Moving Literally and Virtually

Well, you know by now that our family is in the process of a big, cross-country move.  We’ve been packing up our belongings, staging, and selling our home.  And all these changes have helped me solidify some ideas about this blog that I’ve been tossing around in my head for a while, now.

Starting this blog, A Trip to *Holland, has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.  I began it during the unexpectedly rough (and sudden, due to Lily’s death) transition from a mother of young children to a mother of older children.  It gave me focus and purpose during a time when I had none.  It helped me see that nursing school wasn’t for me, but freelance writing was.  And it’s given me the opportunity to meet–both virtually and in real life–absolutely incredible people.

I feel exceptionally grateful for all the good things that have come to me from blogging at A Trip to *Holland.  I love what this little blog has helped me to become and accomplish.  Trouble is, I don’t love what the blog itself has become: honestly, a disorganized mashup of every facet of my life.  I started it intending to focus on my experience as a mother of children with exceptional medical needs.  But along the way I discovered craft and DIY and decorating blogs which appealed to me in their own right, and I started throwing in craft projects and recipes and style inspiration right alongside reports on Superkid’s latest bloodwork.

Is that bad?  No.  It’s my life, it’s my blog.  I can post whatever I want to.  And then Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week and the amazing Pinterest Challenge happened.  And I suddenly felt silly, posting sugar cookie recipes alongside heart-wrenching stories about families living with CHDs.  I realized that I no longer wanted to serve a mashup of all the facets of my life to the world.  I’d rather enjoy them on separate plates, please.

And, in another instance of perfect timing, our upcoming move solidified my intent to change the way I blog.  I have a lot of adventures ahead of me, and many of them are going to revolve around houses:  selling one, renting one, hopefully buying one.  I’m going to have lot of fun sharing those adventures, but I’ve decided I’m going to share them in a different space.

Nope, this won’t be the end of A Trip to *Holland.  (I plan to keep updating and sharing our journey with CHDs and metabolic disorders, right here, in place of the CarePage we used formerly).  But this is the beginning of A House in *Holland, where I’ll be sharing the bulk of my experiences as a homemaker.  I’m still working on the site design and details, but due to some unexpected opportunities, I’ve launched it already.  Please come visit!

 A House in Holland

If you’d like to keep getting updates on our family and Superkid, you are welcome to “like” A Trip to Holland on Facebook–I’ll let you know when I post here.

Likewise (no pun intended), if you are interested in following our adventures as homeowners, please “like” A House in Holland to stay in the loop of what’s happening over there.

Under Construction

This site is getting spruced up a bit, this week.  Things might look funky or not work the way you are used to for a few days.  Never fear!  I’ll be back with a few surprises and a whole new look.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Hope you are enjoying the lovely spring weather!

Holland Returns…Sort of.

Hello, Friends!

I have taken another blogging sabbatical.  I really should stop doing that, shouldn’t I?  This time it is for a very good, very exciting reason, which I should be able to share with all of you in approximately 11.5 days.  With pictures!

In the meantime, I suggest you hop over to Infarrantly Creative and read this week’s 5 Ways Saturday post, which was written by little ole’ me.  (As it is every week.)  It’s a very good one, if I may say so myself, and apparently I’m not alone in that sentiment.  Last I checked, it had been pinned 15,000 times by Pinterest users!  I’m stoked.

Shameless Shenanigans

All right, friends, I’m about to indulge in some shameless marketing.  (Deep breath.)  Here we go:

I’ve found out about a conference called The Creative Connection, and I want to win a pass for me (and a friend….it could be you!) to attend.  Why, you ask?  Well, why not?  I reply.

The Creative Connection is 3 days of training and networking for people interesting in making, marketing, or writing about handmade items, decor, cooking, and more. It features workshops and events geared to learning and growing those skills, hosted and taught by experts.  In addition to workshops and a handmade craft market, there is a “Pitch Slam”.  I had no idea what that was, either, so here’s an explanation:

Do you have dreams of becoming an author, fabric designer, illustrator, gift designer or magazine writer? This year THE CREATIVE CONNECTION is excited to offer the opportunity to help make your dream a reality by hosting a Pitch Slam! A Pitch Slam is a fun, fast-paced event that lets you pitch your literary or product idea to a panel of professionals in each field, and receive immediate feedback and expert suggestions for improving and refining your idea. This is a unique opportunity to not only pitch your idea, but to get” face time” with experts, tips on marketing your work and a chance to find professional representation.

