Grow Your Blog ~ Kristen from We are THAT Family Shares Her Tips

Today I have an interview with Kristen from We are THAT Family. If you don’t read her blog you are missing out on great writing and hilarious stories. I asked Kristen if she wouldn’t mind sharing her tips for growing a successful blog. Kristen has only been blogging for a year and has quickly risen to be one of the most popular mom blogs on the web. Her latest endeavor is hosting the hugely popular Works for Me Wednesday.

Here are some of her thoughts on creating a successful blog.

How does your family feel about being the subjects of many of your posts? Have you ever not published something because
your family didn’t want that information revealed?

My immediate family fully supports my blogging venture. My hubby is my biggest fan and my sounding board. If I have any doubts about content or privacy, I read it to him first. My kids are still young, but I just recently made a commitment to my 9 year old daughter to talk with her if it involves her. I am actually very careful with my extended family and do not blog about them at all, unless I have their specific permission. In real life, I’m a private person (surprise!), so I want to respect the privacy of others.

Do you do your own site design or did someone design it for you?

I’ve had the same blog designer since I started a little more than a year ago. Shauna from See My Designs is so talented, helpful and affordable. She’s also a work at home mom and I love supporting her with my business. HTML and I do not get along. I’ve learned to stay away from it.

You started your blog about a year ago and have experienced a tremendous growth in readership and subscribers. Is there
anything you would recommend to someone who is just starting out, to help them grow their blog?

I think the most important thing is to find your voice. Just as every person is unique, so is their voice. Focusing in on who you are and what you want to say is important. My goal is to have every reader leave my blog with an emotion.

What do you think was the most important thing you did to help your blog grow?

I contribute my growth to participation in the blogging community. When I first started, I left a comment for every comment I received. I participated in every carnival I could find, I answer every email that comes my way.

What is your advice for a blogger who wants to start their own meme or carnival?

Go for it! It doesn’t hurt to try it. Don’t give up or be discouraged if it gets a slow start. I think it’s a good idea to poll your readers too. Ask them to participate.

Is there something you wish you would have known before you started blogging?

My blogging experience has enhanced my life. I love writing and it’s fulfilled something in me. But in the beginning the learning curve was so big, I think a manual would have been nice! It took me a long time to get a handle on all the pieces that make up this parallel world.

What is your favorite part about blogging?

That’s a tough question! But I have to say the people I’ve met. It was certainly the most unexpected part. And every day I meet more women and my world is enhanced.

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My Television Alternatives & a Giveaway

We have a winner!

Here are your random numbers:

77

Timestamp: 2009-04-30 13:30:12 UTC

Michele

I’ll be in touch soon!

As I have now mentioned enough times to make everyone sick of hearing about it, I haven’t watched television for years. My no TV habit has created quite a bit of free time in the evenings since I am not watching television. It would be very easy to replace television with computer and there are nights that are spent blogging away, but there are others activities I enjoy as well.

  • Reading ~ I love to read. I prefer nonfiction, but I will occasionally read a fiction book or two. Usually, if I read fiction, it is a book my children want to read, so I read it first to preview it. I just finished Don’t Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America by Morgan Spurlock. This book is sort of a continuation of his movie Super Size Me. I liked the book but I don’t think it was the best choice for me to read right now. After reading the book I never want to buy anything prepackaged or eat fast food ever again. The fast food thing isn’t a big deal, but the prepackaged thing is kind of difficult to manage when you have just a had a baby. There are some interesting stats and figures about the food industry and it is a good read. The only negative is that Spurlock has a potty mouth. I would have much preferred this book sans the colorful language.
  • Games ~ I love to play games, cards, board, it doesn’t matter. My husband likes them too, the only negative is that we are both highly competitive and good at different games so we sometimes have trouble agreeing what to play. Personally I prefer Scrabble and Dutch Blitz since I cream him every time. He would prefer to whip me in Risk or Trivial Pursuit. We compromise and play a lot of Yahtzee and Rummikub.
  • Exercise ~ I don’t do this enough, but I do love to take walks on cool summer evenings. I have a temperature requirement of it not being too hot or too cold (yes, just call me Goldilocks) but when the weather is great I love to be outside.
  • Crafts/ Sewing ~ I don’t think my husband knew exactly what he was getting into when he married the crafty wannabe. Back then I had little skills, little talent, little money, and lots of ideas. I turned everything into a craft and he had to live with some pretty rough attempts. Odd looking Christmas ornaments, lopsided curtains, and glue guns plugged into every outlet. These days I have narrowed my focus, took some lessons, read lots of books and websites and now spend most of my craft energy sewing.

Recently I stumbled across an awesome craft site called You Can Make This This site is loaded with awesome craft/ sewing projects that are actually easy to make and don’t cost a ton of money! Right before I was put on bed rest I started to make this cute knot purse. I think I spent under $5 on the materials. I wasn’t able to finish the purse, because sewing projects were not allowed on bed rest, but I plan to finish it soon. The directions were very clear and easy to follow. They tell you exactly what you need to make the project and there are step by step instructions with pictures.

The best part about You Can Make This is that all their projects are in eBook form and ready for immediate download after purchase. This makes this site perfect for all those last minute gifts when you want to pull an all nighter sewing or working on a project. (Come on, admit it we have all done it!) I also thought this particular purse would make a great Mother’s Day gift. Once you download the pattern you can use it over and over again, and your only cost would be the materials.

I only wish I had heard about this site years ago when I was still torturing people with my craft disasters.

