Tag Archives: Blogging

A new day, a new name for ye olde blog

You might have thought I dropped off the face of the earth, but in fact, I’m simply crawling the face of the Earth now.

In an RV.

Not actually the one in the updated header for this blog. A different recreational vehicle. This picture features the tried-and-true 1983 Pace Arrow in which we traveled many happy miles.

[If you’re a subscriber who is enjoying this post in your email In Box, this is the header image I’m talking about.]

cropped-rv-004.jpg

We own a different camper now. A slightly newer model that we like to call “home.” Because, yes, we sold the house. The house otherwise known as the millstone around our necks that I spent five months emptying of its contents. Not a big fan of home ownership nowadays (oh, you can bet you’ll hear about it but probably in another post on another day). I’m sure I’ll own another house filled with Costco-sized quantities of quinoa and paper towels. Just not right now.

So yes, without roots, I can hardly be a transplant, now can I? So I’m calling this blog Minnesota Wonderer. [Subscribers, you’re going to have to visit the blog to see this. The name has changed, but the url hasn’t; you can still find me at minnesotatransplant.wordpress.com. And, to complete the transition, I updated my About page, too. In my new description, I got to use the word “vagabond,” which is pretty exciting to a logophile.]

Wonderer is a perfect homonym to describe what happens here. Because I do wonder. I wonder about a lot of things. But I also wander. So you’ll still get a lot of philosophical yarns but you’ll also be reading about tiny living and traveling, too, which I hope makes this blog more appealing to you, not less.

Stay tuned. Because you wonder what’s gonna happen next.

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Key to blogging longevity: Fingers on keyboard

You know that saying “if you want to get something done, ask a busy person”? It applies to writing and blogging, too, at least for me.

Busy bloggers write more.

That’s what I’ve learned from two blogging experiences this year.

I’ve had a spotty year in terms of daily blogging. I did a decent job of showing up regularly in January, May and November, but in the other nine months of the past year, I posted only 20 times, which is less than once a week.

Previous to 2016, I was a blogging fiend, and in eight years here, I’ve posted 1,934 times (for an annual average of 242). Not bad for a casual blogger.

In May of this year, after three months of poor work, I pledged to myself to post a blog entry every day.

And I did! Yay, me! But I realized I hadn’t written one word on the manuscript I was working on. So I promised myself I wouldn’t write a blog post unless I did at least a little work on my book (I guess I do a lot of self talk,  huh?).

Epic fail. I only wrote five entries from June to October.

So I made a new promise in November, which is when writers everywhere celebrate NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. The stated goal is to get 50,000 words down on paper. Writers everywhere are racing to the finish Right. Now.

I figured if some people could write 50,000 words (or 1,666 a day), I could shoot to write something. Every. Day. No matter what.

As we say farewell to November, I accomplished my goal, writing 15,525 words this month (averaging more than 500 a day). Between this blog, my author blog and my photo organizing blog, I’ve posted every day. And I finished my work-in-progress manuscript and sent it off to my editor!

My success only proves Newton’s Law that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion and bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. My slothfulness this summer just cultivated more of the same, but my creative spark tended to stay lit when I fed the fire.

Admittedly, some days’ writing is better than others. But you know what they say: Eighty percent of success if showing up.

Here’s to showing up.

 

2015 blogging by the numbers

I just got my annual report from WordPress.com and the verdict’s in: Readership is down.

Of course, it hasn’t helped that I haven’t posted since early November. I’ve got a great excuse, which I can’t get into now, but seriously, what I’ve been doing since early November is worthy of a book, never mind a blog.

In any case, Minnesota Transplant had 12,059 clicks in 2015, down from 15,495 in 2014. It’s a trend. The high point for me in blog readership was 2012 (26,720 views). The truth is, I write for me (and Mom, let’s be honest), not so much for greater blogging public. Having a blog forces me to think about my life in a different way and Write. It. Down. Which is great practice for someone who thinks herself a writer.

Here’s an excerpt from the annual report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The busiest day of the year was June 20th with 122 views. The most popular post that day was Hung up on hangers.

Really? Those before-and-after photos are golden.

Where did readers come from? That’s 87 countries in all! Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & United Kingdom were not far behind.

Whatever the numbers say, I say “Thank you.” Thank you for reading. Thank you for being interested. Thank you for hanging in there through the dry times. And here’s to a rich, thought-provoking 2016!

