Microblogging – What is it and why am I so excited about it?

Microblog Monday - Take back your blog! #microblogmonday

Microblog Monday – Take back your blog! #microblogmonday

 

I recently came across an image on Pinterest with the hashtag #MicroblogMonday. I had never heard the term ‘microblog’ before, and I was intrigued. I repinned it to one of my secret boards – ‘Things to Check Out Later When I Have More Time’ (I use this board a lot…). So, it wasn’t until this morning that I did, in fact, have time to look into microblogging in more detail, and I must say, I’m inspired.

First of all, what is microblogging?

The simplest explanation is that it’s no different from any other type of blogging, except that the posts are shorter and less involved than the typical blog post. For example, a single photo with a brief caption. A few sentences about what you did this morning. Think along the lines of a Facebook status update or an Instagram post.

More importantly, why should you microblog, and what’s got me all excited about this idea?

The concept of posting brief status updates and/or photos is hardly a new one. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were built around this idea. Many people who have blogs, myself included, are frequent users of one or more of these sties, but don’t post this same sort of content on our own blogs. When I make a blog post, I put quite a bit of thought (and time) into it. Some posts (recipes, tutorials, I’m talking about you here…) can be quite involved, and my life doesn’t always afford me that kind of time. I currently have a VERY long list of post ideas that I either haven’t started working on yet, or are in some sort of partially completed state, waiting until I get around to finishing them.

I have come to think of blog posts as pages (or in some cases, chapters) of a book. Each can be viewed and enjoyed on its own, a finished work in its own right. They’re a perfect balance between words, and beautiful, illustrative photos. My favorite blogs are resources, repositories of information and inspiration, all wrapped up with a pretty bow. So, it makes sense that I would try to model my own blog after these ones that I admire, right? Well, maybe…

For the most part, the blogs I’m talking about are written by people who have made blogging their full-time profession, or, at the very least, who are able to devote much more time to their blogs than I am. So, if I try to emulate that style of blogging, my efforts will never measure up to my own standards. I also won’t be able to post very often, since each post takes so much time to create. This is why I sometimes go months between posts, which causes me to lose my momentum and enthusiasm about blogging.

The things that keep me excited about blogging are the interactions. I love to hear from readers and connect with people who I wouldn’t have gotten to a chance to meet otherwise. Most of these interactions, however, don’t happen on my actual blog. When I find a blogger I like, I tend to follow them on other social media sites, and its there that more of the interactions take place. Why is that? Probably because they, like most of us, share more frequent, stream of consciousness, “what am I doing right now” posts on these sites. These posts tend to be more personal, more varied, and in many cases, more interesting than the well-crafted posts on their blog. It might be their blogs that introduced me to them, but it’s these ‘microposts’ that cause me to interact with them. These glimpses into their real lives make me enjoy their blogs even more.

I love seeing James of Bleubird blog’s family photos (she has the most adorable, photogenic cat and children in the universe), and Beth of Local Milk‘s travel and cooking snapshots (every last one of which is stunning – even the ones that don’t make it onto the blog). I learned from his Facebook page that Brett of Green Thumb White Apron is getting chickens this spring (a kindred spirit in ‘backyard farming’), and got a sneak peek of the gorgeous coop he is building for them. I eagerly await each new post from Emory of Hello, Scarlett Blog, as she shares the progress of the new home, affectionately dubbed “The Little Barn“, that she and her husband are building. I also love seeing photos of her beloved four-legged family members.

One of the first things I struggled with when I started my own blog was narrowing its focus. Everything I’ve ever read about becoming more successful as a blogger, encourages you to clearly define your purpose and subject matter. So, if you have a cooking blog, post recipes and food photos, and don’t muddy the waters with lots of off-topic posts. You do want to inject your personality into your blog – but you don’t want to overdo it. So, don’t post photos of your cat Fluffy, or talk about the cute thing your kid said this morning, unless your blog is about cats & kids OR is intended as a personal blog that’s mainly written for the purpose of keeping friends and family updated on your life. I’m going to go out on a limb here though and say, hogwash! Who wants to see those photos of Fluffy or hear about the cute thing your kid said? This girl.

