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
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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

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

needless guides for miscellaneous tasks

the need for needless guides

I make my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the same way. Every time. Put the bread out on a napkin. Spread the peanut butter over the piece on the left side (Why the left side? I don’t know.), avoiding the very outer edges. Plop the jelly (Well, I prefer preserves really.) in the center of the slice on the right, spreading it out but still leaving the majority in the center. Merge. Consume. The true test of if I got enough jelly or not is if some falls out while I’m eating. If it doesn’t fall out, then I didn’t put enough jelly.

Sandwiched between the “big” and “important” things we do each day are the small, almost trivial tasks, along with the small decisions about how we will perform those tasks. Whether it’s making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, selecting a table to sit in at a restaurant (Booth or not?), naming your pet Bactrian camel (Bactrian camels, as opposed to dromedary camels, have two humps.), getting lost effectively, cleaning out the multicolor-fungus-infected leftovers in the back of your refridgerator, or holding an olympic pillow fighting tournament, you have your own way of doing things. And some of us need your expertise. But maybe there’s also just a joy of analyzing how we do the small tasks.

I like booths better, and I'm becoming pretty effective at getting lost.

challenge

Start a blog of needless guides for the miscellaneous tasks that fill your life. Maybe you’re a writer or a computer geek or an equestrian. Give guides for those skills you have. Or maybe you have no specialty, but you have cute, peculiar ways of doing the random. Or maybe you want to learn new and interesting ways of doing things. Or maybe you’re an excellent people-watcher and you can simply record the ways that you see people doing things or even let the blog be a documentation of sorts of what people say when you ask them how/why they do these small things.

possible blog names

  • AndOtherNeedlessGuides
  • HowtoDoSmallThings
  • ThisisHowYouDoThat
  • GettingLostEffectively
  • BigSmallDecisions

not everyone gardens and wears dresses (part 3)

Ok, it’s finally here, dear readers. The last part of my seemingly endless (but supposed to be painless and easy) steps for starting a blog. Today we’ll wrap up with the last two steps.

6. Land somewhere. I probably don’t have to tell you that there are zillions of options when it comes to blogging websites! So how do you know where to land?

  • WordPress – My blogging experience is largely limited to WordPress. But that leads me to option #1. There’s a reason I chose WordPress, and if you’re reading most of the Best Blogging Platforms lists, then you’ll see that it’s always on or near the very top. You don’t have to be an Internet genius to set up camp here because of all the great templates and easy-to-use features, but you can still personalize and customize if you wish. If you want your own domain name (i.e. minus the wordpress.com part in the address), you can have it for just over $15 a year.
  • Blogger – Okay, it’s owned by Google, it’s user-friendly for the most part, and even though one drawback is the small number of templates available, you can link your blog with AdSense and make money when readers click on ads you’ve approved. 
  • Others and Microblogs – MovableType, Xanga, Twitter, Weebly, Blogsome

So, this is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I tried to include some of the most reputable platforms that offer free blogging accounts. As always, do your research and see which formats seem to fit you (This might be another time to go back and look at all those blogs you bookmarked earlier.). For example, Weebly is much more complex, which the techies might enjoy, but if you were looking for somewhere to type up and publish quickly and without much behind-the-scenes work, then WordPress would probably be more up your alley.

Somewhere, there's a stadium's worth of people just waiting to read from you.

7. Blog. Oh, finally. Step 7 is here. Our journey is complete. Well, sorta. See, step 7 is an ongoing step. This is the part where you simply do your thing – blog. You have your subject and style, your blog name, your blogging community, everything. So start blogging!

Very early in my blogging days, I read some advice that has stuck with me and helped me figure out this blogging thing. First of all, blog about what you enjoy and love (If necessary, go back and read our step 4 for more on this topic.). If you discover that you really don’t want to keep blogging about your four pet hippopotamuses, don’t feel bad about changing the direction of your blog, somehow expanding what it addresses, or starting from scratch with the blog idea. If you don’t enjoy blogging, people probably won’t enjoy reading your blog either.

That's one of the beauties, that blogs reflect us.

Secondly, be consistent. It may take some practice at first to be consistent with your blogging. It is, in a sense, a new commitment. How often you blog does depend a lot on the nature of the blog (Forr example, a news blog might be updated multiple times a day.). Being consistent is important for many reasons. It keeps you writing, and it helps your readers know what to expect. Some bloggers plan out that they will blog every Monday and Wednesday. Your schedule doesn’t have to be that concrete, but if you’re blogging at least 2-3 times per week, then you’ll avoid the most horrific situation of readers stopping by, only to see the old post they’ve seen the last four times they visited.

In closing, blogging is a product, but it’s also a process. I can guarantee that you’ll grow and change and so will your blog. That’s actually one of the beauties of blogs, that they reflect us and help us see our lives in a different way. I wish you the best in your blogging endeavors.

My dear readers, blog on!

remodeling, or minor fix-ups around the house

Somebody should start a blog about remodeling, or minor fix-ups around the house . . .

Houses are under construction until they’re fully built. Homes seem to be always under construction.

This is the room in our house that is currently under construction.

We have one room in particular in my parents’ house that has been remodeled more times than I can count. I don’t know the room’s initial purpose, but eventually, it became my sister’s bedroom. Then it became a bedroom that both my sister and I shared. Later, it was my stepbrother Justin’s room. That’s when it was painted Donald-Duck’s-shirt blue (of course, that’s probably not what he would have called the color, but that’s my interpretation of it).

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Now, it’s once again under construction. It was going to be a workout room, but last I heard, it’s going for more of a guest bedroom now.This room isn’t the only one of its kind, though. It seems like all of the rooms in our house have changed at some point. Mom always has some kind of project.

It would be very cool for someone to start a blog about remodeling their house, or a house they bought for the sole purpose of fixing up. Or the blog could be used to show minor fix-ups around the house throughout the years. Of course, there should be lots of pictures and how-to’s.

meeting for the first time

Somebody ought to start a blog about meeting for the first time . . .

Meeting people. Being introduced. Introducing yourself. First impressions. Shaking hands.

The old cliche says, “A first impression is a lasting (or important) impression.” Maybe it’s true somehow, but I find myself forgetting most of the ways I met some of my best friends. I have a theory about this!

First impressions are sometimes all that you know about a person. If you really want to know them, however, and get to know them, then you share experiences that overwrite the first impressions. (To the grammar conscious: I realize that because my antecedent is person that my ensuing pronoun should be singular, but I really hate writing “he or she,” so I refuse to do it in informal settings. My apologies.)

Some people get a little nervous when they first meet someone.

It would be cool to see a blog that documents all the first meetings of a person, for say a year or so. It could even follow the development of relationships (Although, that might be a little creepy? What do you think?). It could give examples of good first meetings, and not-so-good ones, and tips of how to improve people-meeting skills.

Today was actually one of the most awkward introductions I’ve ever had. I’ll change names to protect the identities of all involved victims (Well, there were only two victims, and I was one of them. You already know my name, so I’ll keep my name the same.):

Me: Hey, I’m Celeste.

Woman: Charlene. (I didn’t change this name, because it’s not a real person, and thus not a victim.)

Me: (Thinking to myself) I thought her name was Melissa? (Aloud) So, your name is Charlene?

Woman: No, I’m Melissa. I thought you were Charlene?

Me: My name is Celeste.

Woman: Oh.

For me, it was some consolation that at least people are getting a little more original. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been called Chelsea. On the other hand, I had no idea how to redeem the situation. The world needs some faithful person to blog about how to handle those mysterious first-time meetings.