As I sat down to go through all the survey responses, one thing was clear.
Y’all are nosy.
And I like it. A lot.
All us southern girls are nosy too and don’t let a one of ’em tell you otherwise. If they try to, they are lyin’ like a rug. Being nosy keeps us fully informed and I’m sure obnoxious as well. I’m perfectly fine with that.
Before I answer all y’all’s nosy questions though, I want to touch on a few things you guys mentioned that concerned me or that you have had issues with lately:
• Site Speed
Some of you mentioned that my site loaded really slow for you or it seemed like there was a bad connection sometimes. If you read my post where I whined about all the site hosting issues I had week before last, you know that I switched hosts at that time as well. I’m hoping that the speed and connection issue has been resolved by switching hosts. I know Rain on a Tin Roof seems much faster for me after the switch. If it’s still loading really slowly for you, if it should ever start to be slow again or if it just won’t load at all, please let me know either by email, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I know how annoying it is to deal with a slow website and that’s the last thing I want y’all to have to do.
• In-Post Ads
There were a few of you who mentioned that the small square ads actually within a post were annoying. The reason I initially moved those from my sidebar to inside the posts was because my ad management service thought that might help with site speed (this was prior to me switching hosts). I wanted to try that out, but it didn’t seem to help too much and after you guys complained about them, I moved them back to the sidebar.
• Centered Font
Ok, I’m a weirdo. I have this weird thing with symmetry and when I write some of my posts (especially the intros and story posts) I don’t know, I just feel like the sentences should be centered if it’s not a full paragraph. However, since a few of you said that messes with your eyesight, I have stopped doing that. I can’t have y’all start sending me your eye doctor bills. haha. 😉
• Sponsored Posts
This is always something I like to put out there every year with the survey and get your feedback. I strive for any sponsored post that I do to be as relatable and fit into the content of my blog as much as possible. Out of the hundreds of people that took the survey, there were only five that said my sponsored posts were “too commercially.” I’m going to call that a win. What you need to know, and I realize every blogger says this, is that I won’t ever do a sponsored post for a product I don’t believe in or that doesn’t fit into the content of my blog. Some brand emailed me a few weeks back and asked me to do a sponsored post on makeup. Makeup. They said it would fit in great on my blog. Well, obviously they hadn’t dived too far into my blog because never once have I posted about makeup except for me saying that I absolutely suck at applying it. It was one of those shaking my head moments. While I love a bold red lip, anytime I’ve tried to make it happen, I end up looking like Bozo the clown’s redneck kinfolk. There have also been products that brands have emailed me to try out and I’ve tried it out, either hated it or it didn’t work for me, and therefore told them I couldn’t post about it. On the other hand, there have been great brands I’ve partnered with, fell in love with their products and formed an ongoing relationship. A few of those are HomeRight, FrogTape, Velvet Finishes, and others. I am so grateful to have those relationships because they allow me to do projects to share with you and hopefully inspire you to tackle your own projects and they also support my family. The reality is that I have a three year old that costs more than I could have ever imagined and an 18 year old that is about to go to college next year. Sponsored posts help pay for all that.
Ok, enough of that.
Here are all the questions you had for me. Some of you had the same or similar questions, so I condensed where I could.
Thanks for never holding back. 🙂
Q: Do you ever slow down? Yes. No. Sometimes. It’s in my genes to go-go-go. I don’t know how to be idle. There is always something that needs to be done and I usually feel like I should be doing it. One thing that can slow me down is a good book. Get me immersed in a good southern book and that’s how I’ll spend my evenings until the book is finished. I also try my best to chill out and not work when we are on vacation. I take my laptop with me in case of work emergencies, but do my best to focus on spending time with the family. I also try to take Fridays off for the most part. I’ll get up and tend to work related tasks in the a.m., but the Circus and I like to curl up with some old westerns on Friday afternoons whenever possible.
Q: What are your favorite blogs? I will be 100% honest with you – I rarely have time to read any blogs anymore. I really hate that because some of my best friends are bloggers and I don’t even get to read their blogs anymore.