I love personal details in blogs. I like the beautiful, professional-looking content too, and I will continue to strive towards that in some of my posts, but I’m no longer going to worry about staying on topic. My life is crazy and always changing. My interests vary widely. There probably aren’t too many people in the world who can relate to EVERYTHING I’m interested in, but I’m going to post about it all here anyway. I’m going to aim to turn my blog into a reflection of me – a quirky and chaotic mixture, to be sure. I’m going to post short, unpolished ‘status updates’ – the things I have been sharing on Instagram & Facebook. (Incidentally, I’m still going to post them to IG & FB, I’m just going to post them here first.) I’m going to post recipes and projects and tutorials. I’m going to post about being a mom, about parenting a child with Autism, about my chickens and why I raise them, and about my latest gardening endeavors. I’m also going to post about my small business and the things I make for my Etsy shop. Sometimes I’ll post photos of new products, and sometimes wedding ideas – because in the process of designing wedding accessories and interacting with brides, my mind is overflowing with inspiration, and sometimes I just have to share. In short, I’m just going to create posts without worrying about the subject matter or the blog I’m creating as a whole. To continue the book analogy, I’m envisioning more of a diary than a reference book. Sometimes my updates will be short, ‘microposts’, sometimes photos, and sometimes longer, more traditional posts. I’m also going to try not to worry so much about making each post perfect – editing and re-editing my words, or waiting until I have a photo that is up to snuff. I’m giving myself permission to post anyway – even if my writing is a little rough around the edges, or my photo is a bit out of focus. It’s all part of the process, and part of my story.

I’m working on redesigning the site to improve the ability to search for specific content, which hopefully will make it easier for readers to find the things that are of interest to them (without having to wade through the things that aren’t). In the meantime though, let me know what you think! Does this sort of blogging appeal to you or do you prefer the more traditional style? How do you manage your own blog? What works for you? If you’re already ‘microblogging’, or think you might want to give it a try, leave a link to your site in the comments – I would love to check it out! And even if I am turning this blog into a home base of sorts, let’s still connect on our other social media sites:
Instagram || Facebook || Pinterest || Google+ || Etsy Shop

If you want to learn more, or participate in #MicroblogMondays, click here to read the inaugural post.

xo ~

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{Recipe} Spiced Apple Pie with Brandy & Cream

{Recipe} Spiced Apple Pie with Brandy & Cream #thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at our house this year was a low key affair, filled with family, friends, and lots of good food – just the way I like it!

{Recipe} Spiced Apple Pie with Brandy & Cream #thanksgiving

Apple pie has always been my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love the turkey…and the stuffing…and the sweet potatoes…but I just have a soft spot for pie. This pie in particular is the perfect melding of flavors – a rich, buttery crust, tart spiced apples, and plenty of fresh whipped cream.

{Recipe} Spiced Apple Pie with Brandy & Cream #thanksgiving

I have had these cute little leaf cutters for years, and I always bust them out when I make pies for the holidays. They’re easy to use, and make your pie look super fancy ;) I’m pretty sure mine came from Williams Sonoma, but Amazon has a set that looks very similar. In trying to find a link for this post, I also came across this set, and I must admit I’m tempted to get it too! I love the acorn and the little sheaf of wheat.

{Recipe} Spiced Apple Pie with Brandy & Cream #thanksgiving

Cutting the leaves is a two part process. First you cut them from a rolled out piece of pie dough, then you press gently on the plunger to imprint the vein pattern. To make sure they stay put, apply a little egg wash to the back of each cut out before positioning it on your pie. I like to use them to circle the edge, overlapping them just slightly. Brush the tops with the egg wash as well, before putting the pie in the oven, to give it a deep, golden color.

