Love Your Theme

Today’s assignment from Blogging University: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.

I did and changed my blog theme. Check it out!

Yes, short but sweet. I’m just trying to do something productive with my blog since I haven’t had time in the last week…Not sure how productive this post actually is…

but the change is fun! 🙂

It’s Just Me,

Sarah

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Make Your “About” Page Irresistible

Blogging University‘s 5th assignment for Blogging 101 today is to “create and publish your About page, and adapt it for a widget on your home page.”

I created my About page when I started the blog in 2006 and then I simply update it off and on. Just last week I edited my page, because it had been a few years since any changing or adding had occurred–00ps! Now this assignment leads me back to it…

“Why do this?

  • An enticing About page gives your readers an idea of who you are and what your blog is about, and shows off your unique voice.
  • A short description of your blog right on the home page helps rushed, indecisive readers decide to stick around.

…Most importantly, your About page tells your blog’s story.” (from the assignment)

My About page definitely gives a picture of me and where I come from. I’m not sure how “enticing” it is! 🙂 However, I believe it works well. I’m a pretty down-to-earth woman, a loving & encouraging wife and mom (working on the patience though!), a loyal & fun friend, and a Christ-follower who knows she’s still learning & growing in my relationship with my Savior. Also my family is a huge part of my story because all — from my grandparents to my kids — have been/are huge parts of my story – who I am and why.

I already use a couple widgets to personalize my home page. With one I include a picture and another is used for a link that allows the reader another way to get to my About page. I hadn’t thought of adding a shorted “about” in addition to what I have. I’ll work on that through this week since I know I won’t be posting as often (back to regular schedule) – I’ll give myself an extension on that part of the assignment! 😉

In previous posts, (1) I introduced myself, (2) worked on the name of my blog, (3) checked out a few different blogs and topics, and (4) wrote to you while including a few different blog elements. Come back and check out more as the fun and learning continue …

It’s Just Me,

Sarah

Rethinking My Blog, Again!

I began this blog in January 2006 with no true direction, just to entertain a friend and because I had been thinking about it. I wasn’t very consistent, but for the past few years I have definitely used my blog more as an outlet for book reviews, which equals free books!! 🙂

After a friend and young mom’s death, I posted Do I want to restart? in Dec 2010. Then I further posted my thought and history of my blog on Why I Blog? (part 1) in June 2011 and the long awaited Why I Blog? (part 2) in Aug 2011. My conclusion was that I would keep enjoying my simple pleasure of reviewing books and sharing them with you, with some actual blogging thrown in here and there.

Now I’m considering and reconsidering the need for my blog. Actually I know there is no true “need”. My friend that I started it for, doesn’t even stop by, and most of the friends that were blogging aren’t anymore. I usually get very little action in the comments. However, it has been totally awesome to get response back from the authors of the books I reviewed, such as Heart Wide Open, Defy the Night, The Passionate Mom, The Night and the Firefly, and Night of the Living Dead Christian!!

Also I have a lot going on in my “real world” life. I love hanging out with my husband and kids! Our kids are older, so my responsibilities have changed from primarily filling little tummies, wiping bottoms, and dealing with nap issues to teaching and training their hearts and minds. Right now I am normally getting more sleep at night, yet my days are very full. I feel like I need to be more and more careful with my time.

I have enjoyed reviewing book – picking out free books, waiting for them to show up in the mail, reading them, telling the world my thoughts, and passing them along to family and friends. It is super fun to give away copies to my readers, like in these review posts: Night of the Living Dead Christian bog tour, Roots of the Journey (which was a CD), How to Control Your Emotions so They Don’t Control You, Women Living Well, and As One Devil to Another. I love it when my review helped someone looking for a new book or not sure wether they would be interested in a certain book – Love & War, Full Disclosure, A Sound Among the TreesLes Miserables (Radio Theatre), and Where Lilacs Still Bloom.