Q: Any plans for Circus 2? Hell no.
Q: How do you manage your time? I’d love to see one of those days in the life posts. Survival of the fittest, y’all. If I haven’t been committed to the asylum or haven’t had more than one beer by the time 5pm rolls around, then I consider the day a success. Seriously, half the time I fly by the seat of my pants. I do most of my work when the circus is at preschool for 4 1/2 hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Honestly, the best way for me to tell you about how I manage my time would be a day in the life post, so I’ll put that on the calendar. 🙂
Q: I wish you would do a Q&A with people who are new to blogging who purchased your ebook Standing Out.That would be AWESOME! Do you think you would ever do that? Sure, why not?! Let me work on figuring out the best way to organize that – maybe a Facebook group? You can always email me with questions in the meantime! P.S. If you don’t know what Standing Out is, you can read about it here.
Q: How many hours a week do you spend working on/for your blog? Probably a minimum of 35 – 40 hours. That would include actual project work, photos, writing posts, etc.
Q: How old are you? Where were you raised? The big 30. I was raised in a small town in Tennessee on a farm for the most part. I have more about that on my About Me page.
Q: How did you come up with the pet names Grunt Labor and the Circus? Grunt Labor actually came up with his own name. We were working on a project – I think it might have been the kitchen island – and I was telling him what I wanted and he laughingly said, “I’m just nothing but grunt labor to you.” And I said yep. Not really. I laughed. But it stuck. The Circus got her name because one night, before she was even one, I was so tired of chasing her all around the house making sure she didn’t kill herself, that I went and bought one of those ring / cages / whatever you call them things and to me, it looked just like a circus ring. And the Circus was caged. But it only lasted for a month.
Q: What is your favorite DIY project or room makeover that you are most proud of? I have no freaking clue. I really love how Bill’s room turned out and my navy and white kitchen. For projects, I guess at the moment it would have to be the modern rustic bookshelf and the black and white gallery wall – I still swoon over that one.
Q: How did you get the part-time kids? Because God shows favor upon us and at the same time wants us to be in the poorhouse. I’m kidding. Seriously though, we are really blessed to have them in our lives and I can’t imagine life without them. Grunt Labor is a middle school basketball coach. Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to have some kiddos latch onto our hearts. Kareem was probably the first and he is now at Arizona State playing football. Also, he led the Pac 12 in interceptions this season. As a freshmen. Boom. #notthatimbraggingoranything Bill is a senior this year and spends quite a bit of time with us and as most of you know, the guest room is essentially his. He is actually signing to play football at Austin Peay University on Wednesday. Again – #notthatimbraggingoranything Malik is another baby who we consider part ours as well and also a senior. I don’t know that there’s a “story” of how we got them – like I said they just latched on and wormed their way into our hearts. We are just happy that their parents allow us to be a part of their lives. Also, notice I said two of them are seniors this year. We are currently accepting donations for college. #kidding #notkidding
Q: Are you going to BlogHer ’16 in LA? I’ll be there! No – unless you’re paying my way to go. 😉
Q: I recently bought your e-book. I have launched a blog but every time I get an original idea it seems that another DIY blogger beats me to the post. When I look at Pinterest it seems it has all been done. I am passionate about DIY and am a home stager. I just purchased a fixer upper so it seems ideal to stick to my niche especially since the “experts” say you are supposed to blog your passion. Your book says to “Stand out”. My question to you; Stand my ground and hope people will follow me because of me, (still finding my voice though), or blog about something I am less passionate about but has not been “done to death”? Hands down – Blog about what you are passionate about. If you don’t, you will end up hating blogging and it will never work. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that half of my ideas have been done by other people as well. I didn’t copy them, but ideas are just like that sometimes. However, mine have some sort of spin on them that is uniquely me – so be uniquely you.
