Category Archives: Blogging and Writing

Look at the Cute Dog Sunbathing:

Five Things WordPress Taught Me with the Zero to Hero Project

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The Zero to Hero project officially ended a couple of weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to my own official wrap up.

P.S. Scroll to the bottom for the 5 things if you don’t have time for a little reading. And if you don’t actually make it that far, it’s a good project, and I really did learn a lot.

OK, let’s just make this unofficial because I’m not going to go back and figure out how many followers I added. No, wait, I just checked. I have 29 followers now, and I probably didn’t have any (or maybe just 1 or 2) before the beginning of January. So, welcome!

My most responded to post was one that was actually like, you know, a post, and not just yakking on about zero to hero. That was this one, that was in response to the Daily Prompt. It generated a ton (for me) of pingbacks and even some comments. Who doesn’t love comments?! OK, honestly, I don’t really understand pingbacks. Well, I do in theory, but like a lot of the internet in general, and blogging specifically, it’s just magic.

I’ve been blogging for a few years now, just not on WordPress, so some of the stuff I already knew… like commenting on other blogs and following them helps get you noticed. I’ll try to do more of that because, as I already noted, who doesn’t love comments!

Some of the stuff confused me, and may always confuse me, but I’ll give it a go. Like this formatting thing. Even today, the Daily Post is telling us to add variety with these post formats. I’m sure I’ll discover that perhaps even I can figure out this format magic. And pingbacks. Don’t know why they are so confusing, but they seem to make one popular, so I’m all for that.

But enough of all that. What about those 5 Things?

  1. Add more pages and widgets. And Format! Format!
  2. Comment and Follow. Comment and Follow.
  3. Participate. Try Blogging Events.
  4. And do more Daily Prompts. People like those.
  5. Post cute dog pictures.

OK, not sure that WordPress taught me that last one, but didn’t you click on this post because you saw a cute dog?

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Sharing the Interwebs

I’m still carrying on with the Zero to Hero Challenge, but I have to confess that mostly the participation is in my own mind, and has not resulted in any actual typing/blogging/etc. I will continue to blame my FT retail job that is sucking the life out of me.

I love the idea of participating in more blog challenges. I think that was yesterday’s “task”. I’ve done it before with my other blog, mostly doing “sew alongs” or other sewing related challenges. I’ll probably do it again, but I want it to happen organically because I find a great one, and not have it feel forced. So WordPress smarties, I’m not theoretically “skipping” yesterday’s challenge. It’s just not going to happen this month.

But the idea of an “easy” post (oooh, I’m using lots of quotation marks tonight) does make me happy. I mean, who doesn’t want to ride the wave of popularity when they have, um, a double digit number of followers. (Each of whom I am thrilled to have!) So. Three paragraphs in, I’ve got some peeps to share with you. I bet you even know some of them, but if you don’t, you should. Here we go.

First, I love Kristen, who writes K-Line. I’ve been reading her blog for a long time, so I can’t just single out one post, but she sews, knits, and is scared of spiders, but not scared of speaking her mind and sharing her issues. And soon… really… soon… I’m going to knit some socks.

Do you know about the Official Blog for Mental Health Project? Again, I’m not singling out a particular post, but the whole blog. Mental health is everyone’s concern, because aren’t we all on the continuum between mental illness and mental healthiness? While I’m screwing up the courage to take the pledge, everyone should check out this blog.

Well, as long as I’m on kind of a serious track, let me introduce you to my husband’s blog, Employment Testing: Failing to Make the Grade. He’s pretty serious about his topic, Pre-Employment Testing, and has dedicated his blog (hell, his life) to this subject. For the record, in case any of you are HR peeps that think the testing is a great idea, well, he doesn’t.

OK, once you get through all the seriousness, you all surely must know about the Bloggess? If you don’t, you seriously need to meet her. Seriously!

Well, This Could Be Awkward

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So, I read today’s Zero to Hero Challenge, and it sends the challengees to a new link and suggests we participate in the Daily Prompt. Okaaaayyy. Do I have a reputation? Hmmm. But first there’s a post I HAVE to post today, and it’s about my dad. Maybe these things are connected. I mean, I was a “daddy’s girl” and all, and yeah, years of therapy have taught me that many of the things that I’m about, my “reputation” as it were, have to do with things that happened in my childhood.

