I had the pleasure of interviewing Jimmie Lanley for The Homeschool Sanity podcast. I continue to be inspired by what I learned from her about growing my blog and using Google+. Be sure to listen in if you’ve ever thought about blogging or using social media to build a business. Don’t worry about trying to write down the many helpful links she mentions. They’re in the show notes linked above!
You’ll appreciate her words of wisdom, even if you’ve been blogging for a while. Even better, she is offering free copies of a fantastic ebook for taking your blog to the next level to three readers. Scroll down to enter. Want to purchase the book instead? You can find it at iBlogTheBook.com.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I love writing these posts. I feel like I’m having lunch with my friend, Deb, and updating you on what’s been going on. At least I’m writing to you and not talking at warp speed like I do with her. You can scroll at your own pace! I’d really love to hear about you, too. I don’t want to hog the whole conversation. (Well, actually I do, but I will restrain myself.)
August was the best month ever for this blog with page views up 28% from the previous high in May. I am so blessed by that. It just isn’t as fun to write when only your mother is reading (not that I don’t appreciate you, Mom).
In August, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – this still makes me laugh, not because it’s a humorous piece, but because I had read that if a pin doesn’t go anywhere in the first 30 minutes, it’s sunk. This pin went absolutely nowhere the first month and now has been read thousands of times. It’s not “viral” by any means, but it demonstrates the power of Pinterest to keep content alive.
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being a Mom
The sequel to the above post, this is another pin that didn’t do much at first. Now all of a sudden it’s taking off. Pinning on Pinterest is a lot like putting notes in helium balloons. You never know where they’ll end up!
Why Classical Conversations Should be a Part of Your Curriculum – this post ranked in the top 3 again this month via Google searches.
My favorite post of the month was 5 Lessons Our Foreign Exchange Student Taught Me. If you missed it, I think you will enjoy it. Saying good-bye to Lucas was really hard, but we are so blessed to have established a friendship with his family. Elaina now has his sisters as her Spanish pen pals!
Sadly, I am having to let The Inspired Day go for now
I have some other projects that I feel led to pursue (one of which I will tell you about below). If you don’t subscribe to that blog, I would love for you to read The Last Blog Post. I think it communicates the essence of what I wanted to share there.
#2 The Homeschool Sanity Show Podcast
I am super excited to be hosting a podcast as part of the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network that will be launching September 19th. I have to wait to give you more details until the website is up and running, but I think you’re going to love it. I’ve been a guest on radio programs for two decades, but I’ll get to be the interviewer now. Please like the network page on Facebook and be watching this blog for details about the show. Have I mentioned I’m excited? 🙂
#3 Back to School
Every year is a better school year. I’m delighted with how things are going. I’ll explain one reason our schedule is so much more functional in my productivity post at the end of the week. I love our curriculum choices for the year, too. I’m planning to share more curriculum reviews with you because my homeschool readers seem to love them.
I’ll admit it. When I started homeschooling, I dreamed of being one of those families that had all the kids playing a different instrument so they could perform together. That idea was dead very quickly. With as busy as I was having babies, homeschooling, writing, and speaking, music education took a back seat. My three oldest took piano lessons for a while, but quit. Then Caleb took it up again a few years ago with a vengeance. I started to wonder why I had wanted him to play? Then last fall, Sam started guitar lessons. This past Sunday both boys played as part of our youth praise band at church. That on top of Andy starting drum lessons, and giving the youngest three piano and voice lessons at home is making me wonder if we’ll be one of those families after all. (More on the curriculum I’m using later.)
#5 New Recipes
I did manage to get some new recipes made this month. It helped that I publicly committed to making this one on Facebook. It’s from Set Your Fat on Fire Fitness. I really, really loved this. In fact, I ate a LOT of it. The rest of the family, not so much. If you love avocados, you’ll love this, too. If you don’t, scroll down quickly.
