Local Heart, Global Soul

January 1, 2011

Postaday2011, Kiwi’s “10 Reasons” and Challenge…

Filed under: Blogging & Writing — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s the First of January, Happy New Year Everyone!!! I hope that each and every one of you has a happy and healthy 2011, filled with love and lots of laughter.

I originally had a very different post lined up for today but a bit of news hot off the WordPress bulletin got me thinking … and writing.

WordPress.com, (the platform on which this blog runs), is running a Challenge for Bloggers in 2011. The Challenge is designed to help bloggers who blog less frequently to blog more regularly, be that daily or weekly.

I’m already a blogger who blogs daily so posting more regularly than that isn’t really feasible, but I am interested in trying to make my writing and blog better and to encourage anyone thinking about starting a blog  to write about things that they are passionate about, hence this post.

WordPress’s  Scott Berkun outlines the Challenge in the following link:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/challenge-for-2011-want-to-blog-more-often/

Let me tell you with 10 Reasons, what Blogging means to me.  Blogging for me is a the sum of many parts. Here is a list of those parts and although I have numbered them, it’s important to mention that no one of these points is less important to me than the others, they are actually all interconnected and interwoven, they all have equal value.

First: it is a creative outlet. I have an excellent job that I enjoy, but it’s not one where I can flex my artistic and creative skills. Over time this frustrated me, until I realised that since I also enjoyed writing that I could utilize that , so I took the bull by the horns and started my blog.

Second: I have specific hobbies and passions. I’m an obsessive Foodie, I love taking photographs, I like artistic things, handwork, embroideries, cross-stitch, drawing, making paper, printing wood and lino-cuts. I’m a detail fanatic, and  adore natural materials like stone and wood. Wrought iron, carved stone-masonry and decorated tiles make me drool. Himself and I are travel fanatics. We like to go off the beaten track if possible, we love learning about new places, people and food. Thus I have plenty of passions to write about.

Third: We haul our children around on our travels with us.  Kiwi Daughter “went” on a trip to New Zealand when I was six months pregnant,  sadly for her there are no windows in my belly so she didn’t get to see much, but when she was three months of age I took her to Arizona USA, and basically she has been travelling regularly ever since. Young children will have a hazy recollection of the things they did a year ago, places they have been and things they have seen. I want to have a place where they can “revisit” their childhood travels, jog their memories with photos and bring back moments of their childhood that they might otherwise forget.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Fourth: I am “native” of two cultures but do not fit 100% into either.   I speak Dutch and English, plus some French.  I was brought up in New Zealand but have lived the last 18 years in The Netherlands. I feel both at home in both places but weirdly also feel like an ex-pat in both too.  I understand the problem of being “inside” but “outside”. I understand culture shock, homesickness, learning to integrate and the frustrations, limits, highs and lows of two very different societies. I’m no longer a  “newbie” in either culture ( if I ever could have been considered a “newbie” anyway). In an effort to not re-invent the wheel I hope to impart information  in my blog to people settling in The Netherlands that might make their transition easier and to people visiting who might want to see more of  The Netherlands though the eyes of  a local.

Fifth: I take a zillion billion photos, not only when we travel but regularly at home too. Now let’s be brutally honest here: You just know what usually happens to digital photos… they sit in folders clogging up your hard-drive slowing down your computer and almost never ever viewed.  If you do decide to view them then you are confronted with so many photos to view at once that even you will yawn and dread looking at your own holiday snaps. Overload. Blogging forces me to sort out my photos and to put them in a recognisable order and sequence. I blog about where they were taken and when. My photos become part of a Diary come Travel Journal, and since I weed out specifically identifying information for internet security reasons, I feel free to share my “journal” on the Internet.  If you have also traveled to these places you can comment, if you like the look of these places you might make plans to get there too one day and if you are not in a situation where such a trip is possible then at least you can still travel “virtually” and go there in spirit.

Sixth: I find unexpectedly that I very much enjoy making step-by-step tutorials. Be they for craft or for my favourite recipes, I enjoy “showing” someone with step by step photos how to achieve something new.  Pastry making is easier than it looks, so are Brandy Snaps or making Danish Pastries, but all of these have a “reputation” of being hard to master. Truth is that a very little practice goes a long long way and hopefully with detailed step-by-step photos to guide you, you too will conquer the fear that held you back and enjoy the tasty success of adding to your culinary skills. To be fair though, you can’t eat the craft tutorials so they are less tasty but the success mastering something new is no less satisfying.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Seventh: Bloggers delight in finding other Bloggers. You read them, they read you.  I have many other blogs bookmarked and subscribed to and some of them in particular touch my heart as kindred spirits. Maybe they are not Foodies or Photographers or Crafting, detail fanatics… but somewhere somehow they are human beings on my wave-length. They make me laugh, their blogs brighten my day. Who knows? I might even get to meet up with some of them one day. I never would have met these people or learned so much if I hadn’t started a blog myself.

