Category Archives: blogging

Walks, walls and four-leaf clovers

I had an epiphany the other day while Bugaboo and I were walking home after dropping Princess off at school.  We’re in the midst of a heat wave this last couple of weeks, so we were taking our time walking home.  At one point on our walk, there is a concrete retaining wall that Bugaboo loves to walk on.  As he was carefully taking each step, he was so proud to do it “by myself.”  Sure, it took us twice as long to cover the distance, but the joy in his face was worth the extra time in the heat.  I took a little more notice of the trees and grass and absorbed the beauty of God’s creations.  After the wall, I was watching the ground and noticed a four-leaf clover in amongst the grass.

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I have never found a four-leaf clover before.  I’ve been right there when others have spotted them, but I’ve never been the finder.  Even one day when I was visiting a friend with a patch loaded with mutant clover, I couldn’t find any of the four-leaf variety.  A few feet down the sidewalk, I spotted another four-leaf.  I knew it must be a divine message to slow down and take more notice of things around me. And that’s when my epiphany hit.

You see, I’ve had this little blog on my mind a lot lately.  Even though I may not be very active with my posting, it still sucks a good chunk of my time thinking about posts and post preparations.  I’ve felt prompted to take a step back from my life online and spend more time with my family.  I love my little corner of the web, but I feel like God wants me to prioritize better and focus more on uplifting and building relationships with my family.  I may still pop in from time to time, but for now, I need to put my schoolhouse on the backburner.  I’ve loved getting to know many of you and interacting through your comments.  Thanks for joining me on my adventure.

April Blog Angel reveal

This past month I was a blog angel, spreading cheer through comments.  The blog I chose this time was Simply Smiling . . . Everyday!

I really like helping small bloggers through the Blog Angel program.  I know how much comments mean to me, so I like spreading the comment love to other blogs.  Here’s a few of my favorite posts you should go check out:
This adorable thumbprint frog tote
Fun rainbow cupcakes
Sunset inspiration

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If you’d like to be a Blog Angel, signups for the next round open May 15 for June.  Visit Craftbotic to get the details.  Rosie really wants to get more than 30 people involved for the next round.  It doesn’t have to be anything big or spectacular, just commenting on posts works.  It really doesn’t take much time and you just might find a new blog or two that you enjoy.  Maybe I’ll be your Blog Angel next.

April blog angel – the halfway point

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If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know that I love participating in the Blog Angel program.  Since Rosie adapted the program so you get to choose who you are an angel to each time, I have tried to reach out to blogs that I might not have discovered otherwise.  Sometimes I’ve used a blog that I’ve been paired with for an exchange of some sort, sometimes I just pick from the list of blogs that want to have an angel.  I really don’t have a set plan for choosing, I just go with one that feels right at the time.  I do like to choose smaller bloggers so my comments don’t just get lost in a sea of other commenters.  Plus I think it means more to support someone trying to get their blogging feet underneath them, so to speak.

This month I’ve been an angel to . . . wait, this is my halfway post.  I can’t spill the beans yet!  Just know that I am trying to secretly brighten the blogging life of ______________.  You’ll have to stop by at the end of the month to fill in the blank.

February Blog Angel reveal

Is it just me, or did February fly by?  It seems like just yesterday I was typing my half-way blog angel post and the day before that was when I started this last round of angelling.  Without further ado, it’s time for the big reveal of the blogger I’ve been supporting this past month . . .

I’ve been secretly helping Ang of Juggling Act Mama.
If you’re looking for yummy recipes, search no more.  Just this past month she shared recipes for Biscoff Buttercream, Sweet Potato Muffins that this sweet potato hater just might try, and Sinful Sweetheart Brownies.  She also has some awesome craft tutorials like these adorable suncatchers and pinwheels.
Won’t you stop by and check her out?

If you think you can contribute a couple comments a week or more, you should consider joining Blog Angels.  It really does make a difference even if you’re not a big name blogger.

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Sign-ups for the next round start March 15.

February blog angel – Halfway there

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Once again this month I have been engaged in the blog angel project that is the brain child of Rosie from Craftbotic.  I have to be honest, this round has been a little more difficult for me, just because life seems to get in the way.  Apologies up front to my blogger (to be revealed at the end of the month) for being a not-so-great angel.  My support so far has been a few comments and a few pins. 

One of the struggles I often feel with being a blog angel is feeling like I’m not doing enough.  I haven’t jumped on the social media train for my blog, so my only source of help is comments and pinning.  However, I think any little act of kindness makes a difference, so hopefully my angel feels the love from my meager efforts.