I thought that it would be hard to start writing this post. I wanted to set the right tone, without being shocking, maudlin, or look like I needed sympathy or condolences. But the reason I have to write this particular post is that today is the 23rd anniversary of my father’s suicide. Did you see the sentence above about years of therapy? For me, I mean. My dad was an alcoholic and we (my immediate family and others) are pretty much in agreement that he had bipolar disorder (undiagnosed). It was almost half a lifetime ago, and I’ve come to terms with it. So today, I wanted to focus just a little bit on something else that made my dad my dad. Gave him his reputation.

Dad was an artist (writer, painter, photographer, among other things) and he LOVED anything to do with aviation. LOVED. That was his reputation. He always had something he was creating. Always taking pictures, writing, and painting. Usually not all at the same time, but who knows what was going on in that always scheming and plotting mind of his. He had lots of projects. Mostly in the garage.

It was in our garage where he  developed one style of artwork that was so identifiable, that when Roland (see new widget with my “cast of characters” in the sidebar) saw my latest painting, he knew the reference immediately.

Mine painting is much smaller, because my dad did everything big. He would paint a large canvas or board all black. Then take the time-honored artist technique of flicking paint with a toothbrush, and create stars. His piece de resistance was the planets. He would raid our kitchen “stealing” round items, usually pie plates, much to my mom’s dismay. I’m pretty sure he used oil paint and he would squish blobs of paint from the tubes, randomly on the bottom of said pie plate. Then he would flip the plate over, and press the pie plate to the canvas, slowly spinning it to create his planet.

He spent hours perfecting the technique of planet creation, and I confess that my planets were created more timidly. Ultimately, I just painted the circles. Sorry, Dad. The airplanes on my painting were originally drawn by my dad when he was in high school. I found the drawings in an envelope with some old photos, scanned them, and inverted the colors. The photo of the little boy in the plane is actually my dad, taken in the late 1930s. You can see his love of aviation started very young. So the painting above is a collaboration of sorts.

Today’s post is not about me, but my dad, and his reputation for a love of all things aviation and creative. Boy, I can only imagine what he would have done with a digital camera…

Happy flying, Dad.

Just Relax, Dammit

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I had a facial AND a massage today. Whew! What a day of pampering. The weird thing is that just knowing I was going to take time to do something that is supposed to be relaxing made me stressed out. I’m just tightly wound, and it is so hard for me to let go.

That should be my goal for this year… just let go.

Today’s Zero to Hero challenge (and actually, the past few challenges, which I have, ahem, skipped) stressed me out. It’s like when someone tells you what you know is good advice, and, for whatever reason, you just don’t want to take that advice. Let’s just say that, Zero to Hero challenge writers, yep, if I want more people to read my blog and comment, I should read more blogs and comment on them. And I’ve done that with my other blog, so I know it works.

Here’s the deal though. I need to relax. I have a job that I don’t like that is sucking the soul out of me, so I need to concentrate on finding another one. This blog is an outlet for me, and one that I haven’t shared with people I know. *gasp*…..    I know. Those should be the first people that follow, and then they spread the word because they love me.

Yeah, I’m going to do it without them. At least for now. And I know I’m not going to be “Hero” in 30 days, but I’m going to have the blog I want this time. Don’t worry z-to-h challenge peeps, I’m on board, and I’ll comment, etc. because I like to do that, but I have a lot on my plate mentally, virtually and in reality (do those things all go together?).

Oh, and the pic above… taken by me during our last summer trip to Amelia Island, Florida. A place where I really could let go and relax.

Trying a New Header

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Not a super exciting title, but just a quick post for the zero-to-hero challenge.  Today’s challenge is to try different headers. My original header was a photo I had taken on a trip to Douglas Lake in Tennessee a few years ago.

After struggling with the resizing (and not 100% pleased now), the new header is a snippet of one of my original mixed media paintings. It’s late here (for me), and I just need to re-edit and move the text down a little. Of course, there are helpful links in the Daily Post linked above which I totally ignored.

Anyway, the painting is a current favorite. Sometimes simple is best.

Best Cookies Ever

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BEST COOKIES EVER

I’ve missed a couple of days on the Zero to Hero challenge, but it’s ok. Day 2 was the about me thing, and “check” done that already. Even have a page. Day 3, um, I don’t really remember day 3 (yep, I know it was only yesterday), but my retail full-time job is hell on Saturdays, and I just let that one go.

