Blogging conundrums for non-visual types, plus other quick takes

1. I had a couple hours free the other day and I started packing.  Nine boxes full, plus a big bag of stuff to get rid of.  It feelsF1 9.12.12 great!  Now if only we knew when and where we are moving.

2. I attended a blog conference last weekend, thanks to Julie Walsh‘s amazing hospitality and good planning.  It was awesome.  I got to meet blogging friends Julie, Rosie, Lisa, Cristina T., Cristina R., Erica, Mary and Abbey for the first time, and I got to meet new friends too.

3.  Leah Libresco spoke at the conference.  Leah is an atheist-to-Catholic convert who blogs at Unequally Yoked.  Her book was just released yesterday, Arriving At Amen: 7 Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer, and I can’t wait to read it.

4. At the conference, Cristina T. spoke about the importance of having Pinterest-friendly images for your posts.  I get a fair number (for me) of hits from Pinterest, even though my graphics are horrible.  I imagine I could get a lot more traffic with a little time invested (though what’s the point of getting more traffic, since this makes me basically no money?  Hmmmm. . . .).  Anyway, every time I play around with making images on PicMonkey or Canva, they look dumb to me.

Like I took half an hour to play around on Canva, and ended up with this.  Maybe it’s okay, I don’t know.  But I couldn’t get it to save correctly (though I just now figured out a work around).  I ran out of time and patience.

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I’ve gotten pretty confident (or at least not self-conscious) with my writing but graphics are a different matter.  The visual arts are just not my strong suit.

F1 9.12.12 v25. Speaking of blogging friends, I also get hits occasionally from kind bloggers who put me on their “blog roll.”  A lot of bloggers have this.  Do you pay much attention to them?

I have a list at the bottom of my blog, consistent of people I know in real life (“IRL”) who happened to have blogs when I started mine.  And I haven’t changed the list since then, even though there are lots more people I know now IRL who have blogs.  Plus I follow, like, 150+ blogs.  But I don’t read each of their posts every time.  So basically I don’t even know where to start with a blog roll.  And what if you put someone on your blog roll but stop reading them; how do you politely take them off?

6. I am digging Carey  Mulligan ‘s no-makeup look on the cover of the current issue of Vogue.

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I’ve been rocking the no-makeup look lately, but Vogue hasn’t come knocking on my door yet.  😉

7.  Happy weekend everyone.  Click over to Kelly for more 7 Quick Take posts.

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On Writing Well and Why I Blog

I recently finished On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  I enjoyed it because it reminded me why I blog.  Some people craft, not because the world needs another afghan or cross-stitch sampler, but because it’s rewarding to make something yourself and do it well.  I’m not much for making things with my hands, but I like to turn a phrase.  And doing so well is a challenge–a fun challenge.  Too many things in life are challenging but not fun, or fun but not challenging.  Writing well is both.

The book is full of writing wisdom, a lot of which I’ve heard before in legal writing class–be brief, use short words and sentences, choose strong verbs and nouns over adjectives and adverbs, don’t lose your reader’s attention.  Write about what interests you.  (Okay, that last part wasn’t in legal writing class.)  A challenge is doing this while developing a distinctive voice.  (I should add that Zinsser takes what could be a dry manual and makes it a book that is fun to read on its own.   The chapters on sports writing and science reporting, however, I skipped.)

Blogging is a low-risk, relatively high-reward way to practice writing well.  For me, it’s fun to look at a paragraph and think, “How many sentences could I chop here?” or to look at a phrase and think, “how could I replace all these words with a single word?”  Until it gets to be midnight, then I stop and hit publish.  And 99.999% of the population will never read it; the rest (Hi Mom!) don’t care that it’s not perfect.

Zinsser, in a book written before blogging existed, is harsh on blogging.  He says to stay warm and personal while avoiding chattiness and clichés.  I wonder how the chattiness prohibition applies to blogging  Grace‘s blog, for example, epitomizes chattiness, but she’s a great writer in her own distinctive way.  Meanwhile, a lot of blogs or articles that use the same style fall flat.  I think the distinction is that Grace writes exactly the way she talks (so I’ve been told on good authority), whereas others (myself included!) sometimes try too hard.

