Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award (Part II)

Exciting news!  Amanda from Amanda Under Construction was kind enough to nominate me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers award!  I met her through Blogging 101 and her site is a real treat–do check it out! sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-014 Since I’ve received this award before (see first post here), I’m going to skip all the hoo-ha and simply answer the questions.  (There’s more to it, but if you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll know that I’m super awkward about the whole nomination business.)

Amanda’s Questions:

1. Favorite social media platform?

Probably Instagram.  It doesn’t suck up a great deal of time and I love all the photos.  (Follow me at ameliab648!)

2. Favorite movie? Most recent movie you’ve seen?

Most recent: Jurassic World

Favorite: Midnight in Paris

3. What’s been the best day of your life so far?

Describe it! I’ve actually written posts about this!  “An Afternoon in Austria” describes the process of getting to five of the best days I’ve ever had.  On my travel blog, “The Austria Post” gives more of a general impression.  In it, I talk a lot about how visiting my friends impacted my Christian faith at the time.

4. Ryan Gosling or Jake Gyllenhaal?

Both are attractive, but if pressed to choose…

5. Name a female that you look up to/you see as a mentor/role model! (Celeb, mom, whatever.)

This woman:

Not only is J.K. Rowling an incredible storyteller, but I’m always blown away at her poise in the public sphere.  Her 2008 Harvard Commencement speech is one of my absolute favorites–I’ve listened to her wise words about the importance of failure and benefits of imagination multiple times and they never fail to give me chills.  Her rags-to-riches story has always inspired me greatly.  I also really admire her empathy to those less-fortunate and her incredible ability to send scalding, but still elegant retorts in 140 characters or less on Twitter.

6. Best compliment you’ve ever received?

Four years ago, I spent the summer before my freshman year of college volunteering at my local library.  There was a librarian there I really liked.  Recently, my mother was at a meeting for prominent local business people and ran into her.  The librarian, recognizing my mom, inquired about my current well-being.  When I heard about the encounter, I was shocked that she actually remembered me.  After all, three months of shelving books once a week isn’t enough to really make a lasting impression… or so I thought.  My mom then said something that has stuck with me: “Amelia, you’ll be surprised at the impact that you make on people just by being true to yourself.”

7. What makes you feel better when you’re feeling sad?

Scented candles, hot baths, romantic movies, cuddling my cat, and curling up with a good book.

8. What’s your favorite word?

Nostalgia.  I’m a deeply nostalgic person and find the word’s etymology fascinating.  The two portions in their Greek form, “nostos” and “algia”, literally translate to “the pain of home”.  Just thinking about this definition makes my heart ache for an idealized time-gone-by that can never be found again.

9. Bookstores or libraries?

Bookstores have my heart, but libraries have my soul.

10. What do you most like writing about?

Most of the posts I’ve been the most proud of tend to be musings about the past or future.  Trying to articulate how a place or event shaped me tends to draw out my best thoughts.  Attempting to use words to give shape to the future usually has the same effect.  That aside, I love writing about books.  My weekly On the Shelf posts have been particular favorites lately.

Thanks again, Amanda, for the nomination!

Crossing Campus in Late March

Minnesotans wait a long time for Spring.  Winter marks its territory in November and stays with us until mid-April.  The month of March is the most difficult to get through–most of the snow is gone, the ground is starting to soften, but most of the world is still a frozen wasteland.

But then there’s that day when you catch it: the slight scent of spring.  I don’t even know how to describe it, really.  It’s just a subtle freshness in the air.  It’s slight, but it seeps down into your soul, giving you fresh energy to make it through a few more weeks of winter.  The thing is, though, if you don’t pay attention, you miss it.

A few years ago, during a particularly long, miserable winter, I was in a poetry class.  I don’t do much creative writing these days, but I’ve resurrected something I wrote on the subject of the first scent of spring.  I re-edited it just now to make it decent enough to post. In light of a Blogging 101 assignment (which I discuss below), I’ve decided to share it with you all.  My theme wasn’t cooperating and formatting some of the words the way I wanted, so I made an image version.

———————————————— CrossingCampus Poem Text ————————————————

This post was created for a Blogging 101 assignment that had to do with writing based on a prompt.  I wrote from the following, found on The Daily Post:

From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

I’ve always enjoyed prompt-based writing, but I haven’t done any in a long time.  I really enjoyed crafting this post, revisiting old writing, and sharing with you all.  This stretched me in a way I’m not used to, and it feels good to push myself.

You now know about one of my favorite smells.  So now I have to ask: What’s yours?

Strawberry season, anyone?

