is that I still consider blogging to be a ministry, at least some of the time.  My ethical values are on display in posts like this one.  Posts like this reflect my cultural values.  My personal values are evident in parenting posts like this one.  As for literary values, I’ll leave that one for y’all to decide. 🙂

And now it’s my turn to nominate some bloggers to receive this award.  Y’all don’t have to do anything special, just acknowledge who honored you (that would be ME) and share the love with some other bloggers.  I choose the following four women to receive this award.

Lizzi of Considerings: Life in Silver Linings

Crystal of So-So Mom

Amy of Planning Playtime

Kelly of The OK Momma

Let’s make it even easier . . . you don’t have to do anything AT ALL if you don’t want. 🙂  Just know that this award means that I admire you and your writing and I am happy to know you.

Ten Things of Thankful

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I haven’t been blogging much lately because (among many other reasons) I got sucked down a social media rabbit hole trying to “fix” Twitter.

I’ve been on Twitter since about 2009.  I downloaded an archive of all my tweets the other day and it was like looking at a time capsule.  But I’ve never been super active, and although I have attempted to promote my blog there, my posts never got much (if any) traction.  It remains to be seen whether the improvements I’ve made will result in increased traffic to my blog, since I haven’t written any blog posts since I’ve made them, but I certainly have greater reach and engagement than I had before I started.

When I began my revamp, I was following about 1500 people.  I was in the habit of following anyone who wrote an interesting article, anyone who followed me, and anyone Klout suggested I might want to follow, plus more.  This resulted in an overwhelming feed with a lot of extraneous and uninteresting content.  Moreover, I was following way more people than were following me, which most Twitter wisdom suggests is a Bad Idea.

The amount of apps available to help “fix” Twitter is overwhelming.  Since social media is at this point only a hobby for me, I am only interested in apps that provide something useful for free.  Happily, here are many, many free Twitter-tweakers on the web, and I started by using Tweepi to take a look at all the people I was following who were not following me back.  I used other tools to locate folks who post very little or who haven’t posted in a long time.  Over several weeks, I’ve cut the list of people I follow in half.  I still follow many, many people who are not following me, but they are people who provide high-value content that I find interesting and want to share.

I have used, and am in the process of evaluating, several free tools that provide info on who followed you, who unfollowed you, and more.  Almost all of them provide additional information for a fee.  Some provide the ability to automate responses–like sending a certain message to folks who favorite your posts, for example.  When I’ve figured out which are most useful, I’ll let y’all know, but for now here are some names for your consideration:  Commun.it, unfollowers, justunfollow, and SumAll.

The best way to get people to follow you on Twitter is to interact with them by favoriting and responding to posts.  So far, I haven’t found many free ways to do so automatically that are not obvious and obnoxious.  Commun.it can send out little thank you tweets periodically(which you can personalize) to new followers or to those who retweet your posts, but most others want to send Direct Messages, which I hate to get and therefore will not send!  Happy Cyborg is fun–you actually upload your own tweets to it and it learns about your personality, and will favorite posts on your behalf, make a list of people who interact with you, and even send specific tweets based on criteria you provide.

But most of my engagement work has NOT been automatic, and has taken a lot of time–from personally thanking every person who follows me, to checking out their feeds and retweeting something that interests me, to keeping a list of everyone who favorites or retweets me each week so I can do Follow Friday posts recognizing them all.

Content drives engagement, though, because if someone takes note of your posts and favorites or retweets you, often their followers will notice you as well, and BINGO, suddenly you have a burst of followers.  As I said, it’s not my original content that has been driving this.  Instead, I’ve been relying on websites that provide free content tailored to my interests and which schedule tweets so that I have a steady stream of interesting items going out day and night.  Swayy is the absolute best of these, but I am also using buffer, Klout, and theneeds.  And I continue to tweet articles I read on my own and visit Twitter to retweet things throughout the day.

Will all this pay off with increased page views here?  I’ll have to take some time away from Twitter to write posts if I want to find that out!


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Good Day Sunshine

I got an award, y’all!


This comes courtesy of my friend Elizabeth Flora Ross, who writes at The Writer Revived AND is the founder of The Mom Pledge Blog.  She’s an awesome writer and a wonderful mother to her darling four-year-old, and I admire her very much.

So I was honored and excited to receive this award, which comes with fun questions I get to answer!