Of course, the generous ladies at You Can Make This have offered to giveaway a bundle worth over $50. Included are instructions for making a Child/Adult Apron Set, Women’s Reversible Wrap Skirt, “She Loves Me, She Loves Me KNOT” Handbag, The Reversible Patchwork Bucket Hat, and Boy’s Ties. I can assure you, you don’t need lots experience to be able to make these projects, they are simple, easy to follow and very basic. I would show you pictures of my half finished purse, but it probably wouldn’t convince you. Wouldn’t it be nice to give your mother-in-law a cute purse made by you this Mother’s Day? These projects are easy enough to include your older children in the process as well.

To enter the contest head over to the You Can Make Thissite and find a project you would like to make. Leave me a comment telling me what item you chose. For a second entry twitter about this contest, and leave me a second comment letting me know you tweeted. Contest ends April 29th in the evening.

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Being a Happy Housewife

The following is a guest post from Jennifer who blogs at Getting Ahead. Jennifer is a homeschooling mom of 4, who likes practicing frugality, scrapbooking and writing articles for Hub pages.

I wish I would have read an article like this when I was first married, it would have made the road much smoother for me.

I was married almost 13 years ago.  At the time, I absolutely did not consider myself a housewife.  Wife yes, housewife no.  I worked full time just like my husband and it seemed that neither one of us was ever home, how could I be a housewife?  Then we started having kids.  Even then I didn’t consider myself a housewife, but a stay at home mom.  Can you tell that my focus wasn’t really in the right place?  Thankfully things have changed a lot over the years and I thought I would share some of the ways I try to make my husband’s life easier by being not just a stay at home mom to my children, but a housewife to my husband.

My husband is a teacher and brings home a lot of work to do.  This means that in the evenings he is almost always working.  Rather than take this time to do my own thing, after the kids are in bed I try to be in the same room as him.  This way, even if he is working, we are still together.  We can talk a little bit, sometimes we watch TV together while he grades, etc.  We are closer as a couple when we spend our evenings in the same room, even if he is working.

I always pack his lunch the night before and frequently make his breakfast the night before too.  I want to make his early mornings as easy as possible for him.  He gets up so early, he doesn’t need to hunt for something to take to work for lunch.   I also try not to call him during the day.  At some point years ago we got in the habit of talking each day on the phone and I would get upset when he wouldn’t call me.  Now I accept the fact that he is very busy at school.  And the more he can get done while there, the less he has to bring home to do.  So I leave him alone.  If we are dealing with an issue at home I might ask him to check in with me on his lunch hour, but it doesn’t happen often.

I try not to ask him to do things that I can do myself.   It is nice for him to take the trash out, but I can certainly do it myself.  Don’t get me wrong he helps a lot around here, more than many other husbands I know, but unless I really need help with something I don’t ask for much during the week.  I also try very hard not to complain about the work he brings home or the coaching that takes many hours out of our day.  I am not perfect, but since I have made a good effort to not complain about these things, we have all been happier.  He is working very hard to earn money for me to stay home, complaining about all the time spent doing that was just damaging our relationship and making him feel guilty.

While my husband works hard to earn money, I try my hardest not to waste it.  I want to stretch his paycheck as far as I can, because that means he can work less and spend more time with us.  I know he appreciates all my efforts at frugal living.

When he is having a tough time I try to do little things to cheer him up.  I make his favorite meal, make sure there is a cold beer in the fridge, buy him a pack of Twizzlers (his favorite candy) or offer to give him a back rub.  Encouraging him to work out really helps relieve his stress.   He loves to work out, but doesn’t do it often because he doesn’t want to take time away from the family.  Letting him know that it is fine with me for him to go for a bike ride or a run gives him a much needed break.

Becoming a housewife was certainly a change for me.  I am constantly learning more and more about being a better one.  I feel that making my husband’s life easier is a big part of my job as housewife and that is what I strive to do every day.


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Do it Yourself Baby Sling

Before bed rest, or should I just start calling that time in my life bb,  I planned to make a baby sling for our new baby. I searched the web trying to find an easy pattern so I could make a sling for significantly less than I could purchase one.

I found these instructions on the Maya Wrap website. I already had my fabric purchased and my rings ordered, but I had one little problem bed rest doesn’t really allow for a sewing project. Remember my friend that helped me organize my disaster of a room last month? Well this friend also happens to be a master crafter and offered to come over and sew for me!

She came over yesterday and set up shop in my bedroom. I don’t have any pictures because that would have meant standing over the sewing machine and she didn’t want pictures of herself anyway. Even though I don’t have pictures of the process, I will say that this sling was so easy to make (especially if you are a spectator). Seriously though, we had numerous interruptions, children, husbands, chatting, and she still finished the project in under an hour. We decided that the project really only takes about 20 minutes. The instructions are easy to follow and even a beginning seamstress could make this wrap.

I spent about $5 on the fabric (I had a coupon) and $4 on the rings. So for under $10 I have a cute baby sling, just waiting to be filled with our new baby. I priced baby slings before I started this project and they can cost as much as $65!

Easy DIY Baby Sling | The Happy Housewife

I will try to post a picture of the wrap in use once we have a baby to put in it. I tried yesterday with a doll, but since I was sitting, and have a belly, and didn’t really know what I was doing I decided it was better to wait on the pictures!

You can find the instructions here and I ordered my rings from Sling Rings.

By the way, doesn’t that hot pink look great with my brown quilt? I am thinking I need to make some pink pillows for my bed once I can sew again!


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