{Recipe} Spiced Apple Pie with Brandy & Cream #thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Apple Pie

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 pounds Granny Smith apples (or another tart variety), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons brandy
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 recipe ‘Perfect Pie Crust‘ (or your favorite double crust pie dough recipe)
  • 1 egg (optional, for egg wash)

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 of the apples, 1/2 of the sugar and spice mixture, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the apples have begun to soften. Remove pan from heat and add 2 tablespoons of brandy. Return pan to burner, and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of cream. Continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients (to save time, you can do this in two skillets, simultaneously, but I find it easier to just do it in two batches).
  3. Remove apple mixture from heat. This part can be done a day or two in advance, if desired. If you’re not making your pie immediately, transfer the filling to an airtight container, let cool, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Make egg wash by lightly whisking 1 egg together with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. Divide pie dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the bottom crust out until you have a 1/8 inch thick round. Transfer it carefully to a deep dish pie pan. Pour filling into prepared crust, mounding it up towards the center. Roll out second half of your dough. Cut shapes with cookie cutters or a paring knife to form the top ‘crust’. Apply egg wash to the back of each piece of crust that is going to be laid on top of another piece of crust (this will help seal them together). Lightly brush the entire top of the crust with egg wash.
  6. Place pie into the preheated, 400 degree oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until top is starting to look golden. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to bake for another 45 to 55 minutes. If the top crust starts to get too brown, carefully place a piece of aluminum foil over the top, and continue to cook until the filling is bubbly and the bottom crust is no longer doughy.
  7. Remove pie from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool 45 minutes to 1 hour before slicing. Serve with plenty of fresh whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

To all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

xo ~

Stacey - signature

 

 

{Giving Thanks} A Letter to My Son’s Teachers

Thanksgiving is only two days away, which means that I have a to-do list a mile long, and everything feels a bit hectic. In the midst of the chaos, however, I want to take a moment to slow down and just be thankful for some of the good things in my life. I’m thankful for my family (of course), but I tell them so often that they’re probably tired of hearing it. So, here’s a thank you to some of the people I am thankful for every day, but who I don’t often get a chance to say it to.

Kindergarten Graduation

Photo is of Jack with his teacher last year when he graduated from kindergarten.

Thank you to the teachers who go so far above and beyond, who show such love and compassion, and who give so freely of themselves. Your dedication changes lives. My son’s life…my life.

To Jack’s special ed teacher, who despite the 30 other children in her care, calmly and capably deals with his anxieties and meltdowns. Who takes the time to text me in the middle of her busy workday just to let me know he’s doing ok. Who stops by during her summer vacation and plays with my kids, and listens patiently as they tell her about play dates and Lego camp, and gently reminds them (over and over again) to be careful of her injured knee as they climb on and hang from her. Thank you.

To the entire team of people who worked with Jack during his preschool and kindergarten years, you will always hold a special place in my heart. These were the years when he was crying more than he wasn’t. When I felt like a complete failure because my little boy was so unhappy. When his default answer to every question was a resounding ‘no’, followed by kicking, screaming, and scratching if you persevered. Thank you for persevering anyway, and for helping me to understand why he felt the way he did. When leaving the house was almost more than he could handle – thank you for being his home away from home. For not only teaching my boy, but for loving him. For the reassurance and hugs you gave so generously to him – and to me. Thank you.

To Jack’s first grade teacher (I still can’t believe he’s in the first grade!!), who sees his potential, and challenges him to do his very best every day. Who understands that some days, simply making it through the day is his very best. Who celebrates his achievements, and helps him pick up the pieces when things fall apart. For all you’ve done, and continue to do – thank you.

I am so very grateful for all of you.

Jack's Kindergarten Graduation

Jack giving me a big hug after his kindergarten graduation ceremony, Olly peeking out from behind.

xo ~ Stacey

{Recipe} Three Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate & Walnuts

{Recipe} Three Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate & Walnuts

{Recipe} Three Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate & Walnuts

The weather has been cold and clear here for the past week, resulting in frosty mornings and gorgeous (albeit early) sunsets. I have been having daydreams of snuggling up in front of a crackling fire and drinking hot buttered rum. Unfortunately, we don’t have a fire place, and I’ve never even tasted hot buttered rum (although if anyone wants to drop by with a cup for me, I would be totally ok with that). Continue reading

{Kids, Family, & Parenting} Halloween 2014

{DIY Halloween Costume} Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Olly wanted to be the Statue of Liberty for Halloween this year. How cute is that?! I could have done better with the costume (I didn’t even have time to hem it for goodness sake), but in the end it didn’t matter. He loved it, and he got rave reviews ;)

Halloween 2014

The rain can’t ruin our Halloween fun – not with this GIANT umbrella ;)

The rain stopped just in time for us to enjoy some (umbrella free) trick or treating! Unfortunately though, there were still some monster puddles from the rain earlier in the day – one of which Olly fell into moments after we got out of the car. He spent the rest of the evening soaking wet (but still cheerful in spite of it).