So, lots of food for thought here.  At another stage of my life, I might have gotten discouraged by this book.  At this stage, I find it a fun challenge.

(I’m linking up with Jessica for her monthly What We’re Reading link-up.  I’m a week late but here I am!)

Important Princess Kate news, blogging faves & childish obscenities

This Thursday night, I’m linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes (or I will tomorrow, anyway).

Big news in the world of fashion and style: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (nee Kate Middleton), recently made a public appearance wearing a navy blue dress with black stockings and shoes.

Shortly after she appeared wearing a brown dress with black stockings and black shoes.

I don’t think this got nearly the press it should have.  I love navy blue, but it’s always a pain figuring out what shoes to wear with it.  I usually go with brown boots and tights.  Another option is nude pantyhose with nude heels (so much nudity!  I’m blushing!).  But, even though Princess Kate wears nude ‘hose, I’m still inclined to take the majority view that–while okay when necessary–they’re not a great look.

But navy and black I can get behind.

2.  Bonnie over at A Knotted Life hosts this awesome event called the Sheenazing Awards.  In honor of Ven. Fulton Sheen, it’s a way for people to nominated and vote for their favorite Catholic blogs in a variety of categories (there’s also a category for best non-papist blog).

You should check out and vote on the list of nominees and check out some new-to-you blogs while you’re at it.  You can vote for me in the “best under-appreciated blog” category–thank you, all of you (I know there were at least three!) who nominated me!

I feel kind of funny about that category.  Do I think I’m underappreciated?  I want to say, “oh no, I don’t feel underappreciated.”  But maybe I do?  If I do I don’t want to admit it.  I’ll admit that I could stand more appreciation if it were to come my way.  Let’s leave it at that.

3. Most of the bloggers I nominated made it to the list of nominees or honorable mentions, but some didn’t.  That’s likely because I didn’t enter in the blog name and URL correctly on the nomination form.  So, I’d like to give a shout-out to

Jill of Dulce Donum, whom I tried to nominate for Most Inspiring Blog,

Lisa of Joie de Vivre, whom I tried to nominate for Miss Congeniality, and

John Janaro of Never Give Up, whom I tried to nominate for Best Blog by a Man (funny category but it makes sense given blogging is such a female-dominated thing).

4. Bonnie somehow neglected my very favorite genre, that of Catholic Lawyer Mommy Bloggers, which includes these ladies (roughly in the order of how well I know them),

Martha of Shiny Happy Catholics,

Theresa of The Brez Blog (soon to go private, I think?)

The mysterious, anonymous, soul-searchingly honest Law In Mom :-),

Liz of The Gupdate,

Annabelle at Written by the Finger of God,

Renee at Cappedocia in Lowell.

Am I missing anyone?  I hope I’m not missing anyone.

5. I followed The Nester’s advice and “quieted” my living room after removing the Christmas decorations.  I can’t wait to continue redecorating, but for now I’m enjoying the breathing space that all those bare walls give.  I struggle to figure out how much to hang on the walls.  I love clean, minimalist decorating, but I usually feel like we need more decorative stuff to counterbalance all the ugly, everyday junk that accumulates.

I’m looking at you, Mr. Purple-Ed.

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I’m thinking those lamps should be lower, or perhaps moved altogether. The blue couch is for sale on Craigslist anyway.

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Anybody want my impulse-buy Swiss cheese lamp?

Anybody want my impulse-buy Swiss cheese floor lamp?

 

6. A certain auntie is about to get the best thank you card of her life.

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This is what happens when your six-year-old is great at phonics but still can’t distinguish between the “F” and “TH” sounds.

7. Back to you, Kelly.  Happy weekend all!

Top Posts of 2014

I thought writing a Top Posts post would be easy but, per usual, I found myself in overthinking Kids Sitting on top of a car roofland.  See, of the 10 posts with the most hits, 8 were written in past years.

