Shining in the Bloglight!

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Hometalk is shining the Bloglight on us today, friends!  That’s right, Hometalk picked Making Lemonade to feature this week and I’m all giddy and fangirl over it.  Miriam (the community director over on Hometalk) sent some questions to get me dishing about my blogging journey and all things lemonade.  So here it is– the good, the hard, and the sparkly (huh?  read on).

Hometalk Bloglight

Wait, what?  Some of you don’t know about Hometalk yet?  I’m a newbie on there myself, so I’m hoping you’ll hold my hand and explore this awesomeness together.  Straight to the point, Hometalk is a fabulous website with user submitted ideas about DIY, home repairs, decorating, gardening, and more.  You can submit ideas {very easily, might I add} whether you are a blogger or not, which means experts in all areas are sharing projects and advice.  It’s like one big house party, minus the sub-woofers.

Now, let’s get to the FAQ and see what the Making Lemonade life is really like.

Carrie from Making Lemonade
So, this is me.

How did you get into blogging?

It started in a really hard way.  Early in July of 2008, my daughter’s umbilical cord ruptured during delivery.  I started a private blog to keep family and friends updated on her prognosis, and found writing was incredibly cathartic.  After a tough but wonderful year of miraculous recovery for my daughter, I decided to share our story and explore my love of home design and DIYing on a blog.  In August of 2009, I hit ‘publish’ on my first post.  A month afterwards, I found I was pregnant with baby #2– and, oh, that’s the same week we weaned our daughter from her feeding tube.  Life doesn’t always dish out what we expect when we expect it, so we embraced it the best we could and enjoyed the ride!

Hometalk Bloglight

How did you choose the name of your blog?

I started with a blank sheet of paper and asked myself a few questions: What did I love?  What defined me at that moment?  What was my blog going to be about?  How did I see myself, and my family?  Immediately a theme emerged and Making Lemonade was born.  We’d certainly been dealt some sour lemons but instead of wallowing in our grief and current situation, we tried our very best to shine light on the good and not the bad.  Plus, I’ve been a life long lemon lover and the idea of a blog filled with pretty lemon pictures made me happy.  I needed a fresh start, and lemons symbolized that for me.

Hometalk Bloglight
my little lemon lover

What’s blogging life like now?

Ha.  Here’s an example of my blogging life.  Since my husband is traveling tonight and this post is due, I popped in a 30 minute Thomas the Train DVD for the kids (aged 2 and 4).  My 2 year old looked at me and said, “snuggle me mama?” and crawled into my lap.  As he snuggled in, he looked up and said, “you’re such a nice mama.  You are sweet.”

Hometalk Bloglight

CRAP.  You’d better believe I snuggled with him for the entire DVD.  Which means I’m typing this at 10PM and in a brain fog, probably making no sense and distracted by shiny things.

:: oooh, look, something sparkly!  ::

Hometalk Bloglight
my Restore chandelier with sparkly stars

But that’s my life.  My blog’s main mission is creating a home you love that fits YOUR family.  I feel the same way about blogging– crafting I blog I love that around the needs of my family.  I feel incredibly blessed to be earning an income doing something I love, but I’ll admit it’s frustrating to not be able to do all the projects in my ‘to do’ list or work on the blog as much as I’d like. I mean, my galleries up at the top are still blank and I don’t even have ‘pin me!’ images in my sidebar.  I suck at promotions, basically.  These little things are reflections of the bigger things I don’t have time to do (I mean, I finished my kitchen renovation in JULY and haven’t had time to blog about it yet!) but that’s what keeps me humble and motivated, too.

It’s a journey, and I’m working hard to embrace this season in life knowing the days are long but the years are short.  Blogging has brought me many blessings and it’s truly something I love to do, but not as much as I love my kids so they come first.

What do your family and friends think?

Here’s the truth of it: at first, I didn’t tell them.  I confided in a few people that I’d started a blog because I never wanted my family and friends to think I expected them to read it.  And truthfully, I was a little embarrassed.  None of my other friends had blogs, and the last thing I wanted was to be seen as an attention-lover.  But I felt I had a story to share, and being a stay-at-home mom meant I was aching for creative ways to stay sane.  Slowly, the blog spread and little by little various friends and family members have discovered I’ve been doing it.  They’ve been incredibly supportive and wonderful, so I haven’t regretted coming out of the blogging closet at all.

And that guy, down there?  The really cute one by my side?  He’s supported me 100%.  His job keeps him running from one side of the country to the other and across the ocean as well, but his support has been unwavering.

Hometalk Bloglight

Which post brought you the post traffic to date?

In my three years of blogging, the #1 post has been these simple paper Christmas trees I made on a whim:

Simple Christmas Craft

They were featured in a roundup by Everything Etsy that got pinned a bazillion times.  I can’t thank them enough for that little feature, it brought in my most traffic to date and even if I tried I’m sure I’d never get on that list again.  The second highest traffic has been to this vertical herb garden post.  I published it just as the vertical gardening trend hit big, and then it got featured by Centsational Girl (my crush) and Apartment Therapy.

vertical herb garden trellis wall

The photos from that first post make me cringe, because a year later I gave my deck an update and everything is actually looking a thousand times better!

deck makeover, deck furniture

What advice would you give to other bloggers that you wish you’d known?

I don’t want to sound preachy, so read this in a voice of ME telling this to the ME of three years ago, not to YOU, because YOU are a rockstar that totally knows it already.  If you know what I mean. (it’s now 11PM.  I realize my ramblings are getting fuzzier by the minute).

  • Find your mission, and stick to it… mostly.  When I moved my blog to Wordpress just before the holidays I redefined my tagline (freshly squeezed ideas for house and home) and mission (creating a home you love that fits this season of your life).  “Finding my why” was the best thing I did in my 3 years of blogging.  Don’t let it stamp down your creativity, though.  I sometimes publish a totally off-the-cuff random post, and often those end of being my favorites!
  • Find your tribe.  Surround yourself with people who will be open, honest, and supportive.  Stay away from groups that make you feel badly about yourself or your blog.
  • Don’t define your successes with someone else’s measuring stick.  {WTH is a measuring stick?  The word ‘ruler’ sounds so flat, so let’s go with measuring stick like it’s 1853 or something}.  Compare yourself to your goals and not what someone else deems important.
  • Don’t try a trend or decorate for a holiday or try to create a pin that will go viral if it’s not 100% authentic to you.  If you don’t love Valentine’s Day, then put down the doilies.  You don’t need to cover your home in shamrocks or write posts with ‘100 ways to decorate with peacocks’ if that’s not who you are.  You’ll find much more success in defining your own style and sticking with it than emulating others.  {in other words, go get ’em, girl!} {sidenote: I freaking LOVE peacocks.}
  • Find a posting schedule that works for you.  I’m finally in a groove of 3 posts a week.  Any more than that and I don’t have time to sleep, and any less and my fingers start itching and I begin writing blog posts in my dreams.
  • Watch Downton Abbey from the start.  Trying to catch up in time for the finale gives you a major Downton hangover.  That’s not at all blog related, just general life advice.
  • You can still monetize a blog without tons of pageviews.  More pageviews make it way easier, but there are still great brands and agencies that understand smaller blogs can pack a lot of punch and it’s a joy to work with them!
  • On that note, don’t sell out for a bag of chips.  If you do this for awhile, and you work hard, you will get offers.  You are valuable.  Your time is valuable.  Staying true to yourself and your blog’s mission will be 1000 times more beneficial than posting about something you wouldn’t personally endorse.
  • Blogger is free, which is great.  But GAH, if you are serious about blogging start off on Wordpress and save yourself the headaches and expense of a move later on down the road.
  • Let go of perfectionism.  Not all posts need to be long, or full of instructions, or ‘pin worthy’.  Find ways to micro-blog about things you enjoy.  AND POST ABOUT YOUR KITCHEN RENOVATION EVEN IF THE BACKSPLASH ISN’T DONE YET, YOU NUTJOB!  <——— yelling at myself here

When I’m not blogging and snuggling and staying up way past my bedtime, I’m here:


Who am I kidding.  Those links are what makes me stay up way past my bedtime.

Huge thanks to Hometalk for ‘bloglighting’ me today.  For some reason, reflecting on my blogging journey lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.  Letting my light shine felt refreshing even if I lost half of you at the part about sparkly things.  Can’t wait to dig into Hometalking with everyone, and thanks for letting me ramble on and on!

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