And yet, now I feel like my season of reviewing books may need to sloooooowwww down…not totally end, but I choose to be much more selective. The main reason is that writing a good review takes time, time that I feel I can better invest in other areas. I want to be able to read with no responsibility except for my own entertainment or learning. Also I have a lot of books that I want to read, physical books and ebooks. Also, we have Amazon prime and there are so many books that I can read for free. These are all books that don’t require a review.

So, Cheers to a new direction to my blog. I plan to do less book reviews, but try to write a post at least once a week, and then I’ll decide from there. I’m hoping to grow through this Blogging 101 course from Blogging University,  but I also don’t want to free up time from reviewing book to lose it in blogging. I really want to invest the time where it matters – in my faith, family and friendships.

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Blogging 101’s Weekend 1 Warriors Assignment included suggestions such as

  • Spend more time in the Reader. I did and added a few more blogs to follow.
  • Download the WordPress app. I already have this on my phone but deleted it this summer when I has at a concert with my daughter and need more room for pictures! 🙂 I don’t think I’ll worry about putting it back on right now, because I rarely used it.
  • Write another post. This is what I’m working on now… “Rethinking My Blog, Again!”.
  • Share some love in The Commons. Since I’m not “officially” registered, I can’t get into The Commons. I will be registered next month, which still works for me since I know I will continue into February and perhaps into March. My family has been sick, so I’ve had more time to work on my blog. However, we are all getting better! {Thank You, Jesus!!} That also means I will be back to our regular schedule with much less time to devote to blogging. I plan to try to blog at least once a week, maybe twice depending on how I can fit it in.

Write to Your Dream Reader

Today’s Blogging 101 Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.

My dream reader is someone in need of encouragement… A Christian sister or brother, a bored stranger, a homeschooling mom, a reader looking for their next book… I’m not really that picky!

Today I’m thinking about Priorities. Since I need encouragement is that area, someone else may too.

As I searched through the blog posts with a tag of “priorities” (which I leaned more about in Assignment 3. You are impressed that I’m using what I’m learning, yes?!), I found other bloggers were focusing on it as well.

  • 101 Ways to Cook Rice and Beans wrote a short but a great post titled Priorities on “Wordy Wednesday” (I’ll have to check that out later). I really appreciate how he focuses us on the reality of the battle involving our priorities…”Your priorities are at war. I’m talking bombs blowing up, soldiers screaming, helicopter just crashed into a barn creating in an plume of flames kind of war.”
  • The Mama Hayes Blog also has a post called Priorities. She shares that “I’m really starting to think I need to quit some stuff and get back to what’s important and focus on my relationship with God.” I love the song she directs us to, which is Francesca Battistelli’s song When the Crazy Kicks In 
  • Living Royalty shares a song too with the tag “priorities”. The post and song are both of the same name Jesus at the Center. Here’s the same video she posted from Darlene Zschech 
  • Becoming His Butterfly‘s prayer reminds me of the heart cry I’ve heard echoed from many other bloggers.

    Lord, may we remember you, even in our most stressful of circumstances, in the demands of our ambitions, in the eventualities that tug us down. Let us slooow down and savor you. Amen.

  • Pictures of Silver encourages us in her post I Don’t Have Time. “We all have our reasons of why we don’t do things, but so many of us are just ‘too busy.’  We can be so busy doing ‘good’ things that we don’t notice those around us who may just need an encouraging word or an invitation for dinner. ..So what are you filling your schedule with?  Are they things that you feel the Lord is calling you to do, or are they things that you feel compelled to do?  …this time has been so good for us to stop and think about what we should be filling our time with. …as the new year just started, what are you busy doing?  How can you allow the Lord to lead you this year to encourage and minister to others?  How can you stop and be still this year to allow the Lord to work in your own life?”
  • I think…shares his views on Establishing Priorities. “No matter what comes out of our mouth, what we do with our bodies will tell the world what our priorities truly are.  The first 30 minutes of the day are crucial to lay down what matters most to you.”

Those are all great words of conviction and encouragement. Thanks, fellow bloggers! Now on to action — on my part!