Do I want to learn how to pitch my literary ideas to publishers?  YES!  Admittedly, that is not something they taught in the English Education program at Utah State University.  At this point in my life, it might be more useful to know how to sell my writing to a magazine, than how to create a learning unit on The Grapes of Wrath.

How badly do I want to go?  Enough that I’ve written an entire post and shamelessly shared my aspirations of becoming a [more] published writer with all of you–in order to earn extra entries into the contest.  Have I ever won anything besides a 4-H blue ribbon in the Utah State Fair for my snickerdoodle cookies when I was 9 year old?  No!  But I’m not going to let that stop me.  Wish me luck!

Move in Progress….

Recently, I made the decision to move this blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site.  What in the world does that mean, and why should you care?

Well, really, you don’t have to care.  It just means I’m going to be using different software to publish this blog, and my blog URL (that’s its address) is going to change slightly.  It also means that, during the process, things might be a little wonky on BOTH blogs, due to the risks of, well, the risks of me doing my own reprogramming.  Hopefully, most of the bugs will get worked out quickly, but in the meantime, I hope you’ll pardon the dust during my remodel!

Why am I making the switch?  Mainly because I’ve really enjoyed using WordPress publishing tools when I write for sites like The CSI Project and Infarrantly Creative.  I like the way WordPress handles their media uploads, among other things.  Another reason for the switch was for the added customization that I can get when I publish with WordPress.  I would like A Trip to *Holland to showcase the web publishing skills I’ve developed, so I want my own site to look as sharp as possible.   WordPress simply offers more freedom to do that.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to take all of you nice people who follow A Trip to *Holland along with me.  Just in case, here is my new address:

For those who use Google Reader or other feedservers to read, here is the new RSS feed URL:

http://www.atriptoholland.net/feed/atom/

The Fun to Come….

Things are in the works on this ole’ blog of mine.  I’m gearing up for a total blog redesign and the move to a self-hosted site.  (In non-geeky language, that means it won’t say “blogspot” after atriptoholland when you visit this website.)

Let me tell you what I’ve learned.  Redesigning a blog and moving it is not easy.  No siree.  It should be handled by professionals.

Do you know how much professionals cost? [Read more…]

Lazy Summer?

I’m back!  Back to blogging, that is.  This summer has been full of surprises (mostly good) and opportunities.  I’ll have to tell you all about it over the next few days.  Here’s a picture preview:

I have a couple of good excuses for neglecting my blog.  First of all, school’s out.  That means my kids are home during the day.  Guess what?  I love that.  And I’ve tried to stay off the computer as much as possible during our few days of summer vacation.

Second excuse?  My writing jobs.  If I’m going to spend time on the computer this summer, I might as well get paid for it.  So, the paid blogging gets priority.  Sorry.  By the way, did I tell you I have a new gig?  This July, I started writing for Infarrantly Creative.  I’m writing the weekly Five Ways column.  (Check out my latest, here.)  I’m still writing for The CSI Project, and my task list has grown there.  Admittedly, free-lance writing was easier and more fun when my children were at school.  Lately, it seems I’m putting in some late nights after they’ve gone to bed.  Oh well, we only have one Summer of 2011 to enjoy together.

Pardon the dust….

This site is currently under construction.  Stay tuned!

If you’d like to check out the “original” blog, click HERE to be redirected.  Enjoy!

Pinteresting Tutorial

What?  What’s that you say?  I misspelled the word interesting?  Au contraire, my friends.  I have discovered the website Pinterest.

Well, to be fair, I didn’t exactly discover it.  Kami from No Biggie told her readers about it, here.  I was curious, and went exploring.  What I found is just too fun not to share!