Ultimate Blog Angel Reveal

When I got the email from Rosie that it was time to link up our reveal posts for the Ultimate Blog Angel edition I couldn’t believe it.  Where did December go?  Ready or not, the big reveal day is here.  As a reminder, this edition was different from past editions because we got to choose our own blog to follow rather than being assigned.  So, who have I been “angelling” for the past month?

I chose Megan from Chaos Served Daily.  I first discovered her blog when I was partnered with her for an ornament exchange.  She created this beautiful hand-stamped ornament:

Like most of my blog angel experiences, I think I probably get more out of this than my angelee.  My support primarily lies in commenting and hopefully Megan felt that comment love this month.  Megan posts a variety of DIY ideas and projects.  Here are some of my favorite posts from the past month:

I’d love for you to stop by and show her some comment love!
If you want to participate in the next round of Blog Angels (for February), Rosie will be taking sign-ups on January 15.  Maybe I’ll be your angel next time.

December Blog Angel halfway post

Can you believe that December is half over?  Christmas is just around the corner.  Where did the month go?  Or 2012, for that matter?

If you’ve been visiting the schoolhouse for a while, you know that I’m a participant in the Blog Angels effort.

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This month had a different twist.  Instead of being assigned a blog to follow and help, we got to choose our own.  I hope I’ve been able to spread a little bit of Christmas cheer to my chosen blogger through my comments.  The blog I selected is new to me and not part of my daily read routine.  She doesn’t have the option of following via GFC, so I have to remember to visit on a regular basis.  So, for now I’ll just continue what I’m doing and see if I can come up with any fun ideas for the second half of the month.

December Blog Angel Sign-ups are OPEN!

It’s Blog Angel time again.  This round promises to be bigger and better than ever before.  If you’ve thought about taking part, sign up today!  Maybe I’ll be your angel.

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The Ultimate edition of Blog Angels is about to start and it promises to be bigger than ever. If you’re a veteran Angel then pay close attention as we’ve thrown the rule book for this round out of the window.
This time it is ALL about the giving. You will sign-up to help a blog of your choice, knowing there might not be any chance of receiving help. Most participants don’t do this to be helped so  I am excited what we can, as a community, do to spread the Christmas cheer.
So here are the December rules and the sign up form is right below.
1. Find a blog you want to help in secret – this could be new to you or an existing blogger in need of a boost. Try and give the URL of a reserve blog to help in case your first choice is in hot demand.
2. Fill in the form (on the blog from 10th November!)
3. Wait for an email before 30th November confirming you can help that person. I will make sure that everyone isn’t trying to assist the same person.
4. Help them with their blog in secret for one month, commiting to commenting a minimum of twice a week. See more advice on what else you can do here.
5. Link up a post summarising what help you have given throughout the first two weeks. (15th December)
6. Link up a reveal post on 30th December and contact your blog to let them know you’ve been their festive buddy for the month.

Blog Angels December Sign Up Form

If you fancy helping me out in promoting the sign-up, I’d be so grateful. If we had 250 people taking part….well…we’ll be a small way to changing the world…..maybe!
Christmas is my favourite time of the year. So what a better way to make my grin 8 feet wide than with helping out?

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Blog Angels – October

With the conclusion of October, that means the end of another round of Blog Angels.  This session was a little different in that we were secretly following and commenting on our Angel’s blog for the first half of the month, then had the reveal and continued helping our Angel for the second half of the month.  This go-round I was assigned to Heather from Keeping Up With the Giffords.

I feel like I’ve been a bit of a fail to her as her angel since she indicated she most wanted shout-outs.  I don’t use social media for my blog, so this wasn’t something I could really help with.  However, I did try to read and comment on her blog regularly.  I don’t know that it made a difference with the early reveal versus the previous method of doing the reveal post at the end.  My help was really the same both ways.  I’ve never really gotten feedback from Heather to know if my comments made a difference, so I’ll just assume they have and choose to remain oblivious if they haven’t.  Regardless, I plan to continue my following and commenting.

This time I think I got orphaned since my blog angel never posted with the reveal link-up.  So, that’s a bit disappointing, but I will still be participating in the next round for December.  This time Rosie has a fun twist in store:
“It will be a true test of selflessness in the spirit of enjoying ‘The Spirit of Giving’ without expecting to receive anything. This December, when you sign up, you will nominate the blog you will help. I will cross check to make sure that no-one helps the same person. The blog you choose won’t know that they are the subject of your help and therefore will have a lovely New Year’s surprise in your reveal post! You will be taking part expecting to receive no help. This won’t be a problem for my regulars who often forget they had a helper along the way too!”

