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:

HOMETALK, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, GOOGLE +, INSTAGRAM

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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48 Comments

  1. Congrats, Carrie! That’s awesome! Oh, and what do your friends think? They think that you definitely deserve to be spotlighted for your talents and absolutely love reading your blog!!! 🙂

    1. You’ve been my biggest fan, N, and I love you anyways but it makes me even more thankful for you. Now if I can just figure out a way to entice you to OBX in May…

  2. I love you! This is a fantastic post. This is why you are one of my favorite bloggers and favorite people. You are a gem!

    I also just sent you an e-mail 10 minutes ago that sounds almost exactly like this except not as eloquent.

    Ginger

  3. thanks for sharing your story and your start!! I enjoyed your post today and look forward to following along.

  4. Hi Carrie!
    Loved reading this. Maybe it will even encourage me to do the stupid posts about my bathroom renovation – that I haven’t done because I haven’t found the right towels to go in the bathroom!!??!!
    We may be cut from the same cloth!
    See you in August, Friend!
    -b.

    1. I know, b! Darn perfectionism! Post about your bathroom, and then when you find the right towels post about THAT. I’m looking forward to see you at Haven!!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing, Carrie! Loved your post 🙂 Your kids are so cute and you totally made me laugh. 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed reading this today and learning more of your story – and I loved the giggles in between as well. Take care, Laura

  7. So thrilled for you Carrie! Great advice, too. I never saw either of your two best projects so I’m off to check them out – love that plant wall!!!

    You have a wonderful blog and the cutest family I’ve ever seen. Kudos to hubby for his support of your blog. You lucky, lucky lady!!

    xox

  8. I LOVED every.single.word of this Carrie!!! So fun to get to know you better and I seriously cracked up over your Downton “tip”. LOL! Love that you threw that in there and completely agree with you. 🙂 As a stay-at-home mom with young-ish kids I related to so much of what you shared and think that your advice about staying true to your mission/passion is spot on. Thanks so much for sharing this with us and congrats on being In the Bloglight today!
    Vanessa

  9. You’ve got your priorities straight on, and I bet you make excellent lemonade because of it.

    Bliss

  10. Congrats on the Spotlight! I loved reading your blogging story Carrie! And I am so glad your daughter recovered and is doing well. 🙂
    I can totally relate to so much of what you said here! It was so nice to hear it!!! Your last bullet point is a stickler for me and one I’ve been trying hard to work on. I am new (November) so hopefully I will relax a little and become more comfortable with blogging about other than a full, finished tutorial! 😉
    xo
    Nancy

    1. 3.5 years blogging, it’s it’s a stickler for me too Nancy! It’s my goal for 2013, we’ll keep encouraging each other to work on it. 🙂

  11. Beautiful feature Carrie! I loved learning about you and your wonderful journey as a mother and a blogger!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Cynthia

  12. Congrats on the feature. How exciting!!! I’m following along now AND I’ve just begun to watch downton abby! LOL! You are funnny and creative. Just what a coocoo momma needs.

  13. Congratulations on being in the Bloglight. I enjoyed your story. It sounds like your daughter is a little miracle. We have a grandson who was born Nov. 30th and still hospitalized, but coming home soon. He’s ouir little miracle. Great blogging advice. laurie

    1. Laurie, I started a foundation that provides Care Bags to NICU families called Team Abby Foundation. Sounds like he’s doing really well, but if I can support you in any way please let me know!

  14. What a fabulous heartfelt post! So happy your daughter is healthy as well!!!
    Enjoy the rest of your week.
    Kristin

  15. Congratulations Carrie! You’re in the Philly suburbs? I used to live in Center City before we moved here to southern NJ! I love your outlook on life and family, as well as your outlook on blogging too. Thanks for the helpful tips, too! You rock!

  16. What a wonderful story! I’ve only recently discovered your blog through Hometalk and I can’t wait to see your kitchen post now. Backsplash or not!!! 😉 Thanks for sharing your “advice to yourself 3 years ago”. There are some great nuggets of wisdom in there that I am borrowing from your ‘old’ self! And I totally know what you mean about the Downtown Abbey hangover…I’ve only recently recovered. Have a great day Carrie!

  17. Awesome advice for newbies and good reminders for those more experienced, too! Side note: you made me chuckle out loud with the peacocks and measuring stick, and now people are looking at me. Gah!

  18. Congrats Carrie! What a great family picture you have there! 😉

    Great post! You deserve it.

  19. Hi Carrie! Congrats on the feature!! It’s my first time visiting here (from blogtalk) and I can already tell I’m going to stay a while! I love your story and can’t wait to read more of your lovely posts! Definitely a new fan of Making Lemonade…XO

  20. Of course I love that you’re a Philly girl (I grew up nearby) and I loved learning more about you.

    Agree about the whole don’t blog just to blog (although I was going to do a post on 1,001 ways to decorate with shamrock covered peacocks – think I should bag that one?!

    Your kids are adorable – so glad your daughter is happy and healthy – and you’ve got your priorities in order! Continued success to you!
    Kelly

  21. What a great post, Carrie! I simply adore your blog and it’s so great to get to know you a little better. I especially love your tips – they are great for a beginner blog like me! Thank you thank you!

  22. What a fresh, fun post! I full heartedly agree with you on every word. Be authentically you and enjoy the ride! Even if it isn’t pin worthy. 🙂

  23. I read every word and it totally just made me love you and your blog even more. I’m really digging your refined mission to help people create a home that works for their family. That junk SPEAKS to me. This post was solid gold, my friend!

  24. Hi Carrie! Great post and congrats on being featured! I just joined blogtalk this week and am trying to get to know everyone. Love your blog and your story. Congrats again. ~ Angie

  25. Oh my…how I loved reading this post…your story…your words of wisdom…and thanks for the laughs too..I so totally related to the “not making the doilies”…Congrats on “being in the Bloglight”….your blogging story is such an inspiration!

  26. What a joy to get to know you better and great advice too. Congratulations on being in the Bloglight,Carrie!

  27. This is so, so great!!! I love hearing more about your journey and your new, refined tagline and mission are spot on. So nice to get to know you a little better!! Can’t wait to reconnect at Haven!!

  28. Are you talking to me? I feel like you’re talking to me. Just coming up on one year of blogging, and I’m in a super reflective mode. Just wanted you to know that your post really spoke to me and some things I’m struggling with/reflecting on at the moment.

    And, of course, you made me laugh. Especially that part about Downton Abbey. Do you have a Downton hangover from your pre-finale binge?

    1. YES! I have such a pre-finale hangover. By the time I got the finale I wasn’t shocked at all, because I was so emotionally spent from the one that happened a few weeks ago. I think I’ll need the entire break to recover, ha! I’m so glad the post spoke to you, that means the world to me…

  29. I just had to stop by to read this when I saw you were fellow Philly area gal. So glad I did… you have such a great story and tell it so well! I’m hooked! And thanks for the advice… couldn’t have come at a better time. Congrats on your success!!

      1. Coatesville- which is about halfway between KOP and Lancaster… perfectly situated to shop either outlets or mega-mall 😉 Blogging is such a big world it’s nice to discover someone in the area!

  30. I loved reading your story. You have a beautiful and approachable writing style – just seemed like I was hearing from an old friend. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll definitely be following your blog!

  31. Hi Carrie! I LOVE it!!! AND, I read the ENTIRE thing! Just so you know! Thanks for all the great advice! Congrats on being chosen to be in the spotlight this week! I loved learning more about you! Hugs!!

  32. Love it! I heart what you said and so agree. Congrats on the spotlight.

  33. Carrie, I loved reading your journey, how fresh and fun. You’ve done a great job with your blog, very happy for you. Love your writing voice too! I know we met, right, but hope to see you again at Haven. I wish I could sit down with all of you and get to know you better.

    1. Thanks, Rhoda. We met very briefly at Haven– I did what I said I’d never do and accosted you after a session (haha!) I’m going to Haven again this year, and as you said, I’m not sure how I’m going to find the time to see everyone that I want to. But moments have a way of finding themselves, so perhaps we’ll all sit down for an impromptu coffee or breakfast together at some point. Thanks again for your kind words and also for organizing such an amazing conference!

  34. Loved this post and learning more about you. (Visiting from blogtalk). I believe we all have a story to share and some of us write about that journey as well as the ways we try to beautiful our lives and homes. We adopted 3 siblings and have 5 children. Our story has not been pretty a lot of the time but I write about the transformation God is doing in all of our lives. I love transparency and connection and appreciate the things you shared today. Hope your blog continues to be a success!
    Marty@Marty’s Musings

    1. Thanks for your kinds words, Marty. Adoption has always been a dream of mine. Kids truly redefine the meaning of a ‘beautiful’ home in various ways, don’t they?!

  35. Hi Carrie, visit your site for the first time from blogtalk and just wanted to say congrats on the feature and read your story. I’m so glad your daughter is well now and your family can move forward!! What a great way to find an outlet to function and get through such a difficult time and how it led you toward blogging about your passions. Such awesome helpful blogging tips, as well. I’m new and quite overwhelmed most of the time. Congrats, again, and thank you for your story!

  36. Carrie, Thank you so much for telling me all the things I needed to hear. How did you know? I actually looked around to make sure you werent sitting beside me–thats what an impact your words have had. I was “measuring” myself against other blogs–longer-standing and very established–and I shouldn’t. I need to offer what I have, and what I love and stop worring about what others will think, or whats popular or working for the rest of the wonderfully talented bloggers in this world. I thank you for helping me realize that!

    You have a beautiful family. Your children are adorable! I have two daughters one 35 and one 32, 4 beautiful grandchildren (and a new one on the way!) and an amazing extended family. My husband and I have been together since I was 15 and I still love him to bits (when I don’t want to stab him with a fork!). Its a weird time in my life–Im nearly 56 and for the first time I have a little extra time (although most of it is taken up caring for my mom) for me and like you, the “sparkly” has me scattered all over the place! So many things I want to do! I guess I will stop worrying and enjoy the ride. Keep doing what your doing, God Bless you and your family, Blessings, Karen

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