It Took Me 8 Blogs

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It took me 8 blogs and two years of blogging to…

 

:: Stop listening to all blogging advice out there.

:: Realize how unimportant SEO is. I learned this from my favorite blog, Zen Habits. While he wasn’t giving out advice when I read it, Leo shared why he doesn’t apply SEO. He’s proved, with his impressive following, that you just don’t need it. He discusses why quality always trumps SEO and marketing.

:: Not feel like I need to be “Pinterest-able.” While I share some things that may be and I have the pin it button, I don’t buy the ‘you always need a picture for your posts.’ One of my favorite posts to write was a letter to myself. I think that adding a photo to that post would have been a disservice because sometimes words paint enough of a picture.

:: Know when not to blog and to never apologize or justify needing a break. Being ‘consistent’ is overrated. After all, life isn’t consistent.

:: Write only on what I love. That being original is not a process, it’s not a step-by-step guide, a how-to. Being original is not something gained from the advice of others. It’s only achieved by being you at all times because you are original. 

:: Recognize blogging envy and wipe the floor of it.

:: Realize I’m not a narcissistic attention seeker just because I blog.

::  Share only what I feel I can look back on and be proud of or will make me smile with reminiscing eyes.

::  Know that I’m enough, that we all have a story. That a post doesn’t have to be ‘planned inspiration.’ That sharing something as simple as a rainy day is enough. That I don’t have to be something. I can just be.

::  Understand that numbers aren’t a reflection of quality nor impact.

:: Learn that I’m not a category. I tried a book blog, a movie blog, a DIY blog but I realized I just want a blog. I don’t even call it a lifestyle blog because labels irk me. While I follow bloggers who do focus on certain topics, I figure, don’t we all? I focus on simple living, reading, repurposing, sustainability, travel and some others. Our passions are our focus.

:: Plan less. Although I do jot some notes in my composition book, take pictures while exploring the every day, I am coming to love planning a little less. Pretty much all of my posts are written the day of and the risk adverse person in me gets hives at the thought, but the free spirit in me loves it because then you never know what’s around the corner. That way everything is exciting.

:: Not install stat counters. While I didn’t pay much attention to stats before, this is the first blog where I didn’t install anything to follow stats. I don’t want to become attached to numbers. I just want to share beautiful things and enjoy writing, snapping pictures, creating a space I love and connecting with others.

 

What have you learned in the process of blogging? How long have you been blogging?  

Also, I’m incredibly stoked to share my first podcast this Sunday for Simplifying Sunday!

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20 Things

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While I’m not on Instagram, I did hear about the “20 things” concept that was passed around. And Heather, from one of my favorite blogs to read, Life Unexpected, decided to take it from Instagram into the blogging medium. I liked that. So here are 20 things about me.

1. In joining up with Blogtember, my favorite piece of advice is rather non-traditional (I like non-traditional) and it is, “quit what you aren’t good at.” I first heard this in Penn Jilette’s podcast, Penn’s Sunday School. Penn had asked a famous female feminist comedian (which I’m blanking on her name) why she is as successful as she is and she said, she quit everything she was bad at. That stuck with me and it’s what I do now. There is so much pressure not to quit, not to change your mind, and I say bollocks to the whole thing. If it’s not working out for you, don’t waste your time on it but at least you gave it a go. Now that’s not to confuse talent with challenge. You can be good at something but it be challenging at times, but recognize when you are good at something.

2. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do believe that we can find a reason for everything happening. I think the difference between the two outlooks is who has control, and I believe we do.

3. The only make-up I own is mascara and that’s if I wear makeup. I haven’t put on nail polish in over 8 years, nor do I have the slightest sense of fashion or care for what’s “hip.” However, give me a twirly dress and I’m a happy camper. I love a good twirl.

4. I’m 5’2″ but my husband says I have “thunder feet.” Unfortunately we’re on the third floor, so I try to be as quiet as possible when I walk.