Eighth: I want to leave a legacy. Yep that one sounds a little egotistical, so let me explain. As I get older I am getting enthused about history and genealogy. What if your Great Great Great Grandma and all the generations after her had left detailed accounts of how life was back then… how eye opening and amazing that would be.  And personal too, if you were related. We all know that places change, be it cities or countryside, old buildings disappear and new ones take their place,  cities grow, take over countryside, technology changes dramatically and I believe will continue to do so. I hope that one day my children and grandchildren etc  will also be Bloggers (or whatever they will be calling it far into the future) and that together we can leave a little slice of history behind for future generations to have a giggle at and probably feel sorry for us because of how “backwardly” we lived LOL.

Ninth: I write because I like to learn. If you have been lucky enough to have traveled, and fortunate enough to have met with locals, deviated away from the basic tourist haunts and souvenir touts, skipped the large chain hotels that deliver faceless, emotionless service to numbers err, guests in cloned looking rooms, then you will already know that the big things are in the little things. If you want to post your postcard then the postbox that you need to go looking for will look very different in the USA to the one in The Netherlands. The French and Italians eat a small breakfast and a large lunch… the English like a hot breakfast, and if it’s not bacon and eggs then the warmth pops out of the toaster in the form of toasted bread, they drink tea with that and the smallest spoon in the drawer is called a “teaspoon”.When the English make a sandwich they serve it “closed”  i.e. bread-filling-bread. The Dutch don’t do toast,  it’s bread for breakfast, usually “open” i.e. bread-filling and in restaurants you will be presented with a knife and fork to eat it with. We drink coffee with that.  The smallest spoon in the drawer in The Netherlands is called a “coffee spoon”  (“koffie lepel” in Dutch). My list on this subject grows all the time and I love to celebrate the small, everyday things. We all start the day with breakfast, but we all do it so differently around the world and it’s fun to step out of our own comfort zone of doing things and experience (first hand or via a blog)  the view when standing in someone else’s shoes. The little things make us different but show us how similar we are around the world at the same time. Thus, my Blog is very ordinary… and extra-ordinary.

… and the Tenth reason that I blog is simple:   It’s for fun.  Not for stats or for cash, not to beg a book offer or avertisments  (Heaven forbid) .. but for plain old relaxing,  old-fashioned enjoyment.  If you are a natural born writer you will know. You might deny it, as I did for years, but eventually the need to write will overwhelm you, the words will drip out of your fingers like leaks from your soul and you will be delighted to write about something close to your heart.  There is the key… write about what you know, about what tugs your heart-strings and makes your eyes light up: humour, theater, history, fashion, travel, kids, politics, jobs, social awareness, environmental issues, parenting, arts… you will find the full list in a large dictionary located between the letters “A” and “Z”… it doesn’t matter what your passion is, but it does matter that you are passionate about something. THAT’S what makes blogging Fun.

So my challenge(s) to you are:

A) these are my 10  Reasons for Blogging… what are yours? ( it doesn’t have to be as many as ten)

B) If there is a latent writer inside you and you are inspired to unplug it, then please leave a comment to let me know what your new blog is all about.

My New Year’s Wish for you is that  not matter if from the writing or reading side of the page, that 2011 is full of some brilliant blog posts! Happy New Year!!!

February 21, 2010

A quick and easy craft project that’s literally Child’s Play…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,The Hague — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I try to read other people’s blogs and make a comment when something catches my eye…

Yesterday I was reading Mallory Murray’s blog ” Modern Mind, Vintage Heart-  Handcrafted, Homemade, Heartfelt”  a blog also on WordPress.

On February 17th   Mallory posted an crafty idea that I had never seen before and it took my fancy. It can be found at the link the the bottom of this post.

It’s a little square of fabric that has little loops of ribbon sticking out that babies and play with, feel and suck. What a great idea !

A neighbour just down the street had a baby boy  at Christmas time, so this unusual idea really appealed to me. I resolved to make it some time.

Today my teeth are feeling better and some medication is helping with the cold so after a nap this morning I bought my sewing machine out to the dining room table so that a friend could sew a little project that she had planned, and she had a few scraps of fabric left over, which I duly scrounged err,  I mean recycled quickly into a little gift for our little newest  little neighbour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Thanks Mallory for the inspiration…. this took no time at all to stitch, if you don’t count the time  it took me to re-pin the ribbons so that the loops were on the inside with the tails sticking out, when the right sides of the fabric were together. (Luckily the penny dropped before I actually started sewing.)

I did take one change and one short-cut. The change was to add two thin pieces of fabric to the inside of the square to make it a bit firmer.  The short-cut was  I found that it easier to leave a little unsewn  piece between the last ribbon and the corner on two sides, this meant that when I turned it though afterwards that I would have had to fashion those two edges back into a corner.

It was more fuss that I was up for with this cold and a simple tuck under on the diagonal was quicker and easier so I  did that instead.

Cool little project and fun to stitch. Thanks!

Here’s the link to Mallory’s page and the original idea.

http://mallorymurray.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/quick-cute-baby-gift-project/

January 27, 2010

So you think you want to Blog?… and what makes a good Blogger?

I have been amazed then I am looking at other blogs at how many start out with a heap of excellent posts, and then fizzle out after a few weeks or months into the ether… or where the entries get further and further apart until there are months and months between posts.

Some of them are great Blogs, it’s just a pity that there are so few posts. (Yes, naturally I’m talking about Blogs that are years old and not Blogs started a few weeks or months ago)

I’m also rather surprised and bemused at the number of people who seem to expect that if they post their very first blog post tomorrow, that they will have hundreds of thousands of “hits” on their blog site the day after. Seriously!..,  …and that somehow they will be raking in millions  (presumably in advertising revenue) shortly after that because so many people will be wanting to visit their blog.

Sorry, but I don’t get it.  Are they writing for revenue or because they love  to write?  If you want to get paid for writing then I’d suggest a career in Journalism and work your way up, like a zillion other journalists are trying to do.. The only other way to get any revenue at all is to go to a blog hosting site that allows adverts. These websites usually aren’t free, you have to pay for them. Have these get-rich-quick-hopefuls actually sat down and worked out how many hits you would need just to cover your monthly site fees?
If you do the math then you will find that the number of new organic daily hits needed woud be in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. Me, I don’t like adverts much… that exactly why I chose ” WordPress” as a blog hosting site, No Adverts. Just (hopefully) the interesting stuff.

I write because I love writing… it’s a creative outlet that gives me great pleasure to do.  I scribble my own song lyrics, I doodle and draw, I cook and sew and embroider. It’s like a creative leak that just seeps out at every opportunity.  In a very round-a-bout way I also blog for my kids.

I have heard too often parents who said, “oh yes, my kids did funny things when they were little too, but gosh  it’s so long ago that I’ve forgotten most of them now..”  Guess what,, your kids would love you to remember  these very personal little snippets for them and to share with them when they are older so that you can have a laugh together.

That’s also the reason that I like to document our travels, my Blog is my travel diary, it’s just an on-line one that I share and not a closed one with a lock and a lot of dust. Ok granted my deepest darkest secrets are not written down (parents of four and eight years olds have no secrets anyway,your kids will blab your age to any stranger who asks)  Having my diary as the “virtual edition” it has the added bonus that I can pack friends and family and other visitors to my Blog into my suitcase and take them on a virtual tour and share our experiences.

Are all your holiday photos taking up acres of space on your hard drive?, and maybe the last person you showed them to was the person sitting next to you at the picnic table just after you snapped your hubby cartwheeling into the water after a Tube ride too far.) AND that was in the viewfinder of the camera, not on the computer at all)
Of course you mean to get around to putting them into one of those on-line photo albums where you can get a bound paper copy edition printed and sent to you… ah ha good intentions I know them well, I’ve been having those good intentions for several years now.

Blogging has forced me to make my “photo album” as I go.. to “deal” with my photos in a more timely manner and to get ornganised.
I carry a camera around all the time, and I’m a detail fanatic, so it’s no surprise that photography is an important feature of most of my blog posts. So, What do you want to blog about? Having a focus and a goal is important, in fact it’s the most important thing of all.

How do you know if you would make a good blogger?  Well, first off I’d suggest that you start writing. Off line… keep a computer file where you jot everything down, and see where that file takes you. If you  find that the initial enthusiasm wears off after a few pages and you can’t keep adding entries  after a few weeks, then probably blogging isn’t for you.

Write what you know about. Write about things that you are passionate about. Write about things that you do and not about what you think you “might do” sometime, somewhere in the distant future. Keep it real and give people real content to read. Content is everything… without content you are nothing. Look for something that you know about, are passionate about, that screams YOU… that is true to YOU.

Then sit down, take a deep breath and remember that there are millions and millions of