Today is my birthday!! Woohoo! So, other than my 4 hours required presence at said full-time retail job, I’m doing (mostly) just what I want to do. I had already decided to post about the best cookies ever, and it totally ties in with the day 4 challenge… finding new topics, blogs to follow.

First the cookies. Yeah, have dessert first. I’m not going to post the recipes because this is NOT a food blog. I’ll helpfully post the link though. I’m not cruel. Really, I hate cooking, but occasionally the spirit moves me and I want to make food. Christmas is one of those times, and I decided, crazily perhaps, to make sweet gifts for a few of my co-workers.

Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies. Need I say more. Well, duh, of course, I’m going to say more. They are super easy to make because you use a cake mix, the peppermint crunchie things are pre-crushed goodies you find next to the chocolate chips, and there are oreos. Oreos. Cookies within cookies. What a great idea! And they are soft, minty and chocolate-y all in one. So delicious. Mine aren’t as pretty as the ones in the original blog, but those cookies in the picture above are the ones I made.

And now, the task for day 4. Follow 5 new topics in your reader. I follow a ton of sewing blogs through feedly, but I’m going to give the wordpress reader a go, and yep, want to find some non-sewing blogs as I pretty much have that topic covered.

Drumroll (blogroll?) please. My 5 new blogs I’m getting to know are:

 

It’s Me, Ellen Maybe

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The first thing you need to know about me is that I love lists, and that is why this zero to hero blogging challenge appealed to me. Plus, the challenge. So, with that out of the way, let me confess that I am not a new blogger. This is probably my 4th or 5th blog, and one of 2 that are actively active. My other current blog is over there on Blogger, and if you like to sew, check it out: It’s A Sewing Life.

The problem with that one currently, is that a little over a year ago my life became less sewing and more full-time working, and for me, the blog became more of a show and tell, than an interaction with fellow sewists. In 3 words, way less satisfying. Plus, it was also a way to promote my Etsy shop, where I sold vintage sewing patterns. I still do that. Sell the patterns, that is. But with way less attention to the shop. In other words, if I sell a pattern, “yay”, but it’s no longer an obsession. See, I’m not even providing a link to it. Not directly anyway.

That brings us to why Ellen Maybe? This is a great time to let y’all know how I got the name for this blog. Oh, yeah, and I’m from the southern U.S. Born in Dallas, Texas and now living in Atlanta, Georgia by way of a few other places.

may·be
 mābē/
adverb
  1. 1.
    perhaps; possibly.
    “maybe I won’t go back”
    synonyms: perhapspossiblyconceivably, it could be (that), it is possible (that),for all one knows; More

noun
  1. 1.
    a mere possibility or probability.
    “no ifs, buts, or maybes”

On Sunday, I’ll be 54, and I don’t like uncertainty. Nope. I want to know what is happening and when. My family calls that being a control freak. I say, No, I just want to be able to plan ahead. But I have always had a lack of self identity. What I like is someone to tell me what is going to happen and when. Frankly, it’s high time that stopped. This blog is going to be that journey of finding who I am, so this “first” challenge post is really only scratching the surface. We’ll work out the other details on the way, m’k?

Oh, and the first 3 letters of my maiden name are M A Y, and the first 2 letters of my married name are B E.

P.S. That’s my family in the photo. Just one camera-shy dog missing.

Happy New Year!

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Wow! Another new year, another new start. Isn’t that usually the plan? A time to reset. This blog is still in its infancy, and what a perfect time to participate in WordPress’ Zero to Hero Challenge. I love me a good challenge, so I’m jumping on board. Today’s the day to update the theme, get the title in order, decide on the look.

If you’ve bumped into this blog more than once, you might have noticed that I am now on my 3rd or 4th theme. I just can’t commit. Hatch had a weird double picture thing happening in my posts. Then I chose AutoFocus, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the widgets on the home page. If you even could. Finally, I went with Spirit because it looked easy and it was Christmas-y. Was there one I tried before Spirit? I can’t remember. That’s a lot for a blog that just started at the end of November.

I’ve settled (for now) on 2014. Appropriate really. And I added a tagline.  I drew the 2014 doodle, too. Can’t have a post without art, can we? Not if it’s supposed to be a blog about art, right?