Seven things I’ve learned in seven years of blogging

Congratulations to me! Today is the seventh anniversary of writing a blog. I posted my first entry exactly seven years ago today when I wrote rather plainly about a visit from Mom and Dad and the end of autumn.

blogging lessons

On this auspicious occasion, I’m sharing seven things I’ve learned from this exercise:

1. Think hard about your brand before you begin.

I spent a lot of time in the month before beginning my blog settling on a name. I finally went with the blog title you’ve come to love because I thought it vague enough to permit me to write about a lot of topics, yet specific enough to describe my world view. And thus was born Minnesota Transplant.

2. Know why you’re writing.

I haven’t gotten rich in seven years, at least not in terms of financial windfall. But like a true writer, I can’t not write. I am compelled to create. And this is the forum in which I can be creative.

The purpose of my blog, first and foremost, is to record my daily doings for the people I love who now live two states away, primarily my parents and sister. Writing a post is a little like writing a letter, and I know my long-distance family gauges my well-being by what I post. Fortunately for me and my ego, a lot of other friends and acquaintances have found a place in my audience, too (see those stats over there in my sidebar? 1,813 followers and 127,318 hits and counting to be precise).

3. Playing small ball pays off. Eventually.

In seven years, I’ve written 1,845 posts here. Plus, I wrote 116 posts on Monica Lee, my author and writing blog, and another 116 entries on Clickago Storywerks, the blog about my photo organizing business (not subscribing to those? get thee over there to remedy that situation). On average, that’s 299 posts a year, or nearly six posts a week.

Pretty impressive. At least to me.

In order to write that kind of volume, I subscribe to the motto “Showing up is 90% of success.” I know that not every post is stellar literary fodder. But once a week or so, I write something really great, and I do that by trying to write something really great every day.

 4. Don’t conform.

This is a personal blog, not a business blog, so this lesson definitely doesn’t apply to you money-makers out there. But one rule I break every day is staying on point. I write about literally everything from books to fitness and recipes to aging. Even when I participate in WordPress’s weekly photo challenges, I write a lot of words to go along with my photography. Because I can. I’m in charge, and I enjoy thinking outside the box. And that freedom is what keeps me coming back to the keyboard.

5. There’s no accounting for taste.

I’ve written some amazing bits in seven years — stuff I love for the writing and the meaning. But my popular posts have been a book review of In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, a recipe for Who Hash and an analysis of what teachers are paid at my stepson’s high school.

Apparently, those posts have answered big questions for people living with covertly aggressive people, cooks who are also fans of Dr. Seuss and taxpayers (or possibly student teachers).

6. Be nice.

I know some angry bloggers might get a lot of attention, but I don’t need any more meanies in my life. Early on, I posted something depressing and pissy. My father encouraged me to rethink that attitude. The world is filled with enough pissiness without me adding to it. So when I’m angry, at least I try to be clever. But most of the time I try to count my blessings, and an attitude of graditude makes my blog — and my life — richer.

7. Blogging preserves time.

If there’s one life change I’d like to experience from writing my blog, it’s a book deal (I mean, who wouldn’t?), but I’ve already gotten a gift. The very act of thinking about a topic cements it into my memory banks. I rarely feel like time is slipping through my fingers.

Like a diary or journal, I can look back on blog posts and remember small events in my life. And that’s what life is made up of: Small things.

So, there you go … seven years of blogging, seven lessons. And today marks the beginning of another seven years. Yay, me.

Another chapter in the microwave story

The first microwave I ever used was an enormous box of a thing that required its own rolling stand. Because back then, in the ’80s, microwaves were trendy new additions to one’s kitchen and there was nowhere else to house them.

I was fortunate back then as the daughter to a television store owner. We got all the trendy electronics — like console TVs and room-size microwaves — ahead of the curve so that Dad could speak intelligently about their features to potential buyers.

Those trendy new microwaves made obsolete the joys of inflatable Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove top. Microwave popcorn popped into the collective consciousness for good.

Just stand back so you don’t get zapped by the microwave rays.

Kidding! Microwaves are perfectly safe, dontcha know? Seriously, though, don’t try to hard boil an egg in one.

Unlike Betamax VCRs, microwaves had staying power. Nowadays, I use the microwave (housed neatly above my stove) for all kinds of things.

Like heating my lukewarm coffee.

OK, there’s more than that, but that task is essential.

Except when the microwave is broken.

Strangely, this house has entertained more than it’s fair share of broken microwaves. I mean, we’ve lived here eight years so one microwave on the fritz is probably likely. But three times?

Yes.