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If this sounds like something you’d like to participate in, follow Rosie’s blog and sign up on November 15. 

October Blog Angel Reveal

Once again I’ve been participating in Blog Angels sponsored by Rosie of Craftbotic.

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I can’t believe how this month has flown by and it’s time to do the mid-month reveal post.  This month I’ve been stalking following Heather from Keeping Up with the Giffords.

I haven’t been able to do much, but comment on some of her posts.  I’m impressed that she has time to blog at all with her teaching, moving and now a computer crash.  I look forward to getting to know her better.  Swing on over and give her some love. 🙂

Time for another round of Blog Angels

 If you’ve been around the schoolhouse for a bit, you probably remember my posts about being a Blog Angel.  If you think this might be a program you’d like to take part in, it’s your lucky day.  Sign ups for the next round are opening tomorrow.  Here’s more information from organizer, Rosie:

You might have heard the name ‘Blog Angels’ popping up all over your social media over the last few months and wondered, what ARE they going on about?

Blog Angels is run by Rosie at Craftbotic. Every two months 100 bloggers get the opportunity to help each other out, build friendships and community in the Blogosphere.
The principle is easy. By signing up to be a Blog Angel you are promising to help another blogger for a whole month.  The least you need to do is comment twice a week on their blog, but the possibilities to do more is endless.
In the first two rounds of Blog Angels we had people commenting, guest-posting, giving social media shout outs, new blog design features and warm words of encouragement. Some people swapped addresses and sent little packages. The choices are endless.
So what’s the catch? Well, it’s all done in secret. For this round, things are changing slightly. Here are all of the details:
1. Sign up is on 15th September. The form you fill in can be found at Rosie’s, but also on these sites:
 2. The form is slightly more detailed to help with the matching process. It still takes less than 5 minutes to complete though.
3. The project will start on 1st October and will be secret for the first two weeks. This will allow you to get to know your blogger, build up a relationship and start to act to help them. You would need to, as a minimum, comment twice a week on their blog.
4. After two weeks you link up a ‘reveal’ post at Craftbotic on 15th October.
5. You can then communicate with your blogger and give them more specific help, build friendships and develop your role. This is the newest part of the project and came out of a long conversation with the angel regulars.
6. On the 31st October you write a ‘reflection’ post reviewing your experience of Blog Angels and what you achieved with your Blog Angel.
It’s pretty simple. These small steps will help you to be part of growing community of bloggers who care.
On a serious note, there is always a ‘drop off’ of Blog Angels. Those folk who get busy and disappear. Apart from being incredibly uncool, it is completely unnecessary. Please make sure you have time to help out in October BEFORE signing up. If life gets crazy you just need to email and let Rosie know. Orphaned bloggers can then be reassigned.  In Blog Angels the only thing you are guaranteed is the opportunity to help some-one else.
What an amazing opportunity that is! The first 100 people to sign-up before 25th September will be taking part. We all hope that it will include you!

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I suppose that counts as my first-ever guest poster here at the schoolhouse.  I had a great time in August with the Blog Angel program and I’m looking forward to finding out who I get to stalk support in October.  Won’t you come join in the fun?

Am I making a difference?

I’ve always thrived on the approval of others.  Getting a simple “Congratulations” or a “Job well done” made me try harder and put forth more effort. It’s not in an attempt to be showy and make sure everyone knows what I’ve done, I just get motivated when my efforts are noticed.
Several months ago I read a message to the ladies in my church encouraging them to be aware of the influence they have to bring about good and encourage and support others.  This got me thinking about the various groups and organizations that I associate with and my role within those groups.

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 I’m a member of our elementary school PTA.  I have been for as long as I’ve had children in the school.  By now, I know most of the teachers and staff by sight and vice versa.  It’s easy to feel appreciated when the staff is vocal in their appreciation and the students enjoy the planned activities.  The same idea goes for Cub Scout leadership.  I can see that I’m making a difference.
I was recently asked to serve on a parent advisory committee for our school district.  A few days later when I was at the middle school, I was approached by the principal and thanked for accepting this position.  Until that moment, I wouldn’t have even thought that the principal knew who I was, let alone recognized me.  Obviously something I’ve done has been noticed and appreciated.

Outside of my family, the area where most people would probably say I have the most influence is as the leader of the children’s organization within my church.  This is also where I felt the least appreciated and felt like my efforts were going unnoticed. I was ready to give up since my efforts didn’t matter anyway.  Then, it happened:  one of the mothers saw me in the hall and expressed her appreciation for all that I did.  The next week another mother did the same, then I got a thank you email from a different mother.  These ladies probably never realized what a difference their words made to me.  It was just a simple thing, but it changed my perspective.