Halloween 2014 - DIY Statue of Liberty Costume

Candy break…

This kid is a candy fiend…and unfortunately, he reacts just as badly to sugar as I do. *sigh*

Halloween 2014

Yep, that’s my son…picking the statue’s nose – and teaching his little brother to do it too.

Halloween 2014 - DIY Statue of Liberty Costume

See how wet the hem of his robe is? He tripped over his dad’s foot and fell in a puddle moments after our arrival. But did it slow him down? Not one bit! (Candy makes everything better…)

Halloween 2014

Olly has already mastered the art of the ‘photo bomb’.

At some point during the chaos, we met up with our friends. Check out that owl costume, right?! My friend Em is one crafty lady ;)

Halloween 2014

Me & My Boys (looking very serious)

They may look like little cranky pants in this photo, but you would not believe how far we have come in the last 3 years! The last time Jack dressed up for Halloween was when he was 2 (you can see his skunk costume here), and even then he wasn’t very happy about it. If he had had the words to tell me at the time, he probably would have told me he didn’t want to dress up, but at the time I didn’t fully understand. The next year, he flatly refused to even discuss the idea of a costume. We really didn’t realize how very uncomfortable the whole thing made him until the first trick or treaters came to our door. He completely lost it. Shreiking and thrashing and running from the room, followed by sobbing. It was awful. “People should be what they are. I don’t like it when they act like something else.” You and me both, kiddo… By this time, he had obviously found his words (he started speaking in full sentences, with an impressive vocabulary, shortly before his 3rd birthday). We put a bowl of candy on the porch with a hastily written sign urging would-be trick or treaters to please take some candy and go (hopefully quietly) and suffered through a very long night.

By the next year, we had a plan (we also had a diagnosis – our Jack boy has Autism – and while a fear of people in costume is by no means universal, it does seem to be fairly common among young children with Autism). We were prepared to shield our costume-hating boy from the horrors of Halloween. We would keep him home from school so he wouldn’t have to see his teachers & classmates in costume. The rest of us didn’t need to dress up, right? Well, Olly had other ideas. He knew about Halloween. He knew that if he dressed up and knocked on people’s doors, they would give him candy. He was pretty sure this was a holiday he wanted to be a part of. Plus, the whole costume and face paint thing sounded awesome to him. It was one of my first realizations of just how completely incompatible my children are, and it’s only gotten worse as they’ve gotten older. In nearly every way, they occupy the extreme opposite points of every spectrum.

I wasn’t going to keep Olly from experiencing the joys of Halloween just because of his brother’s discomfort, and yet, whatever we did, I wanted us to do it as a whole family. We talked (and talked) to Jack – trying to convince him that it was ok if other people dressed up (his little brother included) – it was only one day a year, after all, and he didn’t have to dress up. He could watch Olly put on his costume – so he would know it was still his brother underneath. He tried. He really did. But as soon as he saw Olly in his cute little giraffe suit, a couple (as subtle as I could possibly make them) spots painted on his face, he lost it. He had a full on meltdown. So, we split up. I took Olly downtown for the annual Halloween celebration and Josh stayed home with Jack. It felt very defeating. I still struggle with these situations – what’s the right call here? These are the things you do together, as a family, right? But that just doesn’t always work for us.

And then this happened:

Halloween

I am a Person

Josh brought our boy down to meet up with us wearing his ‘costume’ that he had thought up all by himself. He decided he wanted to participate (there was candy involved, after all), but he did it in his own way. He still hated seeing his brother in costume (the better he knows the person, the more discomfiting it is for him to see them dressed up), but he coped. I can’t tell you how proud I was of him.

The next year was even better. He said he would dress up (what!?) if I would get him an accurate Annakin Skywalker costume with a lightsaber that he could then keep and play with after Halloween. Of course I said yes. I could tell he didn’t really love dressing up, but he did it (despite our reassurances that he didn’t have to), and he still loves that lightsaber. In fact, he wanted to wear the same costume again this year.