Q: What is your source of energy?? Passion. As corny as that sounds. I think that doing what I love is what keeps me going. And P.S. – I am usually exhausted every single day by 9pm.
Q: Do you ever regret blogging? Nope, not for a second.
Q: Have you tried craft beer? Yes. And I’m not a fan. At the Rick Bragg event a couple weeks back, the bartender made me try it even though I told him I wouldn’t like it and to just hand me my pilsner. #stilldontlikeit
Q: Nothing comes to mind at the moment but I do want to comment that I like that you answer your comments. I realize it is probably overwhelming at times being you are probably so very busy but it is nice to know that you care about what the people have to say and when they do have questions or such you let them know you are still engaged with them and not ignoring what they have to say. Y’all I can’t imagine walking down the street, someone saying they liked my hair and not saying thank you. It would just be downright rude. Y’all’s comments are of course much more valuable than a compliment about my hair, but the same thing goes – I can’t imagine not responding to comments. There have been a few rude comments that I haven’t responded too as much as I want to, but I let those go. I treasure your comments though – please don’t ever stop leaving them – they freakin’ make my day.
Q: Did your grandparents raise you? No, but my Pap in particular has probably had the biggest impact on my life. My Grannie died when I was in 1st grade, but my fondest childhood memories center around her. There’s not much I remember from those early years, but the things I do remember are often centered around her. There are lots of things I can look at in my life today and know that had it not been for her, I wouldn’t be who I am – particularly my love of country music and the dance parties the Circus and I have. I remember my grannie and I dancing a lot and I think that has passed on to me and the Circus. From what some of her former students and co-workers have told me, she was a hoot and many have said they see her in me. I like to think that’s true even if it’s not. My middle and high school years were turbulent. There was rarely a calm spot during that time. My pap – especially in high school – was my compass. He was the solid, never changing, supportive constant. Had it not been for him, I’m not sure where or what I would be doing today, but I know it probably wouldn’t be this. It’s hard to put into words just what all he did for me, but I will say, he kept my soul from drowning. People have said I put him on a pedestal too much, maybe I do, but if there’s anyone who deserves being on a pedestal by me, it’s damn sure him.
Q: What has blogging brought to your life (spiritually, emotionally, monetarily) that you think has influenced why you post what you do? Do you post what you *think* we wanna hear or do you post for you? Blogging has allowed me to be me. I’m no longer stuck doing a job I didn’t like – I get to do what I love every single day. My passion is my job and it – thank ya Jesus – helps to put a roof over our heads, food on the table, buys too many toys at Target and too many pairs of basketball shoes. In terms of posting – I will tell you what I told someone at the Haven Conference when they asked me if I thought they should post what they wanted to post or what they thought their readers wanted to see – “It’s your f*cking blog. Post what you want to on it.” My take on this is that if I don’t post what I want to post, then I won’t be near as happy. And eventually that lack of happiness and passion and everything else good that comes with posting about what I love is going to show through in posts and then they are really going to suck. Does that make sense? I will say that it took a long time for me to hit publish on my first story. I had been wanting to post about it for a long time, but kept thinking ‘I don’t blog about stories, I blog about decorating.’ Finally I realized that while I love writing about that stuff, I was more than just decorating and DIY projects and then I figured you guys might be more than that too. So I started doing the stories – and once more, thank ya Jesus – it worked. I post what I want to post about and I hope you love it – if you don’t, maybe you’ll like the next one. Ya can’t please everyone and I’m certainly not everyone’s damn cup of tea, nor would I ever want to be.
Q: How do you find some of the furniture you redo? The usual culprits are yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores. Sometimes, I find them on the side of the road, but people around here don’t seem to throw old furniture on the street as much as they do in other places. Also, a lot of my friends will call me if they have old junk they don’t want or know someone who does. After you start redoing furniture, people tend to keep you in mind as the “taker of all junk no one else wants.” And that ain’t a bad title to have, y’all.
