14 Jan

What the Hell is a Blogger?

what is blogger

A few nights ago, Dave and I were laying in bed when I asked him “When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

Because for the life of me, I don’t remember ever having wanted to be anything.

At some point I decided to join the military. And when that career path came to a screeching halt I settled for a sterile life in corporate administration. Thankfully, I fumbled into construction but it’s been over 2 years now since I took leave of my former project-managing life.

I often think of what I’d tell someone from back then if I ran into them when asked the inevitable “So, what are you doing now?”

I want to make things

Ideally, I’d respond with fervor expounding on my innovative entrepreneurial strategies; chronicling the ups and downs of paving my own path, blazing my own trails; all the while savoring every last bit of success I’d achieved since last laying eyes on that place.

Oh yes, I would wax philosophical about the 1,000-acres journey I’d made mentally from that miserable, browbeaten girl paid to cater and kowtow to Dr. Jekyll’s and his confidante, Mr. Hyde’s every whim.

And surely, they would see just how far I had come, how alive I felt and how prosperous I was. I mean I have a website and a fan page. (snort)

And I’m not lying. I do have those things but so what. If you listen to top internet marketing gurus ANYONE can start a webpage. And it’s not like Zucks & Co are all that selective in whom they allow to man a dedicated page for self promotion. So what would come rolling off my lips if I was standing face to face with a ghost from my past inquiring about my present?

“I’m a blogger,” I’d meekly say.

And I’ll tell ya, if I was on the other side of that conversation my immediate and unfiltered response would undoubtedly be “What the hell is a blogger??”

In a vain attempt to weasel myself out of this highly anticipated scenario (I’m contemplating leaving the house a few more times this year than last) I’d like to answer my own question.

When I first decided to start a blog I had no clue what a blog was. What I wanted was a way to stop posting my project photos over and over when friends asked what I was working on. Mind you, the majority of these people lived within a 5 mile radius and could have stopped over to see for themselves. Just cruising past the house between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm they’d have been able to sneak a peek at the goings-on inside the garage. But people are lazy. They want the garage to come to them.

Initially, I started a group where all of my buddies could chime in and share photos of their projects. But I quickly realized I was the only creative one in the mix, sharing what I was doing with the same four people responding ‘boy, I have no idea how to do that but it looks great!’ Not exactly the camaraderie I was hoping for.

Somehow I stumbled upon an article riddled with bullet points of dos and don’ts and ins and outs of all things blog. The website author rambled on in total geek-speak and his ‘About Me’ picture was a professional headshot not a selfie edited to include balloon hearts and glitter. Seemed legit. So an hour later I’d followed all his advice, shelled out $200 and deeconstructed.com was born.

Yeay! I have a blog! (crickets) Now what do I do with it?

Turns out a blog is supposed to be about something. And not just random any things but a very specific, tailored culmination of certain things that are unique yet intrinsically related. In layman terms a blog should fit a niche. And the blogger should have a distinct voice. Crap. I thought I just needed a catchy URL name. It’s really no wonder my soapbox on the world wide web sat dormant for a good week between launch and initial firing-up. I had no freaking clue what I was doing.

I spent those next 7 days expanding my vocabulary. I added a plethora of acronyms to my literary arsenal. I learned real quick what a self-absorbed twit Google is and how she bullies everyone into voting her prom queen. It didn’t take too much longer to understand that Facebook is the king of all crack dealers. And Pinterest must be the brainchild of a virtual Heff only it isn’t delivered wrapped in black plastic.

But you still have to hide the contents from your spouse and neighbors.

When I finally hit ‘publish’ on my first blog post I was already contemplating begging The Jek’s for my old job back. It’s not that I dislike sharing my projects with a multitude of strangers. I actually enjoy coming up with witty headlines and snarky text. I compose most posts three times over in my head during the course of a project. But it’s taxing to remember to stop halfway through a project to log a “How To” video for the YouTube channel. It frustrates me when I’ve got a desk three-quarters of the way apart before realizing I forgot to snap a ‘Before Photo’ to tweet out. When I review the evidence and realize I painted a chair three different colors before finding the most pinnable hue I’m ready to cry. Seriously, blogging about my projects takes longer than the projects themselves.

Why do you think my floors haven’t been mopped in a year?

Sure, with practice it got easier to keep track of my blog agenda while I worked through projects but making time to sit down and pull a post together proved more difficult. See, it’s not enough to do the work and then type about it. No, you have to market your brand – engage others in your niche and stroke their egos so they, in turn, will gush all things good in return around the web community about you. If you think my biggest reward would be a job well done then you severely underestimate the power of the highly coveted backlink.

And what we’d give for you to leave a comment.

Bloggers have to connect with fans in social media-land and remind you we exist, constantly feeding you morsels of our unique awesomesauce. And then there’s email. It’s a written blog rule that we must reply to all correspondence received. ALL.OF.IT. Even if I think it might be spam.

Seriously, I miss getting pushed around by an asshole boss more than I miss keeping track of my inbox. What did I get myself into?

This is a thought I’ve thunk more than a few times in the last 15 months. And, if a former coworker inquired about my new gig it’s what would come to mind just before I told him I was reading architecture and design articles and power tool instruction manuals. I’d mention the hours I’ve wasted at thrifts imagining new life into old crap. Then I’d mention knowing what phrases people use to search the ‘net looking for answers to their home improvement questions. I’d laugh and say how funny it is that someone found my site after searching “cool x husband”. If I wanted to be smug, I might mention being on-set of a popular tv show and rubbing shoulders with famous people turned house guests.

If he had time, I’d go on to explain why certain friends regularly show up in his newsfeed while others vanish into the ether and why he has seen this stupid video shared twelve times in the last two hours. I doubt he’d care about analytics, conversion rates and white balance but just in case he had any interest in linky parties or sponsorships or the origins of the hashtag, well, I could fill him in on all of that too.

Because when I secured my domain I took on many roles. I am now a writer, carpenter, photographer, painter, webmaster, researcher, socialite, salesman, and marketing/public relations manager.

But I doubt I’d say any of it. I’d probably just smile and say “I’m a blogger” and hand him my business card telling him to check out my website or fan page.

Who has time to chat when there’s stuff to create?

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09 Jan

Santa delivered the goods. I’m giving them away

diy swag contest

Hey. Remember when I put together your Christmas List? Did you find any of that awesome stuff under the tree?

I did.

Well, not under a tree because I didn’t put one of those up. Nope. I didn’t decorate one single solitary iota. Not unless you count the ceramic Santa that’s been sitting on the shelf next to the stove for well over a year anyhow.

And it’s not because I’m a Scrooge either. Back around Halloween, we decided to pack up and head West to celebrate my birthday in lieu of wrapping paper, wreaths and lights this year.

Just before we left I pulled an all-nighter to finish up the commissioned projects I was working on. I delivered Jami’s boy’s shelves, Lily’s nightstand, Eddie’s sign and Olivia’s jewelry chest just in time to pack, drop the pups off and catch our flight – where I promptly caught some zzzz’s. When we landed, Dave and I assumed our opposing positions in the ongoing “Where Will We Live When We Finally Move to Colorado” debate.

It’s a pretty easy choice for me. We can either have this… Read More

13 Dec

Attention! ATTENTION!

DIY Daily

I just love attention. {smile}

And now that I have yours there’s something I’ve got to get off my chest. It’s been weighing on my heart and interfering with my head while I’m supposed to be building and painting and well if you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately I’m sure you’ve seen me or a handful of others whining about how Facebook is ruining our small (and not so small) businesses. Tech blogs, photo blogs, home improvement blogs, music blogs and lima bean blogs (dude, this is a thing) are clearly perturbed about changes The Zucks & Co recently rolled out limiting how we (folks with FB Pages) connect with you (folks who like those pages). You see, you may not realize this but you’re missing out on a whole lot of stuff those pages are posting.

Gasp! What did you think? We were already on holiday? Read More

08 Dec

13 Awesome Gifts for The DIY Chick

13 Awesome DIY Gifts

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. Mailboxes are overflowing with sales flyers, your favorite tv shows are interrupted by countdown calendars and savvy marketers keep renaming the days of the week urging you to spend more, more, MORE!

Because I care about your sanity, I took the liberty of tracking down some wicked sweet gadgets and gizmos perfect for your ‘Ms. Fix It’ chick this Christmas season. While I firmly believe it’s your right to shower her with gifts any day of the year, these should arrive in time to be placed under the tree. And what if you ARE the DIY Chick? You’ve got plenty of time to pick up special holiday wrap for the gifts delivered by Santa. {wink}

In no particular order I present 13 Awesome Gifts for the DIY Chick in your life: Read More

30 Nov

You know the cliche “One man’s trash…”

When I am in the car surfing the neighborhood for curbside treasures, I’m often annoyed by how disposable life seems for some people. Those who, without much thought, toss perfectly good things out in the trash. Most of the time, the things I come across only require minor tweaking to be usable again. Every week when I set out to hunt, I say a quick prayer thanking God for whatever goodies I’m about to find. I’ve come to believe that what winds up in the back of my SUV was meant just for me.

Now, I didn’t always hunt for trash.

When I wound up in these parts back in 2005, I was running a construction office for a Milwaukee-based general contractor. Dave and I had already divorced and reconciled. We had just finalized plans to build a brand, spanking new house in one of two new subdivisions over the Illinois/Wisconsin border. A fresh start in a new place seemed to be the right way to give coupledom another shot. I suppose we believed our old problems would magically disappear with a change of scenery.

It became routine to swing by the home site on my way through town after work. I loved watching the progress on our new home. As luck would have it, I was hanging out in the car at the curb the day they hoisted the first floor exterior walls up. When the crane positioned the east side of our new house into place, I immediately saw an issue. From where I sat I could tell that the fireplace footing didn’t line up with the chase. Sure enough, they had mis-drawn the plans and the concrete footings were off by nearly two feet.

Are you following me here? The place we planned to get a fresh start had a questionable foundation.

the built-wrong house

Since the point of this story isn’t to bore you with the minutia of residential construction I’ll skip ahead and tell you that we didn’t wind up buying that house. (insert sigh of relief here but wasn’t she gorgeous?) After many months of bickering with the builder we got our cash back and were free to start the process all over again elsewhere. Only, by this time I was soured on the whole new house, new neighborhood, new life notion.

I distinctly remember telling Dave that it was a sign and reminded him of the first time we ignored the signs (hello? anyone remember our wedding? No – that’s right, because no one was there). He assured me this time would be different and after checking out the subdivision across the street we put an offer in on another builder’s model. In April of 2006 our ‘do over’ began here.

the do-over house

But by Labor Day weekend of 2008 I had packed up the last of my things and made the trip down the road to my new apartment. My close friend and neighbor, Gale, helped me lug boxes up to the third floor. We went shopping for a new sofa and entertainment center. She kept an eye on Dave and the house in my absence.

And things were fine for a while.

The following year I began dating a guy who lived nearby. We had a lot in common and enjoyed spending time together. Aside from regularly disagreeing on how we parented (I parented the kids and he didn’t) we got on just fine. He was Christian and very involved with his church. From the get-go he insisted that for us to pursue a future together I must be active in my faith as well. It seemed like a reasonable request and the five of us spent every Sunday with his parents in church. We regularly discussed the Gospel at home and he was eager to answer any questions I had about the differences between my Catholic upbringing and his Christian beliefs. It didn’t take long at all to realize what I thought I knew amounted to a hill of beans.

Although my faith was growing, my patience with this man and his children waned and we wound up going our separate ways. In the split, he got custody of his church and I was left to find a new place to worship. Once again, my friend Gale pitched in offering a seat beside her on Sundays at her church.

It was easy to fall in to place at Crossway. Dave and I were getting along well enough so I invited him to Sunday service a few times. He even agreed to attend an Exploring Christianity course in the hopes of strengthening his understanding of the Word for the sake of our son. Looking back, it was probably a mistake to put our names next to each other on the sign-up list. Of course they assumed we were together and placed us at the same table and in the same small discussion group. What was supposed to help unite us wound up driving us further apart. By the time the 8-week session was up, we weren’t even on speaking terms.

So it was pretty easy to decide to get out of town all together when my lease was up. Work had me commuting an hour each way so moving closer was a practical decision. Saving time and money was a no-brainer; putting a good distance between me and the ex’s was an added bonus. Three years later, I packed and moved my belongings a third time to Milwaukee. By now, Dave had sold the house and moved on too. As I was exploring the city’s social scene he was climbing the corporate ladder. We were cordial but kept our personal lives from each other. Our conversations were kept to a minimum and revolved around our kid.

That summer I suggested we modify our long-standing kid-swap arrangement. Instead of meeting half-way every Saturday for the trade-off, I offered to drive all the way down every Sunday. I had visited Crossway Milwaukee but couldn’t get comfortable there. Tuning in to Crossway’s e-church was convenient but a poor substitution for being part of their weekly service. Plus, I missed seeing Gale. Dave agreed and I started spending more time in our old neighborhood.

On Halloween, Dave and I were invited to dinner. An old neighbor was in town having dinner with some mutual friends. It was the first time we’d spent any time together since I moved away. Slowly, we started talking more and when I signed up for another round of Exploring Christianity, he tagged along. This time we intentionally chose to sit together and engage in what we were learning.

Now, a lot of people could take credit for how the next few months panned out. But standing with Dave the following September, before our Pastor, friends and family exchanging vows, it was pretty clear to me whose repurposeful hand had been at work restoring the relationship we’d thrown away.

Every week for the last year I’ve made my way through our subdivision hunting for treasures.

Two streets over I drive past the built-wrong house before crossing the street into our old neighborhood. I hang two lefts and drive past Gale’s house. I always stop at the curb in front of the builder’s model (our do-over house) to say a quick prayer of thanks before bringing my trash-to-treasure finds home for their making over.

our home

There’s a lot of magic happening inside this little house and more than just furniture is being redeemed.

(crappy photos courtesy of Google Earth)

31 Aug

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Antique Wooden Side Chair

This weekend marks the official end of summer. Although the weather has just finally caught up with the calendar, pools will be closing for the season and kids will be back in school on Tuesday. And while I’ll definitely miss the sun setting at 9:00 pm, I am all for cooler temps so those blasted mosquitoes quit attacking me in the garage. Usually about this time, I’d look back over the summer and think about all the things I wanted but never got around to doing. This year, though, that’s not the case. With all the DIY projects that got started {and the handful that were completed}, I’ve been a busy bee. But, it hasn’t been all work and no play. Ooh, trust me I’ve played.

Mid June, we enjoyed a week-long family vacation in California and I met my first blogging pal in real life. I was home for a day before hopping a plane in the opposite direction to wrap up the Blogger Showdown challenge in New Jersey. Along the way, I stopped off to hang out with a new pal in New York. He was working at a school-yard-turned-flea-market and invited me to come spend the day with him. No way was I going to turn down that opportunity. Read More