Posted in blogging

What I’ve Learned After 6 Months of Blogging

Hi everyone! Can you believe that it has been since month since I started blogging? I can’t believe that time has flown by so quickly. Honestly, by now I thought I would have thrown in the towel on blogging.

But as a SAHM blogging has been an escape for me and a way to reconnect to the real world. So here I am 6 months into this blogging thing.

If you haven’t read my previous post on the 4 things I learned my first-month blogging you can check that out here.

I’ll do my best not to recap anything I shared in that first post. So without further ado. Here is what I learned after six months of blogging.

Blog Because You Like It

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I know the internet would have you believe that blogging is one of the best ways to make money on the internet.

It would also lead you to believe that it’s easy and that anyone can do it. Unfortunately, those claims are not true for most bloggers.

It is very rare for someone to build a following of thousands of followers in the first few months of blogging. At this moment after six months of blogging, I only have 33 followers.

And that’s OK because I didn’t get into blogging to make money. I started blogging as a way to express myself and share my thoughts with the world.

Would I eventually like to be able to make money from my blog? Yes. As a SAHM I would love to have a successful source of passive income.

But if it never happens, I’ll still continue to blog because for me it’s a source of escape from the crazy life that is being a stay at home parent.

If you’re not blogging because you like it. You will eventually find yourself burnt out, stressed out and disillusioned as a new blogger.

Be Consistent

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When I first started blogging I was very inconsistent with my blog posts and what I was posting.

For instance my blog is about faith, family, and my craft corner. However, if you look at the number of post I have made, there are more post in my Craft Corner section, than in my other categories.

Some of those 33 people followed my blog based on posts that were made in the faith and family categories.

If that is the case then I owe it to my readers to post something in each of those categories on a consistent basis.

Many blogging experts will tell you that you need to blog every day to gain followers and to be found on the internet.

I tried that for a little while, but for me, it just didn’t work. So at the beginning of the new year, I made it a goal to write 1 blog post for each category once a month.

That boils down to one blog post a week and the fourth week I have free to do whatever I want with my blog such as: making pins for Pinterest, responding to comments, customizing my page, doing research on an upcoming topic, or planning for next months posts.

So far it has worked out well for me and I hope to develop a well round blog.

Share/Comment On Other Bloggers Posts

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In the world of blogging, you do not have to go it alone. Find other bloggers who are blogging about the topics that you are interested in. Don’t be afraid to comment on or share other bloggers posts with your audience.

In my experience, many of the other bloggers in the community are pretty nice and are willing to lend a helping hand.

Commenting on another bloggers post and sharing links are also ways to build your following.

However, I would suggest that if you’re going to make comments or share links do it because you genuinely have something to say about what was written or think that information will be valuable to your readers.

Blogging and bloggers are about building a community to help and support each other. Nobody likes to be taken advantage of for their own selfish gain.

So be a productive part of the blogging community.

Take Advantage of the Freebies

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There can be a steep learning curve when it comes to blogging and learning how to manage your site and growing your following.

WordPress has a lot of wonderful tutorials that can help you become a better blogger and learn how to take your blog to the next level.

If you started your blog on wordpress.com you should have taken the Blogging University Course: Learning Fundamentals. However, those are not the only course on Blogging University.

There are courses on branding & growth, photography, and writing. All at no cost to you.

If you’re looking for amazing pictures to put on your post you can find a list of 21 free photosites here. 

If you need to create awesome graphics for your site try Canva for free. You can make Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest graphics that you can add to your blog or social media platforms.

I’ve heard that there are free web hosting sites, but I don’t have any experience with any of these sites.

But if you are looking to give self-hosting your blog a shot then you may want to take a look at a few of those free hosting services.

Be Yourself

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The last thing that I’ve learned in the my six months of blogging is to be true to yourself.

Yes, there may be 1,000’s of blogs on your topic, but on thing remains true there is only one you.

There are people out there that will resonate with your voice and your personality. So don’t try to pretend to write like or be like someone else.

Just be yourself and let your personality shine through your blog.

I hope you found this post enlightening and encouraging. Always feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Faith, Family

Finding Comfort In God’s Word

I think everyone has that moment in their life that they will never forget. That one moment, that one incident that will forever alter their reality and changes that person for better or worse.

If you haven’t had that moment in life trust me you will.

For me, that moment took place four years ago on a dark cold January night, much like tonight. As I think about it our bedroom was set up in almost the exact configuration.

I remember laying in my bed next to my husband. Anxiously awaiting the news he had to tell me. News that would forever shatter the happy world I once knew.

I had an affair and I have daughter she will be one next week…words no wife wants to hear. A situation no wife wants to bear.

At that moment, four years ago, my life changed. It was the worst day of my life and without a doubt the hardest year of my life.

And even though I found myself broken emotionally and mentally. God was there to comfort me spiritually.