Avocado and Tomato Salad
4 cups avocados, diced medium
2 cups grape tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups cucumbers, peeled and diced medium
1 cup red onion, diced small
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh black pepper
Lettuce (if you want)
Toss all ingredients in a bowl and top on a bed of lettuce (if desired)
Makes 8 servings
Calories 201.9 Total Fat 17.9 g Sodium 10.2 mg Total Carbohydrate 11.6 g Dietary Fiber 5.8 g Sugars 1.8 g
Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake from Hungry Jack
When I think of coffee cake, I think of my grandma. Every time we went to her house, we got to have coffee cake. With those warm fuzzies in mind, all I had to hear was “chocolate” in connection with coffee cake, and I was sold. This recipe is easy and a hit with my whole family. I made it without the nuts and used light sour cream.
||Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
||2 1/2 cups Hungry Jack® Complete Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix (Just Add Water)
||2 1/2 cups Hungry Jack® Complete Extra Light & Fluffy Pancake & Waffle Mix (Just Add Water)
||1/3 cup sugar
||1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
||1/2 cup water
||1/2 cup sour cream
||1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
||1/4 cup sugar
||1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
||1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
||HEAT oven to 375°F. Coat 8 or 9-inch square pan with no-stick cooking spray.
||COMBINE pancake mix, 1/3 cup sugar and chocolate chips in medium bowl. Add water, sour cream and vanilla. Blend well. Using an ice cream scoop, shape dough into sixteen 2-inch dough balls. Place in 4 rows of 4 each in prepared pan. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, walnuts and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over dough.
||BAKE 24 to 26 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
||To use Hungry Jack® Original Pancake & Waffle Mix (Add Milk, Oil & Eggs), replace 1/2 cup water with 2 large eggs and 2 tablespoons milk. Proceed as above.
||High Altitude: add 1/4 cup flour to dry pancake mix. Bake as directed above.
Prep Time: 12 min
Cook Time: 24 min
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Serving Size (1/8 2 rolls), Calories 290 (Calories from Fat 90), Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 620mg, Total Carbohydrate 47g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 19g), Protein 5g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
#6 School or Office Supply Organizer
I am so proud of myself. I actually made something really useful from Pinterest. I shared this idea in one of my What’s Hot in Homeschooling posts and got to work. I had no idea how popular these things are until I searched “Teacher Toolbox” on Pinterest. Wow! I spray painted mine brown. The one thing you need to know is that you can’t fit full-size pencils in it. Mechanical pencils and many pens work great, however. Filling this up was a trip down memory lane. I have office supplies I bought 20 years ago and never used. If any of you locals need some gold brads, please don’t buy any. I have enough for several elementary schools.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or have your kids tell my kids. That’s always an interesting way to get news.
It’s not been a very hot July, so I should really share cool news. I just visited my mom so she probably isn’t reading this month. Hopefully I can entice the rest of you to read with the recipe reviews at the end. This is what’s been happening with the Psycho family:
July’s page views were up 1,000 from the previous month.
In July, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – my humorous letter that has been Pinterest popular
The Best Places to Buy, Borrow, Sell or Donate Used Homeschool Curriculum – I had used an absolutely awful photo for this post when I wrote it last year. I decided to create a new graphic for it and then pinned it to the Ultimate Homeschool Board on Pinterest and boom. The post received the traffic I hoped it would.
Why Classical Conversations Should be a Part of Your Curriculum – homeschoolers found this post by Googling as they considered options for the upcoming school year. I still believe it’s an excellent, affordable option regardless of your approach and I don’t make anything for saying so.
I am excited that my new iPhone case is emblazoned with my blog graphic. I’m really happy with the price and quality and recommend it to other bloggers.
#2 Other Writing
I have been spending time working on two book projects–just not as much time as I would like. When I can share details with you, I will!
Many of you are following my Christian Inspiration board on Pinterest. I’m excited about that, because not only will you find links to short posts from the Inspired Day, but from several superb Christian bloggers. Comment below if you’d like to be added to the board with the email address you use on Pinterest.
#3 Our International Guest
This photo makes this 16yo boy from Spain look like he has been lounging around on his visit, but that is not the case. He is the son of a friend’s friend and he has been a delight. He has been visiting to experience American culture and improve his English. My son, Sam, has been enjoying the process of improving his Spanish, too. My boys have been taking advantage of our guest’s graciousness to demand that he do everything with them! It’s a challenge for me to tell them to stop because he is giving me a break. We will certainly miss him when he goes home.