Apparently, I am hard on microwave ovens. All that microwave popcorn, I guess.

On the bright side, my inoperable microwaves have provided a lot of blog fodder:

  • Oct. 22, 2009: In “Microwave Meltdown” I lament my inoperable Advantium oven. (Alas, she was a good one. I miss her still.)
  • Feb, 2, 2010: I lamented the short-lived latch repair of my old Advantium in “Boughtworst” (I just love clever titles that mean nothing to anyone but me — take that, SEO!). Time for a new microwave.
  • March 5, 2010: And for good measure, ye olde Advantium was harder to get rid of than we hoped in “Just when we though we were through with this microwave.”

So we’ve made it five-and-half-years on the Advantium replacement, some no-name cheapie microwave that fulfilled its one-year warranty and then some. About a month ago, it quit. The little imp. It pretended to work, but the coffee came out as lukewarm as ever. So we drove to Home Depot (because we couldn’t wait a week for Amazon to deliver — talk about impatient!) to check out the selection. Black? White? Stainless? Endless options and features? We were tempted by the convection option but not her price. So we settled on another no-name cheapie option.

Why? Because we like replacing microwaves, I guess. I mean theoretically, microwaves are supposed to last nine years (so saith Google) and so theoretically, our next microwave should last 12 years (isn’t the law of averages a law for a reason?) and surely we’ll be able to foist our cheapie microwave on the unsuspecting new owners of this house by then, right?

God, I hope so.

But if not, at least I’ll have something to blog about.

All’s quiet on the western front

Someone asked me the other day what’s new, and I was dumbfounded.

Actually, two someone’s asked me the same question while I was making my way through the chiropractor’s office, and I was just as flummoxed the second time as I was the first.

If I was a normal suburban mom with kids going back to school, I might have said, “Oh, my oldest is a senior this year! Look out, senioritis here we come!”

But I only live in the suburbs, I don’t procreate here.

If I had a real job, I might have said, “Half-day summer Fridays are almost over! Back to a real schedule!”

But the only work I do most days is not paid work, so bitching about the end of half-days rings kind of hollow, and no one cares that I finally defrosted the freezer compartment but only because the error message on the front panel wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I plugged and unplugged the fridge.

If I was a gardener, I might have said, “Garden is growing like crazy! Need any cucumbers or zucchini?”

But to say I garden when all I really do is harvest would be insincere, and if I bother to pick any bounty, you can bet I’m going to use it myself or let it sit in my overstuffed fridge until I forget about it and it becomes fuzz-covered mush.

I mean, the truth is, nothing’s new. Absolutely, positively nothing.

Well, nothing worth talking about. Or blogging about.

The broccoli-apple soup I made the other day was sort of disappointing (do not, I repeat, do not believe the internet recipes that suggest fresh lemon juice in your broccoli-apple soup is a good idea; my Beloved would tell you the very concept of broccoli-APPLE soup is not a good idea). I’m addicted to caramelized onions lately, but I don’t really have anything new to add to the conversation (use butter and sauté over low heat, just like everyone tells you).

The dog, as cute as she is, hasn’t done anything out-of-the-ordinary adorable lately, and the shenanigans of my Adored stepson are probably not my business to share.

I cleaned out the cabinet above the toilet the other day, but that didn’t even merit a good before-and-after picture.

Nope, haven’t seen any good TV shows or movies. One of the books I’m reading, Autobiography of a Fat Bride by Laurie Notaro is wearing thin and not as funny as I had hoped. The weather’s been, well, kind of hot, punctuated by rainstorms. Pretty much standard issue for August in northern Illinois.

If I was just a little bit older and a little bit weirder, making me eschew social customs, I could have come up with some really depressing answers for “What’s new?” People I care about are feeling poorly, a business deal in which I was involved went south and to be honest with you, my sinuses are draining like mad and I’ve gone my whole life without being one of those whiny allergy sufferers, and here I am, allergic to something in the air when I’m about to turn 49. Frankly, this getting older stuff is bullshit, I’ll tell ya.

But I’m not in my late 60s and I’m way too Minnesota Nice to answer any “How are you?” question with anything but “Fine.”

Still, it’s stupid to say, “I’m fine” when someone asks you “What’s new?”

So, I sputtered and stuttered and finally said, “Nothing. Nothin’ new with me. How about you?”

An argument for summer reading

I’m way behind on my reading goal for the year (63 books, remember?!) so instead of writing a proper post, I’m going to go read and leave you with this quote:

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

~ Oscar Wilde