Tag Archives: other blogs I like

blog hop, on writing and the creative process

Brooke at by the brooke emailed me last week and asked if I would consider participating in a Blog Hop.

Quick backstory here: Brooke and I met because she discovered my blog through a write up on E’s nursery, realized I lived nearby, and then (nicely, and not at all creepily) stalked me online before making contact. In her initial email she told me that she connected with the way we were raising our girls, and she wondered if she might ask me some more questions – about daycares and schools and pediatricians. I often feel like I’m not always excelling at this monumental (and often trying) task of child-growing, and so when she reached out to me and asked – well, it was about the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. I’ve been trying my best to repay the favor ever since.

She told me the blog hop was about my writing process, but that I was free to expand a bit upon that and talk about my creative process in various things. Which was generous of her, because I feel a bit like I’m cutting into a line of real-deal writers. The kind of writers with PhD’s and professorships – the kind of writers that say “Hey, I think I’m going to sit down and write a novel this month.” And they do. I, on the other hand, say “Hey, I think I’m going to sit down and write a blog post tonight after the kids are in bed,” and then I fall asleep in the middle of a chapter in our latest Ramona read. And so I don’t.

But I agreed to do it because, why not? I like to run with a theme, and lately my only themes around here have been work / study / sleep. So here goes nothing.

What am I working on?

There are two ways I could answer this question. Reality. And the reality that exists only within my head.

Reality first. I’m working on work (a lot) and studying (a whole lot). I’m also minimally working at posting on this blog because I love it and I miss it when I’m away. Outside of that, for about another seven weeks, I’m not working on anything else. Last week I actually did a tremendous amount of writing at work, which is slightly out of the ordinary from the regular practice of architecture. I’ve been working on an in-depth analysis for the biology department of a local university, and the resulting document feels like a dissertation.

The reality that exists in my head: Ahhhh, this is so much more fun. I’m working on a lot. If you’ve been here awhile, then you know this already, but the title of this blog has two meanings. It’s quite literal in its reference to the third story of our old house, as we have written quite a bit over the years about the full gut renovation of our 130 year old house. And it’s also quite literal in its reference to the residents of the third story of our house – I write a lot about what my girls do, up there in their attic bedrooms and beyond. But beyond just the reporting of those aspects of our lives, this blog really references the things that I have floating about in my own head, my own “attic”. My mind rarely stops, and I’ve found over the years that offloading some of the jumble upstairs into this place helps me. Even if it results in a blog that’s about a jumble of things.

So what I’m working on in my head:

My holiday card idea. Next week’s dinner menu. Future blog posts. Teaching myself to sew again. Our new kitchen, garden room addition and landscape plan! (This is going in fast forward mode as soon as my tests are complete.) And there’s also my secret children’s book idea (story and illustrations) that I’ve been working on in my head for at least ten years.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Since most of my writing these days is on this blog, I guess I’ll talk about blogs in general. I sometimes think of this blog as an online journal, but I do work at writing in a manner that is a little more polished than just a stream of random thoughts and ideas. I’m particular about spelling and grammar and editing, but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m perfect at it. My dad used to proofread all my papers when I was in school because he’s very good at it. I continued sending him copies of all my papers when I went away to college and graduate school. I know it’s just a little blog, but if I had the option to have one extra set of eyes to review my work, I would. Not to clean up content necessarily, but just because I’m one of those people that can get distracted by grammatical errors and lose the point of the piece as a result.

I write for myself, but I love the interactions through comments. I read them all, and frequently respond. My audience is me, but once I hit ‘publish’ a little bit of that changes, and I’m okay with that. I have zero interest in blogging as a career, or blogging for companies or corporations. My favorite comment to receive on a written assignment for school was “I like your voice. I appreciate your voice.” I like my writing voice, as amateur and unpolished as it might be, and I work hard to keep it my own. I do value the connections I’ve made through my blog, and I’m encouraged and grateful for those other independent voices out there.

Why do I create what I do?

I create because I really have no choice. I cannot stop the ideas in my head; the light in the attic never turns off. I constantly have to work at tempering my expectations because I simply can’t tackle them all. I’ve learned that I have to really limit my exposure to all of the visual media out there because it’s overwhelming. I fell like I generate enough visual media in my own head that needs moderating and filtering. If I had to name one skill or talent that I most appreciate, it would be my ability to look at a something (a piece of paper, an event, a problem, a story) and know exactly what I can do with it. Free time is my biggest challenge – but I’m sometimes amazed at what I can accomplish between 10pm and midnight.

How does my writing process work?

I never just sit down and start writing. I mull things over in my head, composing them in complete sentences and paragraphs. When no one is around (like in the car or the shower) I say those sentences out loud. Then I write. I used to be an avid note maker, and I absolutely adored the formal process of making a writing outline. Whenever I had flexibility within my college and graduate school schedules, I filled those classes with comparative literature and writing courses. If I had had more time and more money, I would have happily stretched out my studies a little longer to take more classes like those. I’m good with structure.