#4 Our New Driver
You may recall my terror at having a Permit Driver. Now you can share my fear as Caleb takes to the road with his license. I would be even more thrilled not to have to drive everywhere with him due to his busy social life, but Sam will be getting his permit any day now.
It’s hard to believe that Caleb has just one more year of high school and then he’ll be heading off to college. He has many factors to consider like
rankings, research opportunities, distance from home, study abroad programs, money. He’ll be busy making some decisions about where to apply in the coming weeks.
After considering Sam’s future, we have decided to enroll him in College Plus Prep–the same program Caleb went through. We want to determine if independent study is the best way for him to earn his college degree.
#6 New Recipes
I seriously considered doing a weekly post of new things I’ve tried from Pinterest, but the last thing I need is another obligation. Instead, I’ll include my reviews in this monthly wrap-up when I can.
Clean Eating Zucchini Bread
I want recipes that are whole-grain, low fat, and reduced sugar. So I tried this zucchini bread. Our rating? Too healthy tasting. My friend made a recipe that is a little less healthy and a lot more tasty. When I get her to write it down for me, I’ll post it for you.
Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
I ended up having to tell my husband how to make this over the phone, only to discover we had no lemons. When life hands you no lemons, you make lime garlic chicken. Our Rating? It’s a winner. Makes for very moist, tasty chicken and it’s easy.
BBQ Chicken Empanadas
So it’s abundantly clear that I’m not into food photography, especially here. The truth is I was in a huge hurry when I made these. This recipe was very popular when I pinned it to my Lunch Recipes to Try board. I tried rolling and cutting the dough and discovered that just using two crescent rolls together (and smooshing the perforations which I did very poorly) was the quickest method and made large enough empanadas for my teens. I used low-fat crescent rolls and canned chicken. I combined the chicken with BBQ sauce until it was coated. I sprinkled each with cheese, closed the dough with a fork, and baked. The average rating was an 8. I’d say that’s a winner!
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. My birthday is coming up, so you’re buying. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading. You made my day.
My blogging buddy Tom Dixon does a review of the month on his blog where he shares statistics and news. I so enjoy these posts, that I decided to do one of my own.
What that means is that everyone but my mom can stop reading now. So, Mom, here’s what’s been going on with me:
I merged multiple blogs into this one in October of 2012. (If you don’t know why, read this.) In June, my page views were up 1200% since launch. (Keep in mind that I’ve studied advanced statistics and can make them say anything I want them to.) I am thrilled to have a growing readership, not that you don’t mean the world to me, Mom!
The most popular posts since beginning this blog are:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – a Pinterest winner for me. I am working on improving my pins and growing a following on Pinterest as a result.
Why Classical Conversations Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum – a Twitter winner when Classical Conversations retweeted it
Scarred for Life – a Facebook winner when the shocking photos were all anyone could talk about
In June, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant
Can Mark Forster’s Ultimate Time Management System Help You Get More Done? – readers of Mark Forster’s blog and forum have increased readership of all my time management posts, including the third most popular below
Can Another Simple and Effective Method Help You Get More Done?
#2 Other Writing
The Once-and-for-All Meal Plan Ebook has been downloaded over 2,300 times. Because I don’t have that many email subscribers, my guess is people are sharing the link. I don’t mind, but soon the link will change because the book will be revised. I’m excited about the changes I’ll be making because the plan will be much easier to implement. You’ll be the first to know, Mom!
#3 My Health
I have mentioned in several posts that my health has been poor. The good news is my energy is back to normal. The bad news is I am not symptom-free and I don’t have an easy-to-treat diagnosis. But I can already see how God is using it for good in my life. One way in which that is true is that I am more committed to eating well and serving healthy food. I would dearly love your prayers that I would be well enough to do what God has called me to do and that I would trust Him completely.