5. Every time November 5th rolls around, I do or say something related to V for Vendetta and the phrase I can quote from heart, “Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.” I watched the movie first and read the book second. The movie was good, the book was powerful and the intent behind it supports much of my philosophy on life. That we must never be resolve in the face of wrong doing. That we must stand up and let actions always speak louder than words.

6. One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was to voluntarily deploy to Bagram, Afghanistan. The people I met there were, and still are, the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life. And I can still speak some Farsi to this day.

7. I find the best way to hone my creative energies is to step away from the computer. Even most of my ideas for the manuscript I’m writing came when I wasn’t on the computer.

8. I think that where we spend our dollars is more of a vote than voting itself.

9. I am vegan but I’m not a big fan of the word vegan. I use it, here and there, if I need to get the point across. I don’t really like words that are more about what you don’t do. I rather focus on what I do.

10. Writing is the best way I know how to express myself. If I talked about what writing means to me, I’d likely cry.

11. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality. I’m either incredibly serious or incredibly silly. I think a nice balance of both does the body good.

12. If I’m a groupie of anything it’s Joss Whedon. My favorite show of his is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I’ve seen at least (not kidding) 30 times (all 7 seasons). If you are a Whedon fan as well, I have a DIY coming up that’s up your alley. I’m looking forward to his new show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

13. If I’m ever asked what do I love the most, my answer is unequivocally, learning. Which is why I’m sharing a new series next Thursday all about learning. It’s called “Things I learned Thursday,” my play off of the “Things I love Thursday” because my love is learning.

14. After I’m done RV-ing the country, I plan to build my own Earthbag/Cob house and live off-the-grid, supplying my own power, water, and food.

15. I believe in honesty and feel that often honesty is confused with oversharing. Though I’m a rather public person, I don’t overshare but what I do share is honest to the core.

16. I have recently fallen in love with foreign films. Now I feel like I was missing out all because I thought it might be ‘work’ to read a few subtitles.

17. If I died today (though I hope I don’t) I’d want my husband to know I was happy. I lived fully and I felt with everything I had.

18. I try to avoid absolutes at all cost (words like always and never) because life is constantly changing and I prefer to leave all doors open.

19. I think being a woman does not restrict you to doing certain things and vice versa. I remember two distinct times when I made this point. Once in the Air Force when we had to move the furniture and one of the guys said, “I think the guys got this.” So I squeezed in and lifted the file cabinet. The other time was not that long ago. I was building my first wood table from wood studs that someone left by the trash. I was picking out a stain in Home Depot and a man asked me what I’m making. I told him, I was making a wood table for my balcony. He said, “all by yourself?” I said, “why not?”

20. I once moved a refrigerator down three flights of stairs by myself because I believed I could do it (and it needed to be recycled). My husband wasn’t home. So I told him after the fact, otherwise he would have worried about me.

What are some things about you? Feel free to join up!

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5 Ways To Give to Strangers

My 5 is a new series where I share five things on any topic that excites me. Ever since we began to give freely and learned the benefits of doing so, I find it fitting to do a post on giving to strangers. Why give to strangers? Why not? We all share this space and if we can’t show a little honest generosity, then all hope is lost for connection and community. If there is anything I think can make this world a bit better, it’s some more community.

1. Grow a Garden, Give it Away

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When you buy a lemon, orange, avocado or anything else with seeds, keep the seeds. Plant them. Grow them. Or take your chives, garlic, pineapple tops/ends and plant them. There are numerous tutorials on Pinterest for doing so. I find the toilet paper roll method to be the best for seeds. Then once your seeds are the size of starter plants, like you would buy at the store, put them some place for the public to see and label them free. Afterall, the seeds didn’t cost you much of anything and a lot of times you can even find dirt for free on Craigslist. I have plans to do this in my apartment, set up a tiny table near the mailboxes and put up some free herbs and veggies.