1. Style & the Stay At Home Mom: A Quest–I hit a nerve with this one.  Apparently I’m not alone in my grocery store dilemma.

2. Style & the Stay at Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 1

3. Menu Plan Monday: Perfect Health Diet, Part 2

4. Can You Shop for the Perfect Health Diet at Aldi?–A lot of people search for “Aldi coconut oil” and land here.  Blogging is sexy.

5. Style & the Stay at Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 2: This includes my all-time favorite pictures of my husband.

Lesson learned: if you’re after hits, stick with niche subjects–SAHM style (who knew that even existed??) and the Perfect Health Diet.

Posts with the most hits that were written in 2014:

1. Boden Spring 2014 in Review: People like to Google pictures of real people non-models in a piece of clothing before ordering, and my pictures here fit the bill.

2. Five Favorite Meals to Bring to a Friend

3. The Mom Bag and My Existential Angst:  This got a lot of comments.  People share my angst.

4. Rules of Civility: The Book That Wrecked My Blog:  Deceptive title, but it got linked to by Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Say wha?

5. Old Navy Spring 2014 in Review: More dressing room selfies.  I look at these pictures of myself from 10 months ago and wonder, “Who is that skinny person?” What a difference a year makes.  Wop wop.

These all were written in the first half of the year, so it makes sense they got more hits than posts written later in the year.  It would be more accurate if I took the average number of hits per day published and ranked that way.  That’s way too much work, but the skewering of results bothers me here.

Overthinking, overthinking, overthinking . . . 

And here are my five favorites of the posts I wrote in 2014 . . . okay, I can’t whittle it down to five.  I love my own writing that much (and I just typed “righting”–what is that supposed to tell me?):

1. My review of The Rosie Project and thoughts on what it says about settling for Mr. Good Enough (guest post at Atelier).

2. My Life Is Hell: And Other Uplifting Thoughts on the Parenting of High Maintenance Girls

3. Why The Book Thief Is a Terrible Book: I love ripping into a bad book almost as much as relishing a good book.

4. I Don’t Like Being a Mom and That’s Okay

5. If I Were Born 100 Years Earlier I Would Have Been a Nun: what contraception, the vocations crisis, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Fifty Shades of Gray all have to do with each other.  I enjoy stirring the pot periodically.

6. Satan Hates Community

Top Five Search Terms (other than searches for my blog name):

1. perfect health diet meal plan
2. stay at home mom wardrobe
3. stay at home mom clothes
4. eat all the things  (people searching for this work of fine art)
5. aldi coconut oil

Okay, that’s enough of me writing about my writing.  So tell me . . . what do you think about my writing?  😉

For real though: If you’d like to guest post on the Style & the SAHM theme, please send me an email: thisfelicitouslife @ gmail .com.  It doesn’t matter whether you have a blog yourself, and the post needn’t be fancy.  You can see some examples here and here.

These posts are a big draw and I’d like to keep posting on the topic.  I can only post so many selfies, though.  Plus I’m feeling less than motivated lately.  So I could use your help!

 

 

 

Wine, Whooping Cough, Holy Sex and Other Favorites

and other favorites:

1. Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio:

I’m not a big white wine drinker, but this is heaven in a glass when served chilled.  It also makes my evening blog browse all the more enjoyable, like–

2. Heather’s Tuesday post.  OMG.  She cracks me up.  God bless her.  (Her post is where holy sex comes in.)

( On a scale of 1 to 10, how annoying is it when I put something provocative like “holy sex” in the title of the post as a teaser and then you find out my post isn’t really about whatever provocative word I used??  Never mind, don’t answer that. )

3. Amelia’s post on her family’s experience with whooping cough. Super interesting.

4. Liberté Méditerranée coconut yogurt.  Wow, that stuff is so dang good.

5. Bergamot whipped body butter from For Goodness Soap.  Bergamot is my new favorite scent–spicy and citrusy–and this is the best all-natural moisturizer I’ve tried so far.