As I’ve reflected on blogging, I’ve wondered if I’m making a difference.  Life has taught me that my efforts do have an influence, even though I may not realize it.
What can you do to make a difference today?

I’m a Blog Angel

A few months ago I saw several of the blogs I follow post about their experiences as a blog angel.  I was intrigued with the idea, and checked out the host blogs (Craftbotic and Dreamy Meadow) for details.  I was bummed that the sign-ups were closed.  So, I was ecstatic when I saw that they were making this a regular event and I decided to join in the fun for August. The premise is fairly simple: find ways to support your assigned blogger over the course of the month, but stay anonymous through the process.

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I can’t reveal who I’ve been helping yet, but I can say that it has been a great experience to get to know a new blogger and offer her support.  At first I was a little nervous since I thought it would be obvious that I’m the Blog Angel when I just show up at the beginning of August and start commenting on posts.  However, I’m finding that there are other commenters that say they just found the blog, so I think my secret identity is safe.  All in all, it hasn’t been very difficult and really doesn’t add much time to my daily blog reading habit.  I feel like I am helping my blogger to feel supported and encouraged. And, I’ve made a new blog friend.  I’m hoping to find other ways to support her through the remaining half of the month, but that might give away my identity, so I’ll save those details for the wrap-up post in a couple weeks.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, keep your eyes open for the next round of sign-ups starting September 15.  Make a difference to another blogger for the month of October.

Stuck in a rut

Every day when I check my emails and check on my blog, I think that I really need to put up another post.  Then I tell myself I’ll do it as soon as I come up with a good idea.  It’s in the back of my mind until I wake up the next morning and repeat . . .

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I’ve seen a lot of ideas floating around blogland lately about being a “real” blogger.  I knew when I started this venture that I probably wouldn’t become one of the huge bloggers that everyone has heard of.  I knew I probably wouldn’t post every day.  Some weeks I’m lucky to get a single post in.  I did (and still do) have visions of being successful, although the elusive definition of success isn’t very clear to me.  I could define it by the numbers: followers, page views, comments, sponsors, etc.  In that case, I’m no where near “successful.”  If I look at it as being happy with what I post to the world, I’m pretty well on-track.
I’m creeping up on my 1-year blogiversary at the end of this week.  With my tiny little following, I’m not in a position to throw a huge party with lots of sponsored giveaways.  I probably won’t even recognize it as a special day. I still consider myself a newbie blogger trying to get my feet wet.  I have to remind myself that I started blogging for myself to have a creative outlet, not to become famous.  I’ve made some great bloggy friends along the way and found some great inspirations in many of my favorite blogs.
However, since the “blogging ideas” section of my brain is still empty, I’m throwing myself out to the world.  Do you have any questions you’d like to have me answer?  Anything you’d like to know about me?  Any post suggestions?  Leave me a comment and maybe I can come up with a post for next week. 🙂

Changes

I recently came across a blog critique swap sponsored by the gals at Truly Lovely.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some feedback on my blog with what works and what could be changed.  Basically, the way it worked was that each participant critiqued two blogs.  So, I looked at two new blogs and two different people looked at mine.  Special thanks to Alyx and Stephany for reviewing my blog.

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Both critiques had some helpful tips that I’ll be utilizing in the coming days.  To be honest, my blog has kind of been thrown together and I just add whatever, whenever I feel like it.  I do have the overall school theme, but this does lead people to think I homeschool (I don’t).  So, I’m trying to come up with a new header that incorporates the “everything under one roof” idea that I have envisioned for my blog and the one-room school concept.

Both bloggers suggested adding “About Me” and “Contact Me” pages, so I’m working on that and should have them up in the near future.  (Any tutorial suggestions for creating tabs?)  I had never thought about things like watermarking my photos, but it makes sense, so I’ll be trying that out, too.  (Again, tutorials?)  Another comment suggested using a less cutesy font for my posts.  Again, something that didn’t bother me, but I don’t want to turn other people away from my blog.

One aspect of this process that surprised me was that not every blogger out there has ads.  I know, it’s probably a silly observation, but it was kind of a lightbulb moment for me.  I’ve tried to pattern my blog after some of my favorite bigger name blogs.  They all have ads, so I’ve put buttons on my sidebar.  I figured that was just what you did as a blogger.  However, I liked the less cluttered look of the blogs I critiqued, so I’m considering moving my “favorite inspirations” buttons to a separate page.

What do you do to get feedback on your blog?  Any additional suggestions for me?