2. Make Something, Bring an Animal Joy

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We can’t exclude the non-human animals in the category of strangers, for we share this space with them too. Try making a toy or sewing a quilt and donate it to your local animal organization (be it a shelter or foster center, sometimes vet clinics are looking for this stuff too). This photo is from a non-profit no-kill cat shelter that Matt and I used to volunteer at. From working there, we learned just how helpful it was for people to donate beds, toys, and the like. Every day we came and opened up those gates, they darted out and skidded across the floor, chasing balls, flicking toys with their little feet and curling up on blankets. So you can either give a blanket or toy you already have or make one. Since sometimes money isn’t all they need. Sometimes a place to curl up, eat out of (so if you make pottery, try a little food dish!), and toss around is just as good. And if you don’t want to make something or have something to give, go to the free section of Craigslist and you’d be surprised some things on there that could make your local furrballs (and non-furry) quite happy.

3. Save Your Jars, Put Them on Craigslist

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Though recycling is good, salvaging is always better. So save those jars. The best way to remove the labels, and this is what I do, is to: 1) soak them 2) scrape off as much as you can 3) mix one part baking soda to one part vegetable oil 4) spread it over the remains of your label, let it sit for about an hour and then rub it off using a towel and rubbing in circles. At one point I had 16 of these little puppies (apparently we like the Food for Lovers queso a lot). I removed the labels and posted them in the free section of Craigslist. I had 8 phone calls and 5 emails in that day (and that was before I quickly took down the ad because I had enough requests). The person who got them said she’d been wanting to organize for a while but just didn’t want to pay for jars to organize. So, save a stranger some money.

4. Find a Rock, Send a Message

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Inspire people in unexpected ways by leaving a message on a rock. This is something I’ve been doing more of. It gives you a chance to do something fun and put a smile on someone’s face or merely give them hope. And the bonus – it’s no cost to you, with the exception of your creative energy and scouting out places to put your messages.

5. Visit the Library, Leave a Note

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Grab a book. Write something nice. My favorite is to pick a book that inspired me and write something in it. Try not to use anything too thick for the note, otherwise it will start to damage the spine over time (a little tidbit I learned working at libraries). I prefer to use a skinny piece of scrap paper and a bit of tape. A post it note would work just fine too because they are thin and automatically stick-able. *I wrote this one in one of my favorite writing books, On Writing by Stephen King.

I’m working on another way to give back to strangers that I’m super excited about, but it will get its very own post!

What ways do you give back to strangers?

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Handcrafted How To :: Postcard Pendants

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I’ve recently become a lover of old postcards. Ever since I found this little corner of history in an antique mall in Austin, I fell in love. I’d just sit down and flip through thousands of postcards, as hours passed me by. It’s not about the thing, the postcards themselves. It’s about the stories they tell. They inspire. They bring back. They give us a glimpse into the past and what life was like ‘back when.’ My favorites are postcards of painted places. And so I’m going to share a tutorial with you for making postcard pendants. Maybe you have a favorite place, a dream destination. With this tutorial, you’ll be able to wear that place around your neck as constant inspiration for dreaming big.

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Hammer │ Chisel │Mod Podge – Dimensional Magic │Postcards│Scissors│Necklace Supplies │An old pendant (either earrings or a necklace pendant will work – preferably used, so as to upcycle and make use of what is already available) │A pin

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STEP 1 : Peruse through and pick out your favorite postcards.

STEP 2 : Find an old pendant. It can be in the form of earrings (which are great because then you can make two necklaces) or a necklace. I found these at a local thrift shop. The best places are thrift shops, garage sales, estate sales and Craigslist. As with all of my tutorials, everything is as repurposed as possible.

STEP 3 : Use your chisel and hammer and gut out the inside. Just make sure it’s as flat as possible. You’re not always going to be able to get all of it out though, and that’s okay.

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STEP 4 : Pick out a spot that you want to use in your post card for the pendant. Here is a trick (which I didn’t include in the supplies because it’s optional) – create a stencil for the shape you need. I found an old plastic bottle and cut my needed shape out of it. Clear is best because then you can be sure what you are cutting out is what you want.

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STEP 5 : Cut out your piece and put it in the pendant. If it’s nice and snug, then it may be fine. But just in case, use some glue to get it in. Otherwise it will rise and bubble when you add in the mod podge.