Even in the midst of my pain and my anguish God was there through it all. His word was a constant light shining into the darkness.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

When I felt like the wounds would never heal He reminded me that He would heal my heart.

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

When low self esteem tried to take me to the pits of depression He said…

…You are fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful…

Psalm 139:14

I cried many tears and had many sleepless nights, but…

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

And years later the weeping has subsided and has been replaced with His joy.

No, things aren’t how I want them to be, but they’re not as bad as they could be either.

When I found myself struggling with trusting those that I had once held so close He reminded me of where my trust should lie.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

When we are in consumed by the darkness in our lives, we often overlook the promises of God.

You know, human nature is funny that way, when we need him the most we often pull away from God. But it is in those times that we should draw closer not farther.

It is in His word where you will find hope for your tomorrow. It is in His word that you will remember that trouble won’t last always( 1 Peter 5:10). It is in His word that you remember that He is near the broken-hearted(Psalm 34:18).

You see no matter what you are going through God is there to comfort you. Waiting for you with outstretched arms.

For those who believe, the word of God provides us with light and hope in the midst of the storm.

Maybe you have a favorite verse that brings you comfort and hope. Please share it in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Crafting Corner

5 Things You Need To Do Before You Start Sewing

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Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to learn how to sew. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the thought of making my own clothes (fashion designer EJ) or maybe it was just the thought of doing something creative.

I’m not sure. Either way, I never got the chance to learn how to sew in my childhood. It was something that I always regretted.

Not to mention the fact that my husband knows how to use a sewing machine and how to sew by hand. Talk about feeling like a slacker!

Then one day, last summer, fortune smiled on me. My sister in law gave me the sewing machine that she didn’t use. Talk about being super excited!

It was an older sewing machine that she had gotten from my mother in law. (A Singer Millenium Series.)

It was a bit big and bulky, but that was alright with me. I cleared off some space in the kids’ playroom, plugged up my machine and dived right into my sewing journey.

Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes those first few weeks. But you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

1.Read the Manual

Bobbin, presser foot, seam guide, handle wheel, oh my?! When I got my sewing machine I had no idea what any of those knobs and dials on my machine were for or what they were called.

And since it was a hand me down a manual did not come with it. Luckily, we live in the digital age and I was able to find a copy of the original manual online.

If you’ve read my crochet posts you know that I don’t like following directions, but I highly recommend reading your manual.

The manual that comes with your sewing machine is a very important resource don’t throw it away.

Not only does it tell you how to properly use your machine. You will find diagrams showing you all the different parts of the machine and their functions.

It will also give you information on how to use the different stitches, what tension should be used for certain stitches, what kind of needle you should use for different kinds of fabric (Yes, there are different kinds of sewing needles!)

It also has a section that details common issues that you may have with your machine and how to fix them.

2. Start with the Basic Sewing Supplies

When I started sewing I didn’t have everything I needed. Which meant I had to make several trips to the store to pick up various supplies.

So before you get all sew happy like I did, you’re going to need some basic sewing supplies. Besides your sewing machine you are going to need the following:

Thread

I started with an all-purpose thread from Walmart. It’s tempting to buy multiple colors, but I would recommend only buying two colors of thread to start with.

Preferably two contrasting colors. Using two contrasting colors makes it easier to learn how to thread your bobbin. It can also help you identify any issues you might have with your stitches.

Trust me your stash of thread will grow as you begin to sew more items.

Scissors

Invest in a good pair of scissors. I was using my kid’s scissors from school for a little while. Then my husband brought me a pair of flat bottom Fiskars scissors (angels singing)…let’s just say I will never use those kiddie scissors to cut fabric ever again!

It’s important that people in the house know that these scissors are off limits and are only to be used for cutting fabric. Using them on other types of material can dull the blades.

Seam Ripper

If you’re like me you will make a lot of mistakes when you first start sewing. (You won’t believe how difficult it is for me to sew a straight line, but more on that later.)

The seam ripper helps to remove the stitches you’ve created without destroying your fabric. Some machines will come with a small seam ripper, but I had to buy a bigger one.

Pins

Sewing Pins

Pins are important for holding your patterns pieces in place or when you need to cut fabric. Like thread, there are several different types of pins to choose from and they all serve their own purposes.

Ruler

Sewing requires you to take a lot of measurements. You will need a decent straight edge ruler to make sure your cuts are perfect and/or you can use a soft flexible tailors ruler like the one pictured.

If your not making clothing then you probably won’t need the soft ruler. However, when it comes to sewing you will always want to measure twice and cut once.

Tailors Chalk/Fabric Pencils

Tailor’s chalk is often used to trace out patterns onto your fabric. The chalk will wash off easily and not leave stains on your fabric.

Fabric pencils serve the same function and can be sharpened when the tip becomes dull.

