do it yourself (DIY) projects

How I admire those handy Renaissance men and women who can do things themselves. They can make a lamp out of three toothpicks and a light bulb, a lawnmower out of some pipes and a blade, a glove out of half a spool of thread and a dull needle. It’s miraculous, really. And in consideration of practically impractical people like me, they share these DIY projects on the Internet. Hooray!

Of course, I really enjoy DIY projects for a few reasons. One is that I’d like to consider myself thrifty. Economical is the way to go. So if I can use an old worn out t-shirt to make a trendy scarf instead of having to buy a new scarf, then of course I will. Or if I can use hundreds of egg cartons to improve the sound in a room instead of buying expensive equipment, then of course I will (Even though that means I’ll have to eat a lot of eggs. Good thing there are so many ways to cook them.). And then there’s . . .

Okay, so that’s the main reason that I like DIY, but also, getting to try out fun projects helps me gain skills. Yea, practical skills (After you graduate with an English degree and start looking for jobs, you feel a little impractical.) – like using a heavy duty wire cutter to make a leaf wreath. Sounds skillful, right?

Want a leaf wreath? DIY!

the challenge

Start a blog of DIY projects. Showcase all the things you learn how to do. Share what you already know. Include pictures and easy steps for readers.

possible blog names

  • WhyDoIDIY
  • LetsDIYtogether
  • WireCuttingAndOtherSkills
  • DIYorBust

bargains into wares

There’s something I should confess: I am a buyer of books. I glean thrift stores of rare, old, dusty books. You see shelves, I see a deserted island with certain hidden treasure under some lot of ground.

This hobby began a few years ago. I started buying books at thrift stores and reselling them online, namely, on eBay. They may be books on subjects from Indian basket weaving to pipe organ stops – subjects I know little to nothing about. But they are rare finds, small treasures to the discerning eye. I’ve enjoyed finding them, buying them, and turning my bargains into wares.

See some of my recent discoveries:

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the challenge

Start a blog about your bargains into wares. Maybe you buy and sell old cars, books, music, garage sale finds, kitchen appliances, furniture. Whatever your specialty, share your adventures. Maybe this could be a blog that accompanies your eBay or other account and helps potential buyers learn more about your products.

a commentary on Fresh Pressed

Bloggers are like people. Well, in most cases, they are people when you think about it. At least, I like to think so. There are occasional moments when I stumble across those captivating blogs of seemingly larger-than-life people with extraordinary lives. Or, I don’t know, maybe I’m the odd one out. Does everyone just happen to travel to Norway and Cambodia every day, take breathtaking photos, and then upload them to their photo blog for everyone to drool over? (No offense, Casey Arneson. I really just needed an excuse to sneak in a link to your incredible work.) It sure seems like it when you scroll through Fresh Pressed, doesn’t it?

I admit, sometimes Fresh Pressed makes me feel that my life is hypo-ordinary.

Some bloggers have ordinary or perhaps even hypo-ordinary lives, that is lives that are less than ordinary and which can seem to be made a bit more ordinary, at least momentarily, in experiencing the thrill of coining new words (as was recently demonstrated through my use of the word hypo-ordinary). But what makes a blogger’s life or experiences or posts the coveted Fresh-Press-worthy?

the challenge

Start a blog that is a commentary on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed. Make observations about the posts. Why do you think a certain post made it on the homepage? What are some common trends in posts they choose to highlight? Do they refer to pop culture, feature amazing photography, include corny jokes?

possible blog names

  • FreshPressMe
  • FreshPressDontMess
  • BestofFreshPress
  • FreshCommentary

words you mispelled / misspelled / mispeled (?)

We all have that list of sneaky words we always seem to misspell (Don’t forget the two s’s and two l’s.). Spelling these words correctly seems quite (not quiet) elusive, and despite our better judgment (Although the word judge has an “e” at the end, the word judgment is e-less.), we continue to spell them, albeit accidentally, in an unacceptable fashion. Each time, we are conscious (“aware”) of a little voice – a little wordsmith conscience, if you will – pleading within us to become better spellers. 

Surely our poor habits are changeable (Keep the “e.”)! We must discipine (“sc”) ourselves and avoid the harsh embarressment (I myself had to look that one up.) of misspellings. Perhaps we can acquire (which is different from “a choir”) tricks and mnemonic (Don’t you love silent m’s?) devices to help us remember the right spellings. Or perhaps we can spend exhilirating hours in spelling bees, eventually exceeding our own expectations. Perhaps if reading the dictionary is not foreign to us but rather a hobby for our time of leisure (no “z”) then we will guarantee much spelling success for all our days!

Be advised (versus adviced – Is that even a word?). We may not see noticeable (Notice the “e” before the “a.”) results immediately. Occasionally (Argh. I spelled this one incorrectly at first.), there will still be occurrences (double “c” and double “r”) of misspelled words, whether (as opposed to weather) we like it or not. But I strongly recommend that you persevere and experience the personal privilege of spelling correctly.

the challenge

Start a blog that documents your growth as a speller. Initial entries may include samples of your writing at present, as well as a list of words that you struggle to spell correctly. Use later posts to share experiences of spelling correctly and incorrectly. Perhaps take note of when you see misspellings in the world at large.

possible blog names

  • CastingSpells
  • StellarSpeller
  • OneLetterAtATime
  • TheDictionaryIsMyFriend

the name of the game: names

There are several conversations that are almost unavoidable when two individuals meet one another for the first time. The name conversation is one of these.

Dear parents, think about the name conversation when picking out that lifelong title for your tot.

Now sometimes, both people have pretty normal names. In this case, the name conversation may not happen, or only to a mild degree, unless one person is for some reason unusually interested in etymology or, to be more exact, the origin of name meanings.

But other times, one person has a less common name and the other person notices and makes the same comments that every person makes about the less common name, but regardless, the person with the less common name decides to humor the common-name holder and pretend like that’s the first time anyone has said that. For example . . .

Howard: Hey, my name is Howard.

Virginia: It’s nice to meet you. I’m Virginia.

Howard: Virginia, that’s a pretty name. Isn’t that the name of a state?

(I’m sure she’s never heard that one before.)

Virginia: Yea, it’s the name of a state.

(She says, pretending she’s just learned something new about her name.)

Howard: I didn’t do that well in school. Where is it exactly?

(Why don’t Americans know geography? I’m guilty, too.)

Virginia: East of West Virginia.

Howard: Oh. That makes sense. (With sort of a chuckle.) So there are really two states named after you?

(“Oh, you’re clever,” Virginia thinks.)

Virginia: Well, I’m pretty sure they were named before me.

the challenge

Start a blog about names. Each day, post about names you’ve heard for the first time recently, your findings on the origins of the name, details, how you think the names describe the people you’ve met, etc. Or blog about your name. Document the things you learn about it. This could even turn into an ancestry project. Maybe you even hope to live up to your name? Blog about that and your efforts.

possible blog names

  • TheNameoftheGame
  • WhatsInAName
  • LivingUpToMyName

a drawer full of unmatched socks and other great mysteries of life

This morning, I decided to wear socks. It is, however, becoming more and more of a decision, especially when summer, disguised as spring, is already here in the South. (I did pass a billboard the other day that read, “Summer is almost here.” Spring started a week ago, people!)

I am a lover of summer, don’t get me wrong, but in all honesty, I prefer socks to bare feet. I wear socks even around the house. I usually wear socks to bed. My mother can attest to the fact that sometimes I even wear socks outside just because I don’t want to take them off. But socks, much like the Grand Canyon’s formation, are one of the great mysteries of life.

Back at home, we have twice as many baskets for unmatched socks as for the matches. Maybe we should opt for a sock display like this one?

I can give the closest attention to getting each sock in the same load of laundry as its coordinating sock, but regardless, when I shuffle through my drawers on days like today, matches are few and far between. I pulled out about seven individual socks this morning before finding one pair, and of course it was a hole-y pair with non-stretch itchiness.

the challenge

Start a blog about the great mysteries of life, those things that baffle you or leave you in awe. Some, to be sure, are mundane, while others are more extraordinary. Include comments and details about why these mysteries are so . . . mysterious.

possible blog names

  • MysteriesOfLife
  • MatchlessSocks
  • MysteriousToDelirious
  • SockStealingElves

blogging is the most technologically-advanced thing i do: a plea to innovators and early adopters!

I still have a cell phone two versions earlier than the razor. Yea, it flips open, but not in the hip-flip-phone-kind-of way. I don’t own an iPod, or even a decent pair of headphones. I don’t have a Twitter account. Blogging is probably the most technologically-advanced thing I do all day (Sorry, it’s been a while. Don’t you hate when all of your posts have to contain apologies?), and it took me years to start a blog. I was the pitiful classmate always waiting for a tech-savior during glitches in my PowerPoint presentation.

Ever since studying the technology adoption lifecycle years ago in my Intro to Mass Comm class, I’ve envied the innovators and even the early adopters. These are the ones who joined Facebook before it was a thing, the ones who know how to use new operating systems before they’re even officially released. They could easily list PhotoShop as their second language.

Oh, why have the gods of technology cursed me so?

The technology adoption lifecycle, modified to include the latest of the late, a.k.a. me.

the challenge

So, if you’re one of those 2.5% of innovators, or even if you’re an early adopter, start a blog about it. Post how-to’s for the rest of us. Share your expertise, your wanderings and explorations in the technology universe. Teach us where to buy, what to look for, how to do cool stuff with our gadgets. Help us out.

possible blog names

  • ForTheLaggards
  • InvitationToInnovation
  • TechnifyUs