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STEP 6 : Take your dimensional mod podge and slowly fill the pendent, covering the image completely. Use the pin if you get any bubbles. Your finger will also suffice. It will be very fuzzy at first. Let it sit for 3 hours and you will have a clear postcard pendent, turning the discarded into the cherished.

For the curious:  The other postcard I used is an old car driving down Big Foot Pass in South Dakota.

What place would you choose for a postcard pendant?

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Also, after a lot of thinking and messing around with my shop website, I’ve decided to hold off on the shop for a few reasons. Mostly, I’ve had an idea for a different shop for a long time that I’m super stoked about and I’ve decided to focus on that idea. So I’ll share that once it comes to fruition. In the meantime, I’m going to share what I hope are original and helpful tutorials. If you see what you like, I’m willing to sell them and will only charge for the cost of the items and shipping, so as to cover my costs.

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Movies Watched In :: August

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Because there are so many films I saw, but I do love film, I’m going to try and keep the reviews for this monthly post brief.

*The title of each film is linked to the trailer for it.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED

Blackfish (documentary) – My full thoughts and review can be found here.

I’m Fine Thanks (documentary) – This was right up my alley! If you are at all fed up with complacency and what’s ‘expected’  to be happy, then this film is for you.

What Maisie Knew (drama) – Who doesn’t love Alexander Skarsgård? Two of the films I watched this month starred him in it (the other being Disconnect). Man, that little girl in that film can act! This story was simple to the very core but so, so beautiful from beginning to end.

Disconnect (drama/thriller) – This one has a Crash feel to the way it flows from character to character. In a nutshell it is a look at the personal impact that the negative effects of technology can and does have on people.

Before Midnight (drama/romance) – This is the third in a trilogy of, in my opinion, some of the best romance films. I highly recommend the lot of them. The films are most known for the beautiful long reels of scene, with the actors having to memorize lots of lines to get one very long shot. They are so natural and I love the things they chat about.

The World’s End (comedy/sci-fi) – I’m a big fan of anything by Simon Pegg and a sucker for British humor. So if you aren’t a fan of his humor then this movie is not for you. If you are….see it! Oh the joy this film brought me from the characters, the lines and the story.

REALLY LIKED IT

Smashed (drama) – This lovely story is about two alcoholics married to one another and you can see what happens when one tries to get sober but the other doesn’t. I adore the cast in this film and the story as a whole.

The Call (thriller) – This is one of those movies that had a so-so rating but rather surprised me. It had my attention and I enjoyed it.

The Elephant in the Living Room (documentary) – This film looked into raising wild animals as pets and the reprecussions of doing so. What really tugged at my heart strings was when they showed the market for them, which goes under the radar a lot and this film shed some light on that. Worth a watch.

Serendipity (romance) – When I put stuff up on Craigslist for free and had wonderful interactions with people, one woman recommended this film. I liked it. It was a happy, nice kind of flick and we can always use happy nice.

IT WAS GOOD

The Story of Luke (drama) – I didn’t love it but I liked it nonetheless. It was a nice light watch. Honestly, I thought Seth Green stole the show in that role.

Mud (drama) – I’m not a big McConaughey fan but I was pretty impressed with this and his job in it.

MEH – JUST OKAY

Any Day Now (drama)- I appreciate the idea behind it but it felt overly forced, making it hard to connect to the characters.

Consumed (documentary) – I am drawn to any film about our addiction to consumption and commodities and while there were some insights in the film, it felt a bit amateur and ‘been there done that.’ (*The title is linked to the full documentary)

Star Trek: Into Darkness (sci-fi) – I hate to put this here but I agree with my husband, it felt like a big budget film with a lot of holes in it. It was a pretty picture but otherwise left me feeling… meh.

 

UGH REALLY?

A Place at the Table (documentary) – Without going on a big long rant on this one, I’ll say that it felt more like propaganda and less like an educational piece. That and I wish it focused more on under-education of how to eat cheaply and less on ‘hunger’ because that wasn’t the real issue.

 

What movies did you watch this past month? Any recommendations?

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