Fabric

Brightly Colored Fabric

As a newbie, it can be tempting to buy all those cute fabrics that we see in the store. Your best bet is to hold off on the cute stuff.

Instead, buy some cheap cotton fabric for you to practice on. Goodwill is a great place to buy cheap bed sheets that you can cut up and practice sewing on.

Once you’re confident in using your machine, then you can buy the cute stuff.

Iron (Optional)

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I really dislike ironing. So imagine my surprise when I learned that there was a great deal of pressing involved in sewing. I’m sure it’s my least favorite part of sewing.

Most of us already have an iron in the house. So buying one isn’t necessary, but I find it tedious to have to go from one part of the house to press my fabric in the laundry room and then take it back to my craft room to continue sewing.

Having a dedicated iron would save me some travel time.

3.Start Simple

Superman Themed Bow-tie

I can be a bit gung- ho at times. Especially, when it comes to things that help me express my creative side. Or starting a new hobby.

I have a tendency to rush through the basics so that I can hurry up and create that masterpiece I see in my head.

I recommend that don’t do that. Take the time to learn the basics of sewing before you move on to more challenging endeavors.

Amber from Crazy Little Projects has a created an awesome free sewing class for newbies like you and me.

The class also has a dictionary that defines common sewing terms and projects that you can complete after each lesson to hone your skills.

I haven’t mentioned much about patterns, but if you’re going to buy a clothing pattern I would suggest starting out with the easiest pattern available and then work your way up to the harder things, like dresses.

4.Youtube Is Your Friend

I’m a hands-on learner and usually, I’m pretty good at following written tutorials, but sometimes I just need to watch a video to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.

If you’re a visual learner youtube will be your best friend when it comes to learning how to sew or troubleshooting issues with your machine.

I couldn’t figure out how to thread the bobbin in my sewing machine for the longest time. After almost giving up I remembered the wonderful world of youtube.

It was there that I found a video on how to thread the bobbin for my machine and was finally able to get on my way to sewing like a real seamstress. ( I’m not that good yet, but I’m working on it.)

I also had an issue with learning how to read patterns and how to buy fabric. I found a youtube video for that too.

There are also videos on how to sew different types of garments and accessories. I found a video on how to sew women’s underwear (gasp)! I don’t think I’ll be trying that one, but you never know.

Right now I’ve got my eye on a youtube tutorial that shows you how to turn a men’s dress shirt into a toddler dress. But first I need to try to make something a little simpler…like kids pajama pants or something.

5. Have Fun

My final piece of advice is to have fun and enjoy the creative process! Don’t get caught up in the fact that you still can’t sew a straight line to save your life! (They tell me there is a hack to help you with that.)

Like any new task you take on, it will be full of mistakes and frustrations. Seriously, do you know how many tries it took me to make that Superman bow tie?!

But I finally figured it out and it came out better than I could have imagined.

I hope this little bit of advice will help you get started on your own sewing adventure. If I forgot something please let me know in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

How To Crush Your New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is finally here! We’ve made it past New Years Day and we’re ready to start tackling our New Year’s resolutions!

This year will be the year that you’ll finally lose that weight, start that business, finish that degree and spend more time with your family!

Yes, this year will be the year!

And then…it’s March and our resolutions have fallen to the wayside. We’ve slipped back into our old habits for one reason or another. And we’ve resigned ourselves to try again next year.

But what if that doesn’t have to be the case. What if there was a way we could crush every resolution we’ve set this year?! Are you ready to try it?

Alrighty then! Here are 5 tips to help keep those pesky New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Ditch the Resolutions

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In the spirit of being transparent, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Instead of making a long list of vague resolutions like losing weight, saving money, or getting out of debt my family and I make New Year’s goals instead.

Why is a goal better than a resolution? Goals tend to be more specific, which makes them a little easier to tackle.

When you go to the gym and work with a trainer one of the first questions they ask you is what your fitness goals are: Do you want to lose fat? Build muscle? Or just tone up a little?

Goals give you something to focus on and cause you to think about HOW you’re going to achieve it. For example look at these two statements: I’m going to get out of debt this year (resolution). or I’m going to pay off one credit card this year (goal).

Which one sounds more manageable? The resolution sounds a bit overwhelming, while the goal seems practical and something that can be easily worked towards.

2. Use SMART Goals

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So now that we’ve decided to ditch the resolution and trade them in for goals. I want to show you how to make those goals achievable.

When I was a teacher we were required to create SMART goals for our class assessments.

Before we switched to SMART goals my lessons plans would look something like this:

Objective: By the end of this lesson students will be able to identify the parts of the food web and how energy is transferred between each level.

Goal: Students can identify the parts of the food web and show the flow of energy on the ecology exam.

That sounds like an acceptable goal. What teacher doesn’t want their students to pass their quizzes and test?