Now that summer is in full-swing, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than picking strawberries?  Or, in my case, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than working at a strawberry patch?

That’s right, folks.  Strawberry season is here.

You see, my family owns a pick-your-own patch (and apple orchard).  I’m on the summer work crew and we’ve been toiling for weeks getting the fields weeded, fertilized, and ready for customers.  Yesterday, we picked up all the planks and sandbags up from frost season and mowed everything–The fields look amazing.

The plan was to open at eight o’clock this morning, but the weather had other plans.  My alarm went off shortly before seven and I woke to the sound of pouring rain.  Determined not to let our opening day be a rainout, my dad decided to open at ten instead.  (Which meant I got to go back to sleep!)  At the appointed time, he and I loaded up our golf carts with our scales, picking boxes, and gear and got to work.

It was a slow morning, but boy, did the berries look nice!  I worked check-out and my small-talk skills were quickly pulled from hibernation.  Most of the customers were regulars–not deterred by the wet fields.  One lady was so determined that she arrived wearing plastic poncho-pants and left completely dry with three flats of berries.

We were open till mid-afternoon and my day was sustained by conversing with adorable small children and sassy old men.  I had the foresight to bring a book, so when things got slow I plowed through Bleak House (I’m almost to the 600 page mark!).

Strawberry season is both a relief and a torture.  It’s wonderful to have a change of routine (we’ll be running the patch instead of doing field labor), but since I live on site, its presence always looms.  The season eclipses dinner conversations.  The phone rings off the hook.  Dad darts in and out of the house stressing about all the work that still has to get done.  I work every day–even weekends.

I’m glad to finally be open and I look forward to it being over.   (The funny thing is, I don’t even like eating strawberries.)

What’s your favorite way to spend a summer Saturday morning?

A few visual changes

Several of the past few assignments for Blogging 101 have pertained to updating various visuals on your site–theme, widget, “About Me” page, etc.  So, I thought I’d write up some brief notes regarding changes happening around here.

As you can probably tell, Keep Your Feet has undergone a bit of a face-lift.  I’ve wanted to ditch the Hemingway Rewritten theme for quite some time.  The problem, however, was finding a theme that had a similar structure while matching my desired visual appeal.  It was a long search, but I finally landed on Gateway.  I’m extremely happy with the new look.  I feel like it captures my personality better than the old one.

Another assignment had to do with creating a custom header.  One of my favorite aspects of my old theme was that I had multiple headers that would switch from one page to another.  I liked the randomness of it all and felt like it enabled me to express multiple things about myself and my site–from golden leaves to a winter trail to a sunset and so on.  After much deliberation, I decided to do away with this and go with a static header.  I ended up going with a new image completely–a photo of myself and a friend in a secondhand bookstore.  The shot was taken last January and has been the cover photo of my Facebook page ever since.

What better captures the essence of Amelia (that's me) than a bookstore?
What better captures the essence of who I am than a shot of me in a bookstore reaching for a literary prize?

One thing I had never thought of that came up on the Blogging 101 emails was using PicMonkey to create a custom header.  I tinkered with the idea of further customizing the above image, but ended up staying with the automatic look that comes with the theme.  Maybe one of these days I’ll revisit the idea. What I DID get out of the header assignment was not a header, but static images to go with some of my features.  They’re not anything graphically astounding, but I’m rather pleased with them!

Blogging 101 has really been a delight and a challenge.  Although I’m kind of disappointed about not being able to gain access to the Commons (despite filling out the required form several times and making inquiries), I’ve really liked getting my site together.  It’s been fun getting to know people, find new blogs, and learn more about how WordPress works.  My blog has undergone lots of changes for the better over the past week and I’m excited to see what happens over the next couple weeks!

Sketchbook Corner

One of my favorite features here on Keep Your Feet is Sketchbook Corner.  Since I’m participating in Blogging 101, I feel like I should explain the history of these posts.  They began sometime last fall during school.  Unless the class is completely gripping, I usually find myself needing to do something to do with my hands.  I took up doodling in the margins.  Eventually, I was struck by a thought: Why not share these on the blog?

Thus, Sketchbook Corner was born.  Every couple of months, I like to share the art I’ve been working on.  I’m no studio art major… just a self-taught artist who enjoys creating things.  My primary medium has always been pencils–I’ve been drawing for over ten years.  Over the past year, though, I’ve expanded into watercolors!

At least once a week, I put in a movie and settle down with my paints.  It’s a wonderful way to relax after a long day of work.  I enter my own little world and, for a while, time stops.  I’m always completely shocked when an episode of a show ends–did an hour really just pass?

Enough rambling from me… here is the art!