Happy Wednesday y’all!  Check out Heather’s blog for more Five Favorites post.  

One Year On the Interwebs

— 1 —

Today is the one-year anniversary of my favorite blog.

The writer is wicked clever, if a bit narcissistic.  Here are some of my favorite of her posts from the way back of when:

In Which I Learn the Danger of Pious Contemplation (a friendly parody of One Thousand Gifts)

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— 2 —

A Life’s Work: On Becoming A Mother . . . Thoughts on the Law of the Gift

— 3 —

Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

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— 4 —

The Three-Martini Playdate

— 5 —

Romance At Age 3 (part 1 & part 2)

— 6 —

A Look at the Bad Old Days: New Year’s Reflections

— 7 —

Choose Ye This Day Whom Ye Will Serve (on the travails of parenting a strong-willed child)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Privacy and Mommy Blogging

I’ve written a guest post at The Mirror about privacy issues for mommy bloggers (or any bloggers).  If you’re interested in my thoughts on the matter, you can read them here.  And even if you’re not, you should still check out the rest of The Mirror, a new online publication where women speak about living traditional values in the modern, post-feminist world.  My friends there have published lots of good content and have more coming.  Thank you, Mary, Julie, and Joy for the opportunity to write for you!

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Midnight Musings {7QT}


— 1 —

Apparently there is a cat-fight-trying-hard-not-to-be-a-catfight in the Catholic mommy blogger world.  Do you like your mommy blogs upbeat and shiny happy perfect?  Or do you like Catholic Mom Doomsday blogs (phrase courtesy of Kendra)?  I prefer my blogs a bit on the doomsday side, but I reserve the right to be annoyed by whomever I want.

— 2 —

On a related note, Rosie makes the simple yet oft-forgotten (by me!) point that if you don’t like it you don’t have to read it.  I need to have this engraved on all my web-browsing devices.

— 3 —

And although her blog is the shiny happy perfect type that I ordinarily don’t like to read so much, I was so touched by Sheena’s post here.  You go on being you!

— 4 —

Speaking of people being themselves, another topic making the rounds is the Myers-Briggs personality test.  There are several freebies floating around the internet.  The first one I took said I’m an INTJ, which puts me in good company with Vlad Putin.  Apparently, very very few women have this personality type and I was feeling pretty psyched about my bad self.  Then I took another one and it said I am an ISTJ, which is more common, and makes me more like Scully from the X-Files, and this is less exciting.  And then I looked at this quick version, and I wonder if I am a “F” rather than a “T” because all of these “F” qualities apply, I think:

  • Kind
  • Closer to “bleeding heart” than “ice in the veins”
  • Sensitive to criticism
  • Emotional reaction to conflicts
  • Want to be seen as warm, sensitive and sincere
  • Compassion above truth.

I’m nice!  Really I am!

— 5 —

And all this is a sign that I really need to go to bed.

— 6 —

My brother has been visiting for a few days, and he is just a peach.  He watches the girls while I nap, does the dishes, watches the girls some more, does some more dishes, watches the girls some more while I nap again.  (I don’t see my siblings nearly enough and somehow I nap away half of our visits, even visits with a sister I haven’t seen in over a year.)

— 7 —

I did an elimination diet of sorts for Girl 2 and re-introduced wheat two days ago (background hereand here, if you are interested).  No sign of a reaction.  Her eczema has not reappeared.  This is how I feel at this point:

HOmer head exploding

Have a good weekend! Thank you, Jen at Conversion Diary, for hosting today’s yesterday’s link up!

 

Sponsored Posts Poll, SPIDERS, and (Non) Sexy Shoes {7QT}

— 1 —

This past week, for the first time, I got offers to do “sponsored posts,” where a merchant sends me a product for free in exchange for my writing a post about it. Up until now, all I’ve gotten are requests for free publicity (which, by the way, I ignore).