Since my free time and free space are so limited, I’ve adapted this by compiling the notes and the outlines in my head. I have a clear structure in mind when I start, and the words come out quickly. I’m a fast reader, and a faster writer. I used to write more at night, but for the most part I’ve stopped that. My evenings are for family, and also for sleep. If I start writing at night, I keep writing, and before I know it it’s ridiculously late. Now I write in the morning, in a smaller chunk of time. I work well with deadlines, especially self-imposed ones. Occasionally I’ll finish a post, but I’m afraid to hit ‘publish’. I’ll let it sit, I’ll think about it on my way into work, I’ll grab a cup of coffee, reread it one last time and let it go.

When my girls were little and were frustrated, they’d often act out in physical ways. We would remind them gently to “Use their words.”  I still think that’s the most valuable lesson I can teach them, and I try to model it myself each day. Quite simply, I adore words.

…..

Even though I had to think a minute about whether or not I wanted to participate in this little question and answer exercise, I did not have to think very long about the person I would tag next. I’m passing the baton to one of my favorite blog voices, Lauren of CrumbBums. I’m pretty sure she first posted a comment on a Bumbershoot post of mine, and not too long after that we both found ourselves recovering from difficult surgeries at the same time. We encouraged each other daily across the blog lines, and now we maintain our own friendship by frequenting the exact same places in this city without actually ever meeting up in person.

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She writes about music and fashion and living simply and richly. She loves good food and good gardens and good playgrounds. She adores her friends and her neighborhood and her husband and her three adorable (mostly shoeless) boys. Her writing feels like a brief moment of meditation in my busy day; I like her words.

admiring: blogs (in the beginning)

I remember first being interested in reading blogs about ten or eleven years ago – around the time E was born. I followed a handful of bloggers out there writing and doing interesting things – and most were having children about the same time. A few of those early reads are no longer writing – but several are still going strong more than a decade later. Here’s a roundup of the first people that got me interested in this platform.

Sweet Juniper – there were so many things I loved about Dutch and Wood (their early days monikers). Raising their daughter, Juniper, first in San Francisco, and then later in Detroit (in a fantastic Mies van der Rohe townhouse), Jim’s stories about their adventures in and around the city, and his fantastic homemade costumes and play things were such a delight. His posts are less frequent now, but I still enjoy seeing what they are up to. I also love the fact that they commission a different artist each year to do a family portrait for their holiday cards.sweet juniper

I’ve always loved Hilary’s creations and her writing at Wee Wonderfuls – but my favorite part was her Olive and Archie story / make along adventure. Everything she creates is so spot-on perfect, and I was thrilled when she paired up with The Land of Nod to produce some of her dolls. We own Winx (aka Brave Irene, in our house). Hilary always has the best Christmas trees, hands down.

Wee wonderfuls

A blog that I used to read religiously (although now retired) was The Trixie Update. It was actually one of several blogs written by stay-at-home dad’s that I loved. I’m not sure how I came to follow so many of those – but it was probably because they all followed one another, and so the connections were made between blogs. I was sort of an obsessive note taker with E when she was an infant – charting her naps and her daily intake of food, and Ben’s obsession with doing the same (and organizing it into detailed charts and graphs) was so fun to watch. He eventually created the Trixie Tracker – a way to keep all your own baby data organized and at the ready for analysis (if you are into that sort of thing). 

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Dooce has changed a lot over the years, but I still enjoy reading her posts occasionally. Her daughters are almost exactly the same age as my own girls, and their personalities are very similar. I admired her openness on the topic of her postpartum depression, something I was suffering from right along with her. I’m not a big fan of the blog-as-career path for the most part, but in between her numerous sponsored posts are still some real gems that make me laugh out loud.

dooceDesign*Sponge has been one of my consistent favorites for almost a decade – even back when it looked like this:

Design SPonge

I love Grace’s style and eye for design trends, and I admire the way her blog has evolved over the years. I still draw more inspiration from that site than any other, and you’ll see various posts referenced occasionally in my own blog.

admiring: famille summerbelle sale!

You may remember the London map print that we gave E for her ninth birthday – and that takes center stage over her new desk. I’ve loved the paper cuts by Famille Summerbelle for ages, and it was fun to actually purchase one for our house. We chose London because of E’s crazy love for all things Harry Potter and London is on her wish list for future travel.

I bring this up because Famille Summerbelle currently is running a sale on some of their sweet things. I got really excited because a certain niece of mine loves all things Paris, and so seeing the mention of the sale on the blog reminded me that they have a lovely Paris map as well. We learned that my niece is about to redo her room with a Parisian theme, and so it seemed the perfect time to purchase the Paris lithograph for her upcoming birthday. (She doesn’t read this blog, but some of her family does, so please keep the secret!)


I can’t tell you how gorgeous these lithographs are – I’m completely smitten with them.

I also really like Mouse in the House – the cutaway of that house with those fabulously furnished rooms is perfection.


And don’t even get me started on the wallpaper

Photo credits (except top):  Famille Summerbelle Shop