On Being a Writer: Write

The reason I have been blogging for six months now is to facilitate a more regular pattern of writing. When I have goals set for myself I am much more likely to complete what it is I want to accomplish. Also, when I have people holding me accountable for those goals then I feel even more responsible for making sure those tasks actually happen. With blogging I have sought out a way for me to routinely write and practice writing about a multitude of topics while you, my readers, hold me accountable.

There are many things about the craft of blogging that I have yet to perfect. I want to make it clear that I don’t always follow the guidelines I am about to list. Also, I’m sure that there is a better and more efficient process for blogging. This is just the process that I have found that works for me.  I set out each week with a list of potential topics and ideas. Those ideas get plugged into a Blog Post Planner which I purchased from Plum Paper. I use this planner to track posting ideas, titles, where I am in the process of each post, and my blog statistics.

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On an average week I aim to create six posts, but sometimes life keeps that from happening. I’ve never done fewer than three posts in a week, however. Each post begins with a fifteen to thirty minute session of getting all my thoughts and ideas out. This process is then followed by editing. After I’ve cut and pasted, removed, and added to my original writing I run everything by my editor (my husband). Almost every post gets reviewed by him. He has the permission to be a Grammar Nazi. He also helps me catch any missing information from the posts. So, if you see any glaring mistakes blame the hubby. (No, I’m kidding. Sometimes this step gets skipped and that’s usually when you see the mistakes)

One thing that helps me achieve my goal of six posts per week is the feature on WordPress (my blog platform) that allows me to schedule posts in the future. With this feature I am able to work on posts when time allows and I don’t have to feel pressure to actually create a post every day.

When I am able I like to finish each post a couple of days in advance so that I have ample time to revise and edit each post. This isn’t always the case, but during my organizational phases I could be almost a week ahead of schedule as far as revising and editing go,

I’ve learned that my writing is best when I am locked into a habit of writing regularly. Some days my posts are short and sweet, but they still count as progress for my skill. I enjoy spending time alone with my thoughts and getting ideas out in a timely manner.

How do you frame your blogging or writing process? 

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Reblog: You’re a Good Mom

I have been searching for articles to share every other weekend from bloggers that I follow and enjoy. This week I found an encouraging article by my friend, Autumn, at Welcome to My World. Her article is entitled, You’re a Good Mom.

As a mother of a toddler I can totally relate to Autumn on many levels. In this post she discusses a mother’s desire to be good, but all of the insecurities that keep us from feeling that way. For me, I struggle with a full-time job and all that it entails, friendships, housekeeping, and spending quality time with my family everyday. This article helped me to see that it’s okay to put family first. So what  if my house is a mess 80% of the time? I’ve got a healthy, growing girl and that’s my first priority. It is nice to hear from others that you are doing a good job, but for me validation comes from knowing that I’ve done my best each day to be the mom that my little Arianna needs me to be.

Please check out Autumn’s blog post!

Five Minute Friday: Alone

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is alone. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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I Do Not Know Alone (A poem)

Alone is a place I can never be,

Since the Spirit of God is always with me.

Alone is a word I do not know,

For my God is with me wherever I go.

At times it seems quiet,

Like His answers aren’t there.

Other times I feel broken,

And think life’s not fair.

But through it all He’s healing my pain,

As I cry out He whispers my name.

It’s hard to listen and talk all at once,

Sometimes the silence is all that he wants.

If I take time to notice I see once again,

When I think I’m alone He’s always a friend.

Who will never leave me even when it gets tough,

I’m never alone; My Savior’s enough.

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We all need this reminder. When things get hard and we feel like no one could possibly understand or care about what we are going through there is always someone to turn to. If you feel like God doesn’t hear you or you can’t discern His voice and direction take some time to listen. Stop talking and let God speak to you. This is something I struggle with. I want instantaneous responses and I want them to sound a certain way. I anticipate God’s responses and when they don’t look or sound the way I expect that they should I feel like God isn’t there. Take some time to listen to his still, small voice. At times that voice is just a whisper, but a small voice can have a large impact. Remember: you are never alone.

On Being a Writer: Notice

This is my latest installment on the link-up On Being a Writer based on the book by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Head over to Kate Motaung‘s page to join or read this link-up.

Today’s topic is Notice.

Why is it so hard to take the time to notice the beauty and inspiration around us? This is the hardest part about writing for me. I can generally get words flowing pretty quickly once I have a topic, but noticing the details in life that can become those topics is so difficult.

I struggle with this practice not only in my writing, but in everyday life. We all go through seasons where things get  busy and hectic. We forget to slow down and appreciate every aspect of creation. That’s me right now. I’m hoping for story ideas or writing prompts to appear, but I’m not taking the time to slow down and notice the beauty and creativity around me. A sunset could lead to a poem. A toddler tantrum could lead to a blog post. A conversation with a friend could lead to a creative, Biblical piece of writing.

When we get so busy we miss out on a lot. We neglect to see the possibilities in our writing because we aren’t looking. If you ever feel like me and struggle with what to write take a step back and notice the world around you. Write down what you see. And go from there. Writing is so much more than words on a page. Writing is about seeing the potential in everything, big or small, to make an impact on the world around you. It’s about harnessing those ideas and giving them life. Take some time today to NOTICE.

My First Fix

Over the past couple of months I’ve heard a lot about StitchFix on other blogs and social media sites. After doing my research in the company seeking out any loophole I decided to give it a shot.

What is StitchFix?: StitchFix is an online personal stylist program. As the customer you begin by filling out a profile about yourself and your sizes on the StitchFix website. From this profile a team of stylists selects five unique pieces and sends them in the mail on a regular basis (the duration of which you can decide).

How does it work?: In order to receive your fix you must first complete a personal survey where you list details about your unique style and preferences and answer questions created to make your experience with StitchFix the best it can be. Next, you can schedule how often you’d like to receive your fix in the mail. I chose to not over commit to something I was unsure of so I chose the option of receiving my box once every other month.

How much does it cost?: There is a $20 stylist fee for each fix that ships to your home. That fee can be applied to any pieces that you decide to keep from that shipment. After that original $20 fee each time you only pay for what you want to purchase. If you choose to purchase all five pieces in the StitchFix box you receive a 25% off discount on your order.

What if I don’t like something?: The StitchFix company encourages you to try on every item. Anything that does not fit or that you don’t wish to purchase can be returned in a prepaid priority mail bag that is sent in each StitchFix at no cost to you. You have three days from the arrival of your box to complete the online checkout and resend any items you do not wish to keep. In order to checkout you must visit your account on their website and comment about each piece. If you choose not to keep something write why that piece was undesirable and that helps the stylists find better options in the future.

If you are interested in giving it a try yourself you can CLICK HERE to create your own account and begin filling out a profile. (Please use the hyperlink above as it helps me earn a little extra credit on my account as well. Thanks!)

What I found appealing about this particular company is that I had the power to communicate one-on-one with my stylist. I was able to request certain styles and I provided a link to my Pinterest board which gave my stylist more information about my personal style. She asked me questions, and we dialogued back and forth several times before she sent my first package.

My package arrived this Monday afternoon. I rushed home from work to find this beautiful and exciting package on my front porch:

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As I began to unpack its contents my joy only increased. I received a card from my stylist which highlighted the pieces that she sent me as well as Styling Cards which showed multiple ways to wear each piece within the box.

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Underneath all of the tips, cards, and receipts I found the clothing that the stylist picked especially for me. Here is a picture of each piece: (not everything fit me in the end so I’ll just show you the card for the pieces I did not purchase)

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1. This cardigan was perfect for me. It is something that can easily dress up an outfit and be worn to school, but can also be paired with denim to create a casual look. I chose to purchase this piece because it is so versatile.

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2. I absolutely, positively, 100% loved this sweater. It is an oversized style which is not something I own much of or would have picked for myself, but as soon as I put this on I fell in love. It’s another piece I can wear several different ways. The price was a little higher than I had hoped ($58), but I bit the bullet and purchased this one because I was so in love.

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3. I had asked my stylist for a pair of patterned pants and she definitely delivered. The dilemma with the pants were that they did not fit. The pattern was flattering and adorable, but they didn’t quite fit me around the waist correctly. There was a lot of extra space in them and it ended up looking sloppy once I tried them on. This was disappointing, but at least I was able to send them back at no charge. I redid my measurements in my profile and asked my stylist to send another pair of a different size in my next StitchFix order. The sizing error was on my end NOT StitchFix’s.

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4. When I got to the blouse I was astounded. Wow, does my stylist know me. In fact, she nailed it! The only problem: I actually have a top almost identical to this one that I bought last fall. Again, bummer, but at least this means that my stylist understands my preferences. I sent this blouse back, but appreciated the Styling Card which will help me when it comes to how to wear the top I already own.

5. Finally, I received a necklace by Zad: Melba Beaded Layered Necklace. I decided to pass on this necklace. It was cute and versatile, but I am actually drowning in jewelry and not really in need of another simple piece. If it had been more unique then I may have kept it.

So, my overall experience was great. I enjoyed seeing the styles and pieces that were selected for me. I did end up returning three of my five pieces, but probably would’ve kept the pants if they were in my size. All of the tips and blogs I’ve read online say that the experience only gets better the more that you use StitchFix, because the stylists take to heart the comments that you leave in the Checkout and they use those comments to select future pieces. I have chosen to continue with the company and I am looking forward to my next delivery in October. I would recommend StitchFix for anyone with a flexible budget, busy lifestyle that prevents them from being able to shop regularly, or the desire to makeover their wardrobe. For me, I can go through phases where I get stuck on certain styles and I decided to give it a chance in order to add some diversity for my closet. I love the features that allow communication between the customer and stylist. It made the experience a good one and one that I plan to repeat again.

If you have any specific questions about my experience ask away! I know many of my readers already have a service they use like StitchFix, but I strongly urge you to give this company a try. Once again, if you would like to check it out please CLICK HERE and use my link as referrals in this company can help to earn credit toward future orders.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

*This post contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation as a result of this post.

Meanwhile in the Garden…

Over this summer I have chronicled my first ever venture at gardening. It’s been a fun experience and this week I was finally able to harvest my first vegetables. If you want to check out the step-by-step process you can read my previous posts: My Garden in the Making Part 1, My Garden in the Making Part 2, and The Weeds Were Taking Over.

The following pictures are snapshots of the progress that my garden has made and some of the “veggies of my labor”.

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In the top left corner you can see my very healthy and prosperous cucumber plant. At this point it is taking over the rest of the garden. It’s spread itself the entire width of my allotted space and is producing an abundance of vegetation. So much so that I am practically forcing all of my friends to take some.

In the top right corner you can see the first ever pickings from my garden. On my first day of picking I was able to pluck three fully grown and delicious cucumbers and one lovely green pepper. My green pepper plant has not been as fruitful as the others, but it’s been a wet and hot summer so it’s to be expected.

In the bottom left corner you can see a large plant surrounded by carrots on the ground. I did not plant anything in this spot so I am unsure of what this plant is, but it looks like one of my neighbor’s plants so its possible the seed fell on my soil. Or it could be a weed. It’s definitely a possibility. If you have insight as to what this giant plant is please fill me in. I’m clueless.

In the bottom right corner you can see my lovely tomato plant. I am anxiously awaiting the ripening of my first tomatoes, but as you can see my tomatoes are plentiful. They’re also my favorite of the vegetables so I am excited to taste my first homegrown tomato!

Not bad for a newbie, right? It’s been a great learning experience and I’ve really fallen in love with the idea of growing and caring for my own vegetable plants. I hope to update once again when the rest of the vegetables are ready to be picked.

On Being a Writer: Surround

I am currently taking part in a link-up that will be posted twice a week for a little over a month discussing ideas from the book On Being a Writer by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. To visit the link-up pop on over to Kate Motaung’s page, Heading Home, and check out other bloggers’ writings on a similar topic.
Today’s topic is Surround: 
When I write posts on my blog I oftentimes write about whatever has stolen my attention on that particular day. Some days that means I blog about a book that I’m reading or have just finished. Other days I write about activities my family took part in. At other times I may share a recipe I found on Pinterest or a DIY project that I’ve been working on for my home.
My blog posts always reflect whatever it is that I’m surrounding myself with. If it seems like my topics are widespread it is because I’m passionate about so many things, but the idea that ties every post together is my passion and desire for writing. I blog because I love to write and though my inspiration varies my motivation and reasons for blogging do not. I am a Christian-Wife-Mother-Teacher-Writer-Homeowner-Friend and that is why my blog explores so many topics. I can’t just write about one of those aspects because all of those things make me who I am.
Some ideas I would like to tackle in my writing life would be some more short, creative stories. In order to make that happen I first need to be reading more and taking time to develop my ideas in a more orderly fashion. I’m not the best at collecting my ideas in a nice and neat notebook or file. I think in order to do more creative writing projects I will need to be more adamant about taking time to cultivate topics and ideas. I will also need to put myself in state of mind where I am searching out inspiration as opposed to waiting for it to hit me.
One of the most inspirational places for me to write is at a coffee shop in my hometown. Some of my most focused and productive writing has come from sessions at this cafe. I think whenever I hit a dry patch in writing I need to take some time to myself and venture out of my home to find that inspiration. I also do well to write in serene spaces. Packing up my laptop and traveling to the Great Outdoors is a great way for me to get inspired.
What inspires you? What can you surround yourself with that will make you a more focused and passionate writer?