1. Why do you blog?

This is a two-parter.  Part one is why I started blogging.   And, as I’ve explained before, I began this blog when I lost my job as a columnist for The East Tennessee Catholic, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, for which I had been writing for several years about life issues.   I gave my blog the same name as my column, and expanded my focus a bit.   I had tried blogging a couple of times before but couldn’t figure out what to say.  This time things clicked.

Now for part two.  I continue to blog because I have things to say, and writing is the best way for me to express them.  I love writing my blog more than anything, and I wish that I had become a blogger during a different phase of my life when I would have had more time to devote to it,

2. What do you see as the top benefit to blogging?
It increases my reach.  Color me conceited, but I do think I have a few beneficial insights that I have always wanted to share with the world.  Now I have a wider audience for my rants. 🙂  I see my blogging (not every post but some of them) as an extension of the ministry I was engaged in with my column.  I like to educate and to inform others about issues that I believe are important.
3. What has been your biggest blogging challenge?
Unlike my first blogging efforts, I am never at a loss for words these days.  TIME is what I don’t have enough of.  I have several pages listing potential blog posts.  But even though I am blessed to be able to write extremely quickly and without second-guessing myself with much editing, it probably takes an hour to write each post, do all the links, and promote it in various places so it will be seen.  That’s an hour I just don’t have most days.
4. Your greatest blogging accomplishment?
I am going to go with being brave enough to participate in the “Things I Am Afraid to Tell You” challenge.  That was very scary.
5. What are you most proud of overall in your life?
My daughter suggests I should say my children.  And of course I am proud of them.  But the more I parent (especially teenagers!) the less I am convinced that I have the right to take credit for their successes.  I really don’t feel like I know what I am doing most of the time.
I can say for sure, though, that one of my proudest achievements was the vaginal delivery, after three C-sections, of my fourth child, who weighed 13 lbs. 5 oz.  I’m proud of that not only because the physical achievement of my body but for all the work I did beforehand to prepare, studying and learning and advocating for myself so that I would not be pushed into yet another surgery.  Pretty much anyone besides my extremely supportive husband–including my doctor–would have said that it was impossible but they were all wrong and maybe a few of them learned something.
6. Name one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year.
I would like to take better care of myself this year.  I have had a gym membership for a few months now and have only managed to attend the orientation session.  I’m fat, and would like to be less fat.  I’m getting to the age where I can no longer assume that I will continue to have the excellent health I have always enjoyed without making some positive changes.
7. My best qualities are _________________.
I am a person with principles and I try hard to live by them.  Practically speaking, I have an almost super-human ability to accomplish large amounts of important things when necessary.
8. I wish I was more ________________.
9. If you could live anywhere, where would you choose and why?
This is an easy one.  Knoxville, Tennessee.  My hometown and my favorite place in the entire world.  (And yes, I have spent time elsewhere–four years in college in D.C. and one year after in Alexandria, Virginia.)  Knoxville is a beautiful town with lots of things to do and it’s full of friendly folks.  Most of my family has been in East Tennessee for over 200 years so maybe that’s why I feel so strongly attached to this place.  It’s home.
10. Where do you live now?
See above. 🙂  I’m currently located in West Knox County and one of these days I will blog about the neighborhood, which is not the sort of place I ever expected to end up.

Now here is the catch that comes with the award!  There are rules to follow, y’all!  See below:

Include the Award Logo in your blog post

OK, did that!

Link to the person who nominated you

That’s covered.

Answer 10 questions about yourself

No problem there!

Nominate 10 bloggers and give them 10 questions to answer

ACK!  That’s the hard part, because Elizabeth and I travel in some of the same circles and she has already snagged some of my favorites.  So, let me think . . .

Back to Allen

A Day in the Life

My So-Called Sensory Life

Life’s Dewlaps

The Family Pants

The Eyedancers

Parenting Is Funny

Korinthia’s Quiet Corner

Allison Carmen

And now I will invent questions for them to answer!

1. How did you choose the name for your blog?
2. What kind of writing did you do in your pre-blogging life?
3. How do you define blogging in YOUR life?  A job, a vocation, a hobby?
4. Provide a link to your favorite blog post.
5. Provide a link to the post you think is the most popular.
6. What was your very first job and what did you learn from that experience?
7. Does your family read your blog and if so does this affect what you say or how you say it?
8. Have you made virtual friends because of blogging?
9. What is your dream job?
10. What do you do to take care of yourself?

I’m looking forward to learning more about y’all!  And thank you again, Elizabeth–I am honored that you thought of me and I enjoyed answering the questions (even though it took me forever–see above biggest blogging challenge!

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