About Pinterest
What it is:  I like to think of it as the virtual equivalent to my habit of ripping pages out of magazines and filing them.  Pinterest is an online tool that lets you store images on your own virtual “bulletin board.”  Here’s what the folks at Pinterest have to say about it:
Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can create collections of things you love and “follow” collections created by people with great taste.
People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things — wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it.
What you can do with it:  Sometimes I find things online–via blogs, Etsy, or other websites, that really intrigue me.  Maybe it’s an article of clothing I think I could sew myself.  It could be a DIY project that would work great in my home.  Often, I find recipes that I want to try out.  But the problem is, how do I store it, keep track of it, remember where it came from, and quickly retrieve it–after I’ve found it?  Pinterest solves that dilemma.  I can quickly “pin” things I like, and send them directly to be stored on one of my Pinterest boards.  The folks at Pinterest take care of making sure that there is an accompanying image, a link back, and that proper credit is given.  Fantastic!
Getting Started
Okay, since I’m just getting started with Pinterest, this is by no means an exhaustive tutorial.  But here are the basics.
Go to Pinterest.com and click on “Request an Invite.”  If an invitation doesn’t arrive in your inbox within a few hours, email me (triptoholland {at} gmail {dot} com).  Send me the email address you’d like to use, and I will send you an invitation.  (I understand there are a few bugs with the invites, right now, since this is a fairly new site.) 
Once you have a Pinterest account, you’ll be able to create a profile, categorize a list of boards, and begin “pinning”.  I found that Pinterest walked me through creating my profile and board categories.  It was a cinch.  Here’s what my Pinterest page looks like:
I’ll use my screen to show you how to start pinning from your Pinterest page.
Pinterest is really user friendly.  When you begin pinning, Pinterest will walk you through the steps of getting a tool for your browser for easy pinning.
This is what the Pinterest tool looks like when you are browsing the web.
Nothing to it!
Once you’ve started, you can refer to your categorized bulletin boards when you are looking for some inspiration.  Here’s what is on my Crafting board, right now:
You can click on an individual picture to get more information about it–a description you wrote, where you found it, where you can read more about it, etc.
It’s genius!
From what I can tell, there is a social networking aspect to Pinterest, too.  For now, I’m really just interested in using it for online organization of things that inspire me.  But I’m guessing you could have a lot of fun swapping ideas back and forth with friends this way.
If you are anything like me, you are going to find Pinterest really handy for keeping track of the things that you saw once online, loved, and never could find again.  Enjoy!

Life in the Skating Rink

As my title suggests, it’s been a little icy outside my house.  Today was the first day my children have been to school since Monday, due to the weather.  Luckily, we didn’t get all the snow that some of the rest of the country got, but my town was encased in ice.  Literally.

Since my prime blogging time is while my kiddos are at school, I took a blogging break this week.  I put my kids to work and started several projects.  Now I’m on a roll…..I’m in the middle of several projects and I feel like I have to drop everything else and just get them done.  Do you ever feel like that?

So, this is a heads up that I’m going to extend my blogging break for a week or two longer, other than a couple of posts that I already had scheduled to go up in the next few days.  I’m planning on accomplishing quite a bit, and taking pictures while I work.  Here’s a list of what I’ve accomplished in the past two days:

  • I FINALLY finished the slipcover for my wing chair.  Oh, she’s pretty now.  She’s got the suh-weetest ruffle!  Can’t wait to show you!  How embarrassing is it that I’ve been putting that off since September?
  • I  cut up an old tablecloth (red with white snowflakes) and turned it into all kinds of pretty things to snazz up my house for winter.
  • Some of those things I made were cute pillows for the slipcovered chair and my family room couches, and window valances.
  • I FINALLY figured out how to get my vintage sewing machine to sew a zig-zag stitch.  Then, I really went out on a limb and figured out I could do all kinds of fancy embroidery stitches with it.  Yeehaw!  Some additional pillows may have been made in the process.
  • I hemmed a pair of jeans.  Broke 3 sewing machine needles in the process.  They look horrible.  I’ve decided never to hem jeans again.  Ever.  I’d rather pay someone who knows what they are doing to do it for me.
  • I announced to the Bionic Man that if the Gacky Sage in our family room did not get covered in Antique White before the end of February, I would go mad.  I suggested that all meals may be flavored liberally in sage, among other threats.  I think he got the message, because when I asked what his plans were for the weekend, he mumbled something about painting.

Awe-inspiring, aren’t I?  Wish me luck on all my projects!