Then our school district changed the way they wanted our lesson plans written and introduced us to SMART Goals.

What is a SMART goal and how is it different from a regular goal? Good question!

In order for something to be considered a SMART goal it has to meet the following criteria:

SMART Goals

As you can see, unlike a regular goal, smart goals tend to be very specific. If we go back to my original example:

Goal: Students can identify the parts of the food web and show the flow of energy on the ecology exam.

SMART Goal: Students will be able to identify the parts of the food web and transfer of energy with 90% accuracy on the unit exam. (FYI: these goals were more for the teacher than the students.)

But we’re not here to score well on tests. We’re here to create life goals!

And the process behind SMART goals can be used to achieve those life goals. (And it’s way easier, than those education goals. It took a lot of brain cells to get that right!)

This year I have a few different goals: losing weight, being a more consistent blogger, developing my spiritual relationship with God, and getting out of debt.

I’m sure many of you have at least 1 or 2 of these on your list. I’ll start with the easiest one and probably most common of all new years goals…losing weight!

After 3 kids and transitioning to being a SAHM. It hasn’t been easy to shed those pesky pounds.

2019 Goal # 1– To Lose 20 lbs.

Now let’s turn that into a SMART goal.

SMART Goal– By April 5th, 2019 I will have lost 20 lbs.

Is it truly a SMART Goal? We’ll let’s see..

Is it Specific…Yes,the target weight is 20 lbs.

Is it Measurable..Yes, I can measure how much weight I’m losing per month.

Is it Achievable…Yes, as long as I stick to my diet and exercise plan.

Is it Realistic…Yes, that’s about 6 lbs a month which is a safe and healthy rate of weight loss.

Is it Time-bound…Yes, I have 3 months to complete the goal.

Goal # 2: Get out of Debt

Ok, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a lot of student loan and credit card debt that I need to get rid of. And being a SAHM makes this part a little more challenging since I only work once a month.

SMART Goal: Pay an extra $25 towards my credit card with the lowest balance each month.

Is it Specific…Yes- the target is paying down my credit cards by and extra $25.

Is it Measurable…Yes, I can keep track of my balances with my monthly statements.

Is it Achievable…Yes, I can make an extra $25/month .

Is it Realistic…Yes, with the plan being to roll that extra money over into the next card when the other is paid off. (The Debt Snowball Method)

Is it Time-bound…No, I don’t have a specific date for when all of these cards will be paid off, but If I crunched the numbers I could probably come up with an actual date.

I’m not going to bore you with the rest of my goals. I think you get the picture.

SMART goals are a great way to help you break down your new year’s goals and transform them into something that you can manage and succeed at.

3. Don’t Go Overboard

I have A LOT of things I want to accomplish this year. I mentioned a few of my goals earlier, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

I could try to tackle them all this year, but when it comes to setting goals and being able to achieve them more is NOT better.

If I tried to achieve all of the plans that I have running around in this little head of mine I probably wouldn’t achieve any of them.

So my advice to you is to pick your top 3-5 goals and focus on those.

However, don’t toss out your long list. Many of us have goals that can be considered short-term and long-term goals.

A short-term goal is anything that can be completed in 1-4 months, while a long-term goal is anything that is going to take 5 months or longer to complete.

Yes, yes. I know this is not the technical wisdom on short and long-term goals, but we’re talking about stuff you can realistically complete in a year. It’s relative.

So if you finish one of your short-term goals early, then you can always add another one to the list.

4. Visualize

There is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your to-do list. In order to crush your goals this year, you need to have a place in your home where you can see them daily.

You can dedicate a whole wall in your house to your goals or you can just write it on a sheet of paper and tape it to the bathroom mirror.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you can see it. And when you complete a goal celebrate it! Throw yourself a mini-party.

And keep the completed goal on the board. So on those days when you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything you can look back at your paper and remind yourself that you finished one goal and you can knock out another one.

5. Breathe

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My final tip for you today is to remember to breathe and relax. Goals are just what they are goals. Something that you are trying to reach for.

It’s awesome if you complete the goal. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.

If I don’t lose 20 lbs by April 5th, but I’ve lost something or I went down a dress size. Then that’s still a success in my book.

If I can only manage to pay an extra $5 a month towards my credit cards, at least I’ve still taken a step to getting out of debt.

When your goals become a source of sadness and frustration they are no longer goals but have become unnecessary weights.

At that point it’s time to take a deep breath and re-evaluate your goals.

Maybe it wasn’t realistic or maybe the time to complete it wasn’t long enough. Or maybe life just happened.

But that’s the good thing about goals. You can always re-evaluate and start reaching for them all over again. Just don’t stop reaching for them and I’m sure you’ll succeed.

I hope that you crush each and every goal that you set this year.

If you’re excited about the New Year and all that you have planned leave me a “Yes!” in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro