Evolution of a Blogger

Today I am so lucky to be sharing my thoughts, opinions, hopes, dreams, and all that over at the Girls Lunch Out site. About what you ask?

Well, this fun little picture is what it’s all about, Evolution of a Blogger.


Comments are off so please stop over at GLO and let me know what you think!

About the Illustrator
Steph Calvert is the work at home mom and illustrator behind Hearts and Laserbeams. Her work has been seen worldwide on apparel, in print, and online. She’s been writing the Hearts and Laserbeams blog for over 10 years, and is a current blog contributor to Moonfrye.com.

Steph lives in Savannah, Georgia with her hilarious partners in crime, husband Josh, son Phil, and mom in law Carole. She enjoys coloring with her son, karaoke, and a good glass of wine every now and then. (But preferably now, thanks.)

Click here to purchase this original illustration on Etsy.

Old School Blogging ~ March Edition

So I opened up Twitter yesterday afternoon and saw that I was tagged by Theta Mom and of course I followed the link to see what it was all about.

Old School Blogging! Yup… getting back to some fun basics. Stuff that we all used to do when we first started this blogging thing many years ago. Fun stuff like silly memes where we’d answer all sorts of questions about ourselves and then tag a bunch of other people in them and bounce around from blog to blog to see what their answers were.

Well, Heather from Theta Mom and Elaine from The Miss Elaine-ous Life are bringing some fun back to blogging old school style and I am so very happy to say that I was one of the first people tagged! Pretty cool, right? They plan on having a monthly meme complete with a linky so we can all share a little bit of bloggy love.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #OSBlog on Twitter!

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

Let’s see… 10 years ago was 2003. At that time I was the mom to 3 girls (8, 4, 1), working in retail, and never heard of blogging.

girls & I

This is the oldest pic that I could find of the girls & I that was halfway decent.

2. What 5 things are on your to-do list?

  • Pack for Florida
  • Clean the house
  • Figure out how to entertain a 3 yr old on an airplane
  • Find a good blog designer who won’t charge me an arm & a leg
  • Lose 10 more pounds

3. What are 5 snacks you enjoy?

Hmm… healthy or not healthy?

  • Cookies – preferably homemade chocolate chip
  • Cucumbers with garlic salt & pepper
  • Triscuits
  • Hummus
  • Brownies

4. Name some things you would do if you were a millionaire:

This one is easy!

  • Pay off my school loans and consider going back again
  • Set some aside for my kids college education
  • Buy a new house
  • Take a vacation

5. Name some places you have lived:

I have never left the great state of Michigan!

I’ve moved around the state a lot though. I was born in the metro Detroit area and lived in Taylor until I was 2 or 3, from there my parents built a house North Branch, and then once they got divorced the moving began. Holly, Fenton, Grand Blanc, Swartz Creek…. I finally gave up the moving thing and went to live with my dad in Lapeer and I stayed there until I was 19 or 20. After that I decided that Traverse City was a good place to live and I was there from 20 until 24. After that I moved one more time and I’ve been here ever since.

6. Name some bad habits you have:

I have a lot of bad habits! Geesh…

The one that I’ve had the most difficult time kicking is my love of Diet Coke… or Diet Dr. Pepper.

7. Name some jobs you have had:

Waitress, Jewelry sales clerk, Restaurant manager, Cake decorator, Baker, Bakery/Deli manager at Meijer, Systems Monitor, Tech support, UX designer, and Product Owner (similar to project manager).

8. Name those you are tagging for #OSBlog:

Jill, Jessica, Jen, Gigi, and Lauren.




My first #BlogBoycottDay!

I have to tell you all that I am really excited to be co-hosting with the incredible Liz from A Belle, a Bean, & a Chicago Dog for #BlogBoycottDay!

During the last #BlogBoycottDay Liz said that she was ready to give it up and asked if anyone was interested in taking it over! I quickly raised my hand and here I am!


So what is #BlogBoycottDay you ask? Well, it’s a day dedicated to social media! Spend your day Tweeting and engaging with your community instead of writing posts for your blog or reading and commenting on others. Reach out to all those people who you haven’t spoken with in a while or that one person you’ve always wanted to talk to.

#BlogBoycottDay is the 2nd Friday every month and all you have to do is link up!

In order to find others who are taking part in the boycott, include your Twitter handle in the Linky below.  Also, grab the code for the button from my sidebar over there on the right —>

Eating bon-bons & ending reality tv

10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.

What a prompt! I mean seriously… I could come up with a whole lot more than 10!

I’ve been thinking about the list a little and this it assumes that I don’t have to work which would mean that we are financially well off. Right? Well the options are endless then aren’t they?

I’ll try to keep things down to earth though, alright? Good, now lets get this list started.

1. I’d lay on my couch eating bon-bons watching old soap operas like Another World, Days of our Lives, and General Hospital. Why? Well first of all I’ve never done it before (the laying around eating bon-bons part that is) and I like the old soaps because I actually know who some of the characters are and they aren’t all 20 yrs old (or younger based on what they look like now).

2. I’d go back to college. I would start taking random classes that sounded interesting to me. I loved the lectures and things like that when I was in school, hearing what the professors had to say, and sharing their life experiences was interesting to me. Besides it’s amazing how many great classes schools offer now! I would just go to be one of those life long learners not going for any specific degree or for a real purpose.

3. Travel…. you had to know that this one was coming! I would travel, but not the entire world because not everything out there interests me. So I’d carefully plan trips around the US, to Ireland, Scotland, Italy, France, and a few other places. The trips wouldn’t be solely focused on large cities either. I’d make sure that I spent a lot of time driving around the countryside checking out all the old castles, ruins, and other historical areas (I love history). Some of these trips would be with the kids and of course others would be without them.

4. I’d get more into this blogging thing that I’ve been dabbling in for a while. I hear that you can really make a go of it if you put a lot of time and energy into it. It makes sense that if I’m not working, the kids are in school, and the husband is at work that I’d have a lot of free time to do this type of thing, right?

5. Have a tea party. Yes. A real tea party in the afternoon with lots of tasty treats, tea, and mimosas. I’d invite all of my friends (the online ones as well as the in life ones) to join me at some fancy location where we’d chat, enjoy our lunch and dessert, and spend the afternoon together. And yes, they would all come because in my world they wouldn’t have to work either.

6. Take over the world. It’s not likely to happen but if Pinky & the Brain can try it every night I figure that I can give it a whirl too.

7. This one is a little more “normal”. If I didn’t have to work I’d just be a stay at home mom. I’d stay with my kids every day, take them to school, play dates, story time at the library, and lunch in the park. I’d volunteer in their classrooms and go on all the field trips, I’d be a band parent (more than I am now) and be on the PTO. I wouldn’t feel guilty anymore when I hear that my son had a major meltdown at the sitters because he was there longer than he normally is. Mommy guilt will be a thing of the past.

8. Redecorate my house one room at a time until it looked like it came from a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Oh, I’d do the same thing with my yard…. that would take the longest because it is one hell of a hot mess right now!

9. I have 4 kids and only one of them has their baby book in any sort of order. I think that given the right amount of time and willpower I could actually get the other ones started and looking half way decent!

10. Find a way to end all reality TV shows. Why you ask? Well, because they suck. Every single one of them. I live in reality and those shows are so far from real! I like to watch TV to get away from it all… escape…. and reality TV just annoys me. And I know that I can’t be the only one that feels that way. So, I will put them to an end.

Oh… one last thing. I have this pretty nice DSLR camera… I’d learn to use that thing so I could take awesome pictures of my kids and everything around me.

See… I told you there was more than 10 things!

What about you? What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

Mama’s Losin’ It

A New Beginning

Last weekend I went to Bloogy Bootcamp in Chicago and it was one of the best experiences that I’ve had this year when it comes to blogging and social media. I’m still trying to process everything I’ve learned, follow up with all the wonderful people I had met, and narrow down the three things I’m going to focus on.

There are few things that Tiffany said between speakers that has really been sticking with me this past week.

  • Only pick 3 things to work on after the conference.
  • You’ll do really well on those 3 things.
  • Where you put your attention you get results.

So why is it that those things are sticking with me? Well, it’s because I have this issue with wanting to help here or there, joining various causes, and when it comes down to it spreading my self way to thin. I end up overwhelmed and not able to give things the attention that they deserve and then I end up letting myself and others down. This isn’t fair to anyone involved.

I want to be able to make an impact and inspire people through my blog. I want it to be well known and like throughout the blogosphere. There are so many things that I want, but without focus and starting here at home I won’t be able to reach any of those things.

I’ve cleared my plate.

From now on my focus needs to be on this blog, my social media presence, and the goals that I want to obtain in the next few months. That alone is a lot of work considering that I work full time, have four children, and a husband who owns his own business and is always busy.

For now I have some ideas of where I want to start and what I need to do.

Tomorrow starts a new beginning.


Blog Boycott Friday ~ traveling edition


So, today is Blog Boycott Day which is hosted by the amazing Liz from A Belle, A Bean, & a Chicago Dog and all day we avoid blogs and just Tweet.

I’m tired… I spent a lot of time responding to all the great comments that were left yesterday for my SITS day (#WOOHOO) that I just don’t have it in me to write a real post.

Alright… that’s sort of a lie. I am tired, but since I’m going to be packing & traveling today for a weekend away with the family I figured that spending some quality time with all of you on Twitter talking the day away would be much better!

Good idea right?

See ya on Twitter!!

What I wish I knew

It’s Friday and I’m linking up again for the #SummerBlogSocial!

I read over the prompts again and again, undecided which one to pick. And finally a few thoughts came to me and I knew which I wanted to do.

** If a real life friend approached you and said, “I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?“, what 10 (or more) things would you tell your friend? **

Yes, I know that almost everyone has done that one but hoping mine will have a bit of information that someone will find useful. Of course now that I think about it some of my thoughts pertain to this prompt as well.

** Finish the phrase, “Before I began blogging, I wish I had known…“. Feel free to substitute “blogging” with “joined Twitter” or whatever other social media phrase is appropriate. **

So when I started blogging there is a lot that I wish I knew and these are things that I would pass on to anyone who told me that they were interested in starting a blog of their own.

So lets get this list started!

1. If you don’t have any knowledge of HTML or CSS then read! There are a lot of great resources out there for you to learn and a good one that I’ve used when in college is the W3 Schools Online Tutorials. Making buttons, header images, and adding widgets to you blog can all require some knowledge of basic web development skills. So read up!

2. Find your color palette. By this I mean figure out the main color that you want to use in your blog and then use a color palette finder like Big Huge Labs.  With a tool like this you can be sure that all the colors that you use coordinate really well.

3.  Pay attention to the layout & design of you blog because if it’s to busy or have contrasting colors/patterns you will start to turn your readers away. Do a little research on layout, design, and some basic usability practices. This is a great article by Jakob Nielsen, a leader in the usability field.

4. Plan. Planning is important and knowing what you want to write about and what your want your blog to be about. Otherwise you can end up aimless and won’t have the direction you need to help you grow your blog the way you want it.

5. Don’t expect miracles. It takes time and hard work to get lots of followers and comments. This is something that I’ve struggled with and was worried about on and off time and again… because I was never sure if I did something wrong or said something to offend people. What I learned is that it’s not always me or what I write and that I just have to put forth a bit more effort.

6. This one naturally follows the previous one. Content is really important. You need to post on a regular schedule and what you write needs to be good. A good subject that is well thought out and well written will get noticed. This is an area that I feel that I’m lacking in and have really made it priority to work on it.

7. Now this one is really important. Be honest. Be true to yourself. And most of all do not steal other peoples content! This will get you shunned and pretty much kicked out of the blogging world faster than you can blink.

8. Find a community that you like and fits what your blog is about. There are so many great ones out there than are really supportive of bloggers that picking one will actually be the most difficult part! I know that at first I joined all sorts of them left and right and tried to keep up and take part in all of them. I quickly found out that it was nearly impossible to do that so I sorted out the ones that helped & the ones that didn’t and today I’m part of the SITS Girls, Blog Frog, and a couple others.

9. Have fun!! Blogging and social media is a ton of fun even with all of the work that’s involved with it. Take the time to enjoy it, make friends, and if you need to take a break once in a while. It’ll all still be there when you come back and you’ll be welcomed with open arms again.

10. Ask for help if you need it. Chances are there will be someone out there that knows the answer or can help you solve your problem. There are countless number of times that I’ve asked for help, offered to help others, and been asked to help. It’s great knowing that you’ve solved someone’s issue and that they’ll return the favor in the future.

So there you have it. What do you think?


Social Media as a Career

Goals. We all have them, right?

Well today we’re going to discuss my blogging goals for the Summer Blog Social that is being hosted by Liz from a belle, a bean, and a chicago dog and Jessica from Four Plus an Angel.

So there’s a specific prompt….

What are your overriding goals for your blog and social media presence? How have those goals evolved over time?

I can most certainly tell you that when I started out just over a year ago I had no goals. None. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and just hoping for the best. And I learned a great deal! Wow… I seriously couldn’t believe how much there was to this blogging thing. Numbers, stats, commenting, Google Analytics, mingling, joining groups, reviews, giveaways… the list seemed endless of all the things that you could take into account where blogging is concerned so many directions that you could go with it all. But now that I look back what it comes down to is what you really want to do with your blog, where you want to take it, and most importantly having fun with what you decide to do.

Alright, my goals.

So I love this blogging & social media thing. Being able to meet new people and interact with them on a daily basis is great. I’ve met so many people and it amazes me everyday how helping and generous they all are with their time and knowledge. Not that long ago I decided that social media is something that I would love to be able to do all the time and some day I want to be doing this for a living. Blogging & social media as my official career is my goal.

Is it a lofty goal? Maybe, but I think that it is one that is definitely obtainable. I just need to get pointed in the right direction and with help I believe that I can make it happen.

The first couple things that I am doing to get closer to that is increase my content ensuring that it’s good content too. Next on the list is getting more organized when it comes to blogging and my posting schedule. Easy peasy! I’ve been doing it for almost a week now! Yay me!

So there you have friends, my goal. Just one to make it easy on myself.

What do you think? Any suggestions on where or how to start?

Comments. Are they important?

I was thinking about writing a post for Pour Your Heart Out since last week… Friday to be exact and some how it snuck up on me and I’m a bit behind the game since the linky went live Wednesday morning. If I’m lucky I’ll be like the 100th person to link up.

I may ramble a bit through this so I apologize in advance if I do.

So I have a blog (duh…) and I write and write…. And sometimes I ignore my blog for a couple of days here and there because life has a tendency to step in and take hold of my time.

Often I try to make an effort to write a really good post and other times I get busy and try to get something out quickly that isn’t of the highest quality. But when I write something that I think is pretty good I tend to hope for comments & constructive criticism and nothing happens.

Nothing. Meaning that half the day goes by before there is one comment.

It’s disheartening. It makes me wonder if I did something wrong, if I wrote something that offended people, or if what I wrote wasn’t comment worthy.

And honestly, I don’t know what it is.

There are times that I just let it go and not worry about it because really I need to write for me and not for comments or anyone else. Right?

Then there are other times where it does bother me.

The most important thing I need to remember is that comments aren’t everything, numbers aren’t that important, comments aren’t that important, and I need to remember what is. My writing. The words that I write are what are important.

I like what I do and I like writing. And I’m going to keep on doing it with or without comments. I just need to come to an understanding that not everything is comment worthy even though people read it.

Gleek Retreat ~ Counting the Days!

I have to tell you that I am sooo.. excited! Why you ask, well because this weekend, 5 days away, I’ll be joining a bunch of great people in Holland for Gleek Retreat!

Gleek Retreat is a blogging conference that is held right here in Michigan every year and was created by bloggers for bloggers. The conference is held over the weekend and that is one of the best parts about it… I’m able to go and not miss work or to much at home.

This will be my first ever conference and as I talked about before there’s a lot that goes into deciding whether or not to go to a conference. This one is a mere 2 hours from my home and looks like it’s going to be filled with a ton of useful information and even more fun.

Maybe your thinking to yourself… that’s not all that exciting… but I’m here to tell you that it really is and I’ll share the reasons why.

  • I haven’t been away without my kids or husband EVER
  • I haven’t done anything with friends in so long I may have forgotten how to act (I apologize for this in advance ladies)
  • I can use all the help I can get when it comes to writing and blogging
  • I get to go on a dinner cruise
  • I get to eat my dinner uninterrupted (YAY!!)
  • I get to use the bathroom alone
  • Holland is a great city with a lot to see and do. (Shopping anyone?)
  • I need a “girls” night out (I apologize to any men who may attend)

It goes without being said that I will miss my family and that they’ll probably miss me even more. I say that because they’ve never had a weekend where dad is the one doing everything so it may (or may not) be a challenge for them all. It will most definitely be a learning experience for them though….hey… I just had a thought…. maybe they’ll see how much I do for them and totally appreciate everything and be gushing over me when I get home (I can dream can’t I?).

Anyway be prepared for a few posts reviewing the conference, what I’ve learned, and of course a ton of pictures!


Gleek Retreat