In the big picture, my priorities are

  1. God – my Lord and Savior
  2. Matt – my husband
  3. Abbye, Hannah, Eva, and Neil – our kids
  4. Their education
  5. Friends – Extended family, church family, and close friends

Those are the easier ones to set. However, it’s the little everyday ones that seem harder. What school curriculum do we need to use?… How can I fit everything in?… What extra curricular activities will encourage growth in our kids’ gifts and talents?… How to protect our family time?…

Ok. I’ve got to close this assignment and really do some planning, offline. God bless 🙂

It’s Just Me,

Sarah

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For Assignment 4, I wrote to my “dream” reader, which is you, of course! New elements include links to other blogs, specific posts, youtube videos, a couple kinds of lists, and a few different colors of texts thrown in for fun. Actually none of these are totally new for me, but I wasn’t sure what else to add.

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Here’s posts for my previous assignments –

1: Introduce Yourself, 2: Say Your Name, and 3: Say Hello to the Neighbors.

Blogging 101 Assignment 3: Say Hello to the Neighbors

Blogging 101 continues with the third assignment of “follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs“. 

“Why spend time reading other blogs?

  • Publishing posts is only half of blogging — engaging with the community is the other.
  • Considering what other bloggers write will inspire you and sharpen your thoughts.

Part of what makes blogging such a rich experience are the relationships we develop with people from around the world.  Those relationships only happen when we engage with one another — Plus, reaching out to other bloggers is the best way to have them return the favor.” (from the assignment)

This makes sense. Blogging is a way to connect. Right now, I’m already following several blogs. However, I don’t sit down to read them very often. So, I decided to check them all out…it’s been pretty sad. Most of the blogs seem to be slowly dying – not deleted, but with not much recent activity. I guess I’m not as behind, since there was nothing to read! 😦

The Reader is something I don’t use very often, but I believe it’s suppose to allow me to stay up on the blogs and topics I choose to follow more easily. So, maybe I should check it out more often!? If you need easier…and that’s me!! 🙂

I do already add tags (which are the topics people can search for) to my posts, but I’ve rarely used them to hunt down topics.

Finding 5 blogs and 5 topics to follow was not easy. (I already had 16 blogs and 6 tags that I was following…not regularly, but I clicked “follow”!)  🙂 I do not want to waste my time or follow something just because it was an assignment. My thought before I jump in to the assignment: I don’t believe I’m going to get five each, but… I did follow…

For blogs:

*Life and It’s…

*God is Always Faithful

*Reflecting the Son

*Amy K. Sorrells

A couple more addition came as I search through topics:

*Merry Magpie Farm — I found through the “homeschooling” tag

*Quietly Reminded — I found through the “Hello Mornings” tag

For Tags/Topics I began to follow Christianity, motherhood, homeschooling, prayer, Hello Mornings, and book reviews.

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Well, well, I actually completed my assignment plus one! I added 6 blogs and 6 tags. Is that because I am an overachiever? Perhaps not since I had to use spellcheck to spell “overachiever”!! But we can’t all assume that all overachievers know how to spell! Most likely there is a little bit of rebellion in there too! 😉 🙂

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It’s Just Me,

Sarah

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Assignment 1: Introduce Yourself

Assignment 2: Say Your Name

Blogging 101 Assignment 2: Say Your Name.

Blogging 101 continues with the assignment of “edit your title and tagline“.

My title and tagline started as “It’s Just Me: My thoughts and happenings of the day…” and hasn’t changed in the 9 years life of my blog.

“It’s Just Me” was NOT chosen as a statement of low self-esteem, or a “poor me” attitude, or anything like that. It’s more like calling up a good friend and saying “Hey, it’s just me. Here’s what’s going on in my life… What’s happening with you?”. Since I started it for a friend to read who was having an issue with insomnia, I wasn’t planning on blogging about anything mind blowing or earth shattering, but real life and thoughts, more specifically my life and thoughts – messy but beautiful, overwhelming but blessing, …. I’m sure you get the idea. Therefore, after thinking and writing through my thoughts, my title stays unchanged. I like it!