#4 My Marriage
I remember a veteran homeschooler sharing at a group meeting many years ago that what she liked most about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around to help out with the kids. And what she liked least about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around…I laughed very loudly because my husband is also self-employed. What’s more is that he has much of the summer off. We’ve learned to deal with our differences, though, and I can honestly say that I love him more than ever after the way he has supported me through my health challenges. We celebrate 21 years of fireworks this week as we were married on the fourth of July.
#5 The Kids
This was a big month for my oldest who has been driving everywhere in our newly purchased used automobile with me in the passenger seat. If you’ve read Permit Driver, you know that I’ve been a bit anxious about him driving. I’m really proud of myself because I’ve made several trips without screaming in terror. I think he just needed that extra time to mature, because he’s really doing great. Mostly.
He also got his first job working for our church. I was so touched when one of the office staff stopped by our house to deliver a cupcake to him on his birthday. Not many employers would do that!
Andy got braces and the youngest kids have been losing teeth like crazy and losing faith in the Tooth Fairy, too. My daughter asked why when she woke up there was no money, but when she went back to make her bed there was. Hm.
Once again, I’ve sworn an oath to do more school in the summer and once again I haven’t kept it. We have done some reviewing, continued with history, and a bit of workbook stuff, but not much else. Here’s part of the problem. The neighbor kids show up at my door and my children look at me as though they haven’t seen them in years and how could I even think of asking them to do school? I’m weak. All my nerve was used up riding around with the permit driver.
I have been using the time to prepare for the fall, however.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. 🙂 Sure, you too, Mom!
Have you ever gotten to the end of a summer and been disappointed? I have, many times.
I’m a homeschooling mom who takes time off in the summer and I hope to get so much accomplished. Somehow very little of it gets done. I’m not talking about the fun activities we always manage to squeeze in (barbecues with friends, float trips, swimming, etc.). I’m talking about the projects I can’t get around to doing the other nine months of the year.
This summer I am determined to have a different outcome. I am so excited about the simple solution to my end-of-summer blues that I want to share it with you. In just three steps, you can make a satisfying summer a reality.
#1 Create a wish list.
Dream a little. What would you love to accomplish this summer? Are there any projects that you’ve procrastinated doing that would feel great to get out of the way? Are there things you could do to make life much easier the rest of the year? Or is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing that you’ve never made time for? Add all of these things to your list. At this point, don’t worry about adding too many things.
Look at your list and combine tasks into weekly projects or areas of focus. For example, would you like to defrost the freezer and clean out the pantry? These tasks can become Organizing or Cleaning. Each weekly project will include a number of tasks required to complete it. My consolidated weekly projects for the summer should give you the idea:
- sort clothing
- sort and sell books
- deep clean
- book project #1
- book project #2
- school prep
- video editing
- freezer cooking
This step is critical to making your summer satisfying. Make a list of each week this summer. Because I start school the second week of August, I have 11 weeks from 5/26 to 8/4. I have assigned each of the above projects to a week. If you will be on vacation for a week, that will be your week’s project. Assign projects to logical weeks. For example, freezer cooking is my last project because I want dinner in the freezer before I start school. Otherwise, start with top priority projects. For me, that’s sorting the kids’ clothing for the season and selling books we no longer need.
Schedule time at the beginning of each day to work on that week’s project. If your schedule doesn’t permit you working at the beginning of the day, make sure you work on these projects during the first part of your work period. Why? You’re more likely to accomplish your wish list if you work on it first.
What if you want to do something that will take more than one week? You can either assign it to more than one week or schedule it on a daily or weekly basis. I will be spending more time than a week each on blogging and book projects, but those weeks I will devote extra time to them.
What if you planned to finish a project in a week and you don’t? I don’t anticipate spending every day of the week on my planned projects. Things come up and I love being spontaneous in the summer. If I spend just one day a week on each of these projects, I will be thrilled! But if it’s really important that you finish a project before moving on to something else, you can definitely edit the schedule. If you have your projects in order by priority, you’d simply move everything back a week and the lowest priority project would be dropped from the summer schedule to be worked on another time.
I can’t wait to hear about the projects you have planned and to see if these steps make this summer a more satisfying one for you. What’s the first project on your list?