I’m $0.99 in the hole for this blog, having bought an iPhone picture editing app. If you count the hours and hours I spend, calculated at my rate as an attorney, I am definitely thousands and thousands in the hole. That’s probably not an accurate calculation because even if I didn’t blog I probably wouldn’t do more legal work than I am now. Still, it would be nice to make some $ for my time. Also, I’d eventually like to upgrade my blogging platform and get rights to “thisfelicitouslife.com” without the pesky “wordpress” in there. But that has a price.

So yeah, it would be nice to make a little moolah, or at least free stuff. I kind of agree with Grace that “if you can make some mascara money off of your blog . . . that’s great.” Of course if she makes mascara money, I’m looking at . . . bubble gum ball money. But that’s okay, I like bubble gum.

**Updated**

WordPress don’t ‘low no sponsored posts ’round here/

WordPress don’t ‘low no sponsored posts ’round here/

We don’t care what wordpress don’t ‘low/

We’ll do those sponsored posts any- . . .

Uh, no, actually, I won’t.  No sponsored posts for me.  Never mind.

— 2 —

So, I guess you can see which way I’m leaning. Still, I ask you, as an academic matter:

On a related note, this article “Ten Things That Make Your Blog a Hot Mess,” has some good tips, I think.

— 3 —

I went spider egg hunting Thursday.

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We have (what seems to me) an infestation in our basement. A dead black widow showed up in front of my washing machine last year. Scared the crap out of me. I called the exterminator, who looked around and said, basically, “You don’t have a real problem. Don’t waste your money hiring me to spray.” I appreciated the honesty. Gotta love a small town, family-run business.

Also, I called the pediatrician before the exterminator, to ask about the toxicity of having the basement sprayed. The dr. said not to bother, because we probably have “tens of thousands” of black widows in our yard.

*Gulp*

So fortunately this year all I’ve seen are HUGE ugly wolf spiders and various other non-black widows. But still, they don’t belong in my basement.

— 4 —

Girl 1 had a little friend over a few weeks ago. They were playing in our basement/toy room area and saw a spider. I was busy (blogging) and didn’t feel like getting off my tush, traipsing downstairs, and killing a spider for them. Theys saw it; they weren’t about to touch it. Even if it were poisonous, it’s not like it was going to attack them.

Anyway, Girl 1’s friend said, “At my house, my daddy always kills spiders.”

Me: “Does your daddy get up from what he’s doing and go downstairs and kill them every time you see one?”

Little friend: *Pause* “Umm, we don’t really have spiders at my house.”

Good for you.

— 5 —

On Tuesday I made the girls Play-Doh (again!), using a different recipe by following this video (which Girl 1 enjoyed watching over and over). They girls played with it and ate it. I wasn’t worried because it’s non-toxic. I fondly remember the super-salty taste of the play dough my mom made years ago for me. But then . . . .

— 6 —

Girl 2’s eczema flared up again, a little. Oh yeah, homemade playdough is made with flour which has, duh, gluten . . . .

Her eczema still comes and goes since then. Is it remnants of the playdough in her system? Is it tomatoes (those definitely affect her somewhat)? Pineapple? Apples? Dairy? Eggs? Is her skin just sensitive to everything?

I kind of wish I were not so overeducated or of a different generation, so I could just feed her Kraft Mac N’ Cheese and red KoolAid with a clear conscience. But I’m not. So I can’t. So I don’t.

I’m trying to keep her on a limited diet for the next few days, sticking with foods I’m sure are safe, to try and pinpoint the irritants. But it’s hard to do with Ms. Picky around as the big sister.

— 7 —

Anyway, enough kvetching. Good news: my ugly sandals are chic! Christina Binkley of the Wall Street Journal says so! Apparently, my sandals say “I am woman. Hear me shout: My feet are happy.” Boo-yeah. Or at least, they almost are chic. Turns out, my sandals should be comfortable without being “actual comfort shoes.” Whatev, Ms. Binkley. What. Ev.

Have a good weekend! Thank you, Jen at Conversion Diary, for hosting today’s yesterday’s link up!