Now on to the tagline of “My thoughts and happenings of the day…” Looking back at it I first notice that it’s not exciting, catchy, or unique. If you don’t know me, then you probably wouldn’t stick around to read more of “my thoughts and happening of the day”, right?!

I really didn’t spend any time thinking about or developing my tagline when I started the blog. I knew I wanted a blog about anything and everything. This of course would include my kids, but I’m knew I wasn’t going to be a “mommy-blogger”. (I started one of those before this one and ended up with family drama, so I deleted it!) As I look back over my posts, some of these fall under the “my thoughts and happening of the day” generalization. However, as I mentioned in my last post the focus in the past several years have been reviews, mainly over books but with some reviews of movies and audio dramas. (However, I plan to adjust that and also to write more on that later.)

Yes, I now realize I need to change my tagline. I don’t have anything right now, but I’m going to set this to publish in two days (I ended up publishing it a day earlier). That gives me a specific goal to work towards as I brainstorm and hopefully come up with something. I guess you’ll just have to check the tagline to see if it’s changed! 😉

It’s Just Me,

Sarah

Here’s my Assignment 1, if you want to let me introduce myself. 🙂

Blogging 101 Assignment 1: Introduce Yourself

Blogging University –through Dailypost.wordpress.com— has the goal to educate, inspire and connect bloggers no matter where they blog. Blogging U have several previous courses (which I plan to check out later)

But the one in session and the one I’m joining is….

If I haven’t done any, Blogging 101 sounds like the best place to start, right!? I believe they’ve done this course at least one before, but I missed it. This session actually started at the first of January, the assignments have come almost daily, and I don’t even remember if I actually officially registered for it. So, as you can tell, I’m a little confused and definitely behind, but I am stepping out with great intentions of learning more in the area of blogging. Yes, I know–I started this blog named “It’s Just Me” in January of 2006, so maybe I know something…maybe?…hopefully! However, I still feel like a newbie in the blogging world. Therefore, let the learning begin!!

Blogging 101 begins with the assignment of “Introduce Yourself“.

Side Note: These assignments may or may not have blogging prompts. However, I decided that if I wrote through my thought process, I could hopefully improve my blog while getting back into the habit of writing. I’m not sure how this is going to work, since I’m behind AND since I don’t believe one post each day is realistic for me AND since this one post took all day! Well…not really…all day. I did start in the morning and it is now night time. However, my focus has been off and on with life’s blessings and responsibilities–kids, meals, education, and etc needs through out the day. I’m praying that my writing will come easier as I do it more often.

Now I am to introduce myself.. I’m Sarah — sinner saved by God’s grace, daughter, sister, wife, mom, homeschool teacher, friend, and random stranger who’s blog who may have happened upon. 🙂

I started this blog to entertain a friend, as I joked about here! Actually I had been considering the idea and had several friends blogging. It sounded like a fun and interesting way to share thoughts, ideas, life lessons and such. Also as a stay-at-home mom of young kids, it was a way to “get out of the house” without actually going anywhere.

I decided to do a blog instead of a personal journal because I did want the connection. Plus my handwriting is not good! 🙂 (I’m not joking! It’s another things I probably need to take a class on!)

I’ve covered lost of different topics through the years. I like that I haven’t put myself in any kind of corner to limit what my blog can be about. However, I have turned it into more of a review blog for the past several years. I have done this because I love to read and I received free books! Also, reviewing books allowed my reading to feel productive and not just a fun thing to do. It was the activity I truly kept for myself. However, I felt, as a mom, that there was always so much, in my opinion, that continually needed to be done around the house and with the kids that I felt like I needed a reason to choose to read. Sounds silly, I know!

My goal with this blog is to reach and bless and inspire who I can, but I’m not sure who that will be…maybe you? 🙂 I do know that it won’t be daily. I would like to share at least one post each week that isn’t a book review.

It’s Just Me,

Sarah

(I would love to figure out some fun way to make my name look like an actual signature or at least something other than type print.)