I know a little something about writing. Even though I’ve been blogging on and off for a long time, I don’t know how to write a great blog. Or even a better blog. What I do know from experience is how to write a bad one. Here are 31 ways to be sure and write a blog that stops traffic.
- Write long posts. Writers making the transition from print to blog make this mistake often. Unless it’s very compelling content, readers quickly scroll and click on after about 500 words. This post is going to be a bad one. I promise.
- Write daily. The blogging experts love to point out that the most popular blogs are updated at least daily. I think that’s confusing correlation with causation. Before you’re really popular, daily updates can overwhelm readers.
- Write your diary. Many blogs read like a bad journal entry. “Today I went to the gym, did some laundry, and watched TV.” Even on Facebook, that’s not good reading.
- Write old news. Readers want what’s fresh, even if that’s a fresh take on an old issue.
- Write too personally. Reality TV has made it acceptable to bare it all, but there are still plenty of us cringing.
- Write without spell check. If you can’t spell and you post your errors, your readers who can spell are going to focus on them and nothing else.
- Write without regard to grammar. While composing your post in a word processor, pay attention to the error indicators. Here’s a great free online grammar course to get you up to speed.
- Write to get your own needs met. These kinds of blogs come across like needy phone friends who never take a breath.
- Write to invoke guilt. Asking why no one is reading or commenting on your blog is like having BO.
- Write with unnecessary cursing. Even if you are comfortable with cursing, constant repetition of the same words is just bad writing, not to mention bad form when so many are offended by it.
- Write without regard for others’ feelings. Criticizing individuals and bashing entire classes of people may generate traffic, but won’t generate any good will.
- Write what’s controversial just to build your blog. Readers who appreciate honest, thoughtful debate will eventually see through you and move on.
- Write without reading others’ blogs. Just as writers in other genres hone their craft by reading the best writers, so bloggers benefit from reading good blogs.
- Write without building relationships. While traditional writers rarely engaged in relationship building, failing to make connections with readers puts your blog at risk. Responding to comments makes your readers feel appreciated.
- Write without giving credit. If you steal others’ work, you will eventually be called out for it.
- Write without linking to others’ blogs. Bloggers appreciate the links and so do readers who are looking for good content. Here is a great post on this topic. (I need to take this blogger’s advice.)
- Write without providing resources. Giving your perspective on a subject is a great start, but readers want to know where to go for more information. I think 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is a great resource.
- Write without humor. Even blogs on depression can be funny.
- Write about how you spend all your time blogging. Many of your readers are bloggers who will be put off by your obsession, although many will stick around to see the train wreck.
- Write amidst a busy, blinking background. Your readers with ADHD won’t be able to focus on your words and may need an extra dose of medication.
- Write infrequently. If you don’t update your blog, your readers won’t care because you don’t.
- Write like you’re perfect. Readers don’t like to feel like losers. Share your perfect photos of perfect people and places and your blog will be perfectly alone.
- Write like you know it all. This is a shift from traditional writing, too, where experts were supposed to give comprehensive information. Readers like to share, too.
- Write what you want to write about. Freelancers know they can’t sell pieces that readers don’t want. Blogs have to be about the topics your readers are interested in.
- Write without paragraphs. This is equivalent to blending a main dish, sides, and a dessert and serving it up in a bowl. Mmm.
- Write without subheadings or photos. Subheadings and photos are like keeping your foods from touching each other and some of us like that. I was going to add more photos to this post, but it messed up my numbering, so I will leave it as is in the interest of not appearing perfect.
- Write to constantly pitch your products. Blog posts that start off talking about how they’re giving me something “FREE to add value” tell me that the sales pitch is coming soon and it’s a turn off.
- Write sparsely to make room for long audio and video. Many readers (like me!) learn best by reading and don’t want to spend 15 minutes watching something they could learn by reading in five. I always appreciate the content in writing, too.
- Write with links to inappropriate content. Like it or not, readers trust that you are not going to send them to offensive or spammy links. Don’t violate that trust.
- Write without purpose. We have to know why we are blogging and even why we are writing a particular post, or we’re sure to go off the rails.
- What should this one be?
What other mistakes have you seen bloggers make or have you made yourself?