So, while I still hope that one day we’ll be able to dress up together as a family, I have nothing to complain about! We have come so far. This year, we all went out trick or treating. We met up with friends, we ate candy, we acted silly, and we had fun, together, as a family. And for that, I am incredibly thankful.

xo ~ Stacey

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{Kid Stuff} DIY Halloween Costume – Little Stinker

{Kid Stuff} DIY Halloween Costume – Little Stinker (Skunk)

{Kid Stuff} DIY Halloween Costume – Little Stinker (Skunk)

DIY Kids Halloween Costume Idea - Skunk

DIY Kids Halloween Costume Idea – Skunk

If you’re scrambling for a last minute Halloween costume for your little one, here’s a super simple DIY that you can put together in under an hour.

DIY Kids Halloween Costume Idea - Skunk

Little Stinker ;)

You may already have black pants & a shirt or sweatshirt that will work. The only other thing you need is some fake fur in black & white. Cut a circle of the white for the tummy. Cut a strip of black (about 6″ wide and 18″ long) and a slightly thinner strip of white. Attach the pieces however you feel most comfortable – if you sew, you may find it easiest to stitch this up with your sewing machine, a needle and thread will also get the job done, or, if you prefer, you can use fabric glue or even a hot glue gun (it’s just a costume after all, it doesn’t have to be fancy)! If you do use glue though, I recommend reinforcing the tail, at the base and top (bottom and neck) with a few stitches just to make sure it stays put.

DIY Kids Halloween Costume Idea - Skunk

Super simple skunk face paint (he wouldn’t hold still long enough for me to do any more)…

My squirmy little skunk wouldn’t hold still long enough for me to do anything more than swipe on a few whiskers and a triangle for his nose – but it still turned out pretty cute. (If you don’t have any face paint, you can use a soft black eyeliner pencil.)

* These photos were taken several years ago when my oldest son was 2. My younger son was 6 months old at the time, and no one in our house had gotten a proper night’s sleep in months (6, to be exact). In my sleep-deprived state, the costume thing sort of slipped my mind until the very last minute. When I realized that it was the morning of Halloween (seriously, how did that happen?!), I packed up both kids and schlepped them to the mall to buy a costume. I wasn’t picky – anything would do…but there was nothing. Nada. Not one single crappy, store-bought super hero suit. Not even a pirate eye-patch. The only thing on the rack was a princess dress, with an entire seam ripped out on one side, in a girl’s size 10. Tears welled up in my eyes, I very nearly had a full-blown mommy meltdown right there in the aisle of Target. Not only had I not had time to create a fabulous, Pinterest-worthy, DIY costume for my little boy, apparently I wasn’t even capable of buying him a costume (or even remembering that it was a holiday for that matter). I went home, feeling utterly defeated. It wasn’t until my grandma suggested, ‘Why don’t you just put a pillowcase over his head and cut some eye-holes? He can be a ghost! That’s what we used to do.’ And while I didn’t stick my toddler in a pillowcase, it did make me realize that it was just a Halloween costume for heaven’s sake…it didn’t need to be fancy. I riffled through my fabric stash and found a few pieces of fake fur leftover from another project. We already had a black t-shirt, and the pants were a last minute purchase from Goodwill. And voila, he was a skunk…and a darn cute one at that ;)

xo ~ Stacey

PS: Follow me on Pinterest for more costume ideas & Halloween inspiration!

 

{Lovely Things} Rustic Woodland Tablescape

Woodland Tablescape

Inspiration for setting a rustic, woodland table.

Our Christmas tree this year is going to have a rustic, woodland theme. I’m super excited about it, and have already been busy shopping for ornaments (as well as working on a few diys that I promise to share with you soon). While scouring the interwebs for decorations, I came across these absolutely adorable bottle brush ornaments. I can’t get over how cute they are. And then when I found this table setting, I was over the moon. I can’t wait to create my own version for Thanksgiving!

Sources ~ {1} Birch Bark Candle Holders  ||  {2} Oak Leaf Pasta Spoon from Terrain  ||  {3} Bottle Brush Woodland Animal Ornaments  ||  {4} Woodland Table via Martha Stewart

xo ~ Stacey

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