I’ve recently taken up colored pencils again and have been revisiting some old doodles in my sketchbook.  Here are some colored ones below:

IMG_4849
Top left: Ginny Weasley Bottom left: Random mermaid Right: Some of my original characters

I really enjoy painting bookmarks–they’re functional and make for great gifts!  Normally I paint people, but have recently pushed myself into the realm of flowers.  My dad told me that if I can find a way to market them, I could make larger flower paintings and sell them at our family’s apple orchard store in the fall!

IMG_4815

Other paintings… Be sure to click into the gallery to see my comments about them!

Stay tuned for another Sketchbook Corner in a month or so.  Thanks for stopping by!

Who is this all for? Thoughts on audience and writer’s block.

Although staying on top of Blogging 101 assignments has been in my mind, I keep forgetting to post about them.  So here are some thoughts regarding what’s going through my blogger mind…

Yesterday’s task had me scratching my head a bit: Publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read.  Of course, this lead to the question… Who is my ideal audience?  If anyone in the world could read my blog, who would that be?  And how do I appeal to them?

I’ll get to these answers in a bit.  First, a story.

A couple of years ago, I found myself in an Innovative Creative Writing class.  Our textbook was Lance Olsen’s Architectures of Possibility and, throughout the semester, we read a bunch of trippy, postmodern work and strove to break the mold of “traditional” literature.  Our mantra was something along the lines of “Do something new!  Break the mold!  Be innovative!

During that class, I spent a great deal of time thinking about blogging.  For the first time, I wanted to try my hand at writing not for myself, but for others.  I put a great deal of thought and wit into my posts and appealed to my classmates for help.  By the end of the semester, though, I was exhausted.  Left with very little motivation, I genuinely wanted to write.  The problem was every time I sat down to post, I got so bogged down by the pressure of a potential audience that the words completely froze.

Whenever I find myself struggling with writer’s block, I can usually trace it back to this problem.  Even last night when I sat down to follow through with the assignment and write a post for my ideal audience, I couldn’t seem to do it.  I’ve come to the conclusion that, when it comes to writing non-academically, I do my best without constraints.

The following quote says it better than I ever could:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison

If writing novels isn’t your thing, there’s always the WordPress version : Write the blog you want to read.

A few years ago, I spent a semester at a university in London.  Before I departed, I noticed that everyone I knew who studied abroad made travel blogs, but always let them fall by the wayside after a handful of posts.  This frustrated me!  I wanted details about adventures–history, fun stories, photos, etc.  So, when I created In the Bellow and the Uproar during my own travels, I stuck with it–creating the travel blog I had always wanted.  (The funny thing about this was that, although in my eyes I had created perfection, none of my friends actually bothered to read it.)

Here on Keep Your Feet, I want to write a blog that I want to read.  I want to create posts that I come back to.  In a way, I suppose my ideal audience is myself.  Gosh, is that pretentious?  I hope not!!  I really don’t want to come off as snobbish in any way.  I just know that when I strive to create for others, my abilities peeter out.

In the end, I’d rather write for myself and create decent content than write for others and not create at all.  If my content your fancy, that’s awesome!

Am I the only one who struggles with the idea of writing for an audience?  Let me know in the comments!  Fellow Blogging 101 classmates, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Blogging 101: Introduction Time

In lieu of school being over and no papers to write, I’ve decided to participate in Blogging 101!  I’m excited to put my words to good use and see what this next month brings.  I’ll be taking part in the daily assignments and challenges, so heads up!  I’ll try to keep on top of my weekly feature posts, but if need be, those might go on the back burner for the time being.

I’m running a bit behind due to work and real life commitments, but hope to catch up quickly.  The first assignment is simple: Introduce Yourself.  So here we go…

My name is Amelia and I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris with a degree in English and a minor in Communication.  I’m currently living under the roof of my parents while I job hunt.  My family owns an apple orchard, so I’m on the summer work crew doing menial labor.  It’s not the most glamorous work, but keeps me humble and motivates me to go on and make something of myself.  I love reading, painting, and biking.  I also adore travel and get out as much as I can.

I’d cover more of my reasons for blogging and such, but my “About This Blog” page sums it up quite nicely.

I’m participating in Blogging 101 for several reasons.  I’m hoping to polish things up a bit–there’s always room for improvement!  Mostly, though, I’m really looking forward to engaging in the wonderful community here on WordPress.  I’ve wanted to get more involved, find new sites, and meet fellow bloggers, but have never felt like I’ve had much of a chance to do so.  I’m really excited to have the opportunity over the next few weeks!

If you’re also participating in Blogging 101, let me know in the comments and I would love to check your site out!