Q: If you had to replace ‘All’ your tools. I do mean all. Which would YOU purchase first? Why? How would you prioritize the purchase of the rest. Would they be a business replacement? Or a personal replacement? I’m not sure I quite get the whole business replacement / personal replacement thing. We use all our tools for both business (blog) and personal stuff (fixing shit that breaks). But the first would be a drill. No girl should be without a good cordless drill. The drill would be followed by the circular saw, nail gun, miter saw and jigsaw – in that order. If you’re interested, I have all my tool suggestions here.
Q: Tell the story of your most embarrassing date. hehehehe. The first time Grunt Labor and I went on a date, well went out for drinks after a ballgame, I don’t know if it was a “date,” we were walking to the car and he held out his hand. I was like ‘huh, does he want me to hold his hand?’ So I held out my hand. Turns out he just wanted the keys which he had given me earlier. I. Was. Mortified.
Q: Have you ever worked a job where you had to go to the office for eight hours a day, forty hours a week? I do and I can’t tell you how much I look forward to getting and reading anything you send out. It’s a bright star in my daily drudge. And that is part of the reason why I do what I do – seriously you have no idea how much you light up my day when y’all say stuff like this – even if you’re just blowing smoke up my ass. haha. But yes, I used to be a teacher and it wasn’t fun.
Q: Where/how did you get started doing DIY & décor? Do you have any formal training? Did your mom decorate like you do? Mine didn’t so I struggle with not having a role model. I have always loved decorating – like I was watching Christopher Lowell when I was in middle school and trying to pull off everything he did with much fewer resources. When I was 19, I started renovating my great-grandfather’s house. The budget was tight, so I learned most of my DIY skills then. Nothing like putting on a metal roof in December while it’s snowing, y’all.
Q: When will we see what you are doing in your new home? There were quite a few questions / requests for more 70’s Landing Pad posts. I’m going to be honest – when I found out we were buying the new house, one of the first things that came to my mind was ‘I’m not going to have a lot of pretty pictures and fully completed projects to post about for a while.’ I was really worried that some of you might lose interest with the Landing Pad plans and progress posts sans pretty pictures – but you totally squashed my fears and I love ya for it more than you’ll ever know. The reality is that there won’t be any pretty pictures of fully decorated rooms at the 70’s Landing Pad for a while and that’s just real life – it’s how renovations are. BUT there will be lots of posts about the plans for the rooms and progress of the renovation. I am doing my best to have a minimum of one post dedicated to the 70’s Landing Pad at least once a week. Thank you guys for being so damn supportive with it.
Q: Do you ever face burnout? I’m burning out majorly right now but then I look over and you’re still publishing great stuff which inspires me. I don’t know that I’ve ever faced burnout in terms of I wanted to quit blogging. Around the end of November and December, I got crazy busy with work and I was most definitely exhausted. I needed a vacation badly – so I took one. The week of Christmas through the week of New Years I didn’t write a single post or do much of anything with social media. It was a much needed break and when it was time to start up again, I was ready. Blogging is just like any other job – vacations are necessary!
Q: How do you feel about blogs with stories? I know you’ve mentioned from time to time loving Rick Bragg and I’ve always dreamed of writing a blog that is a fusion of DIY and real, meaty stories. Can that be done? Do you think Instagram and Pinterest make that impossible? Ummm……I kind of think that is what I’ve done with my blog. While I know my stories are no comparison to Rick Bragg’s, I love telling them and judging from comments and pageviews, it seems most people around here love them too. So, I love blogs like that and say go for it! Will stories bring in tons of pageviews through Pinterest and Instagram? Probably not, but in my opinion, blogging is not about chasing the almighty pageview.
Q: Do you teach anymore or is blogging your full-time job along with being a mother of course? Nope, I haven’t taught since January of 2013.
Q: If you weren’t blogging, would you still teach? Or would you do something else? In all honesty, no part of me -at this moment in time- ever wants to go back to teaching. Now, if things changed in the education world and I could teach history without having to worry about so many damn tests then I might go back – but right now, blogging is my first choice. Education is just a big cluster right now where I live and I can’t imagine having to deal with it all again.
Q: What types of posts do you like blogging about the best? That’s a hard one. My stories for sure and probably good DIY projects that are just like ‘Wow, that’s awesome.’
Q: I think I asked the same thing last year, and I’m not a quitter: if I offered a flight and a case of the high life, you wanna come hang out and make a headboard with me?? Did I say no last year??? Because if I did, I’m sure that I must have been drinking too much! I’m in – I’ve never made a headboard though!
Q: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Sorry, couldn’t resist. I have no effing clue. But this article offers insight. haha.
Q: Anything you ever hated after you did it? Redo/ repurpose wise, not life decisions and all that after drinking a six pack kind of stuff. Usually if I hate it, I just redo it right then and there or throw it to the side and wait for another idea. There have been things that I “grow out of” so to speak. It took me a while to find my true style and what I really love in terms of decorating, so there are a lot of things from the beginning of my blogging days that I’m definitely not crazy over anymore.
Q: Will you write my blog posts for me? Ha! Half the time I’m not writing my own blog posts until the morning they are supposed to post!
Q: Do you do your projects solo or do you have help? Some are solo. Some I have help on. Most all of the furniture makeovers I do myself. Bill has helped on a couple though. Grunt Labor helps on bigger building projects like the outdoor daybed, outdoor sectional and the kitchen island. Grunt Labor has been installing all the new flooring at the 70’s Landing Pad while I’ve been painting. I could install it myself, but we have just been having to divide and conquer. Bill likes to use power tools, so he gets into the building projects some too. He and I did the bookshelf in his room. Grunt Labor is also really good at taking my ideas and actually figuring out the logistics – how much wood we need, dimensions, how to put it together, etc.
Q: I’m local (Ok, in Sale Creek, but don’t judge me) and I would love for you to do a local meet up with your readers. Ok first off, not judging you! But YES! I would love love love to do a local meet up! That would be so much damn fun! So here is my question – would you want to meet up and do like a small craft / DIY project or would just like a brunch or something be cool too?? Let’s do it!! Here’s an idea – maybe I should start a local email list to keep all locals in the loop of potential meet-ups. If you’re a local and interested in meeting-up at some point, then sign up here.
Q: Very personal, I know, but I’m curious why only one child? Well first off, did you read about the way she came into this world? Shonda Rhimes couldn’t have written it better herself! Ya know, I don’t really know for sure the one reason why only one. But here’s what I do know: Grunt Labor is an only child and he turned out pretty damn great. I mean, he does have those moments when things aren’t going his way and you know it’s because he’s an only child, but still overall he’s a winner. Also, I’m just going to be honest – I am a selfish person sometimes. There I said it. I don’t think I realize I am being selfish, but I am. I will have a million things I have to get done and she probably ends up watching too much TV that day than she should have. Now, if I had two kids imagine how it would be. And honestly when it comes down to it, she’s not exactly an only child. She has Bill and they love each other just like blood siblings. They also fight just like blood siblings. Blood is thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood, y’all.
Q: Have any of your home renovation projects ever been a total fail? If so, how did you recover and figure out what needed to be done or what you wanted to do? Heavens yes! Y’all, I get ideas all the time and half of them – maybe more – turn into utter failures! I either just throw it out or as I like to say – back up and punt – and try to figure out another way to make it work.
Q: Do you have a YouTube channel? Yes. It’s here. There’s only one video on it though. I have zero knowledge of shooting videos – I’m going to work on it though, y’all.
Q: If I win the lottery can we still hang out and have a beer, or is it only if you win? Are you kidding me? Of course! Also, do you think you could pay my house off if you win? 😉
If you made it to the end of this post, you deserve an award. Cheers to you, my friend.
Also, the winner of the giveaway from taking the survey has been emailed, so y’all check your emails if you took the survey. I don’t want to share the winner’s email address due to privacy.
You know you don’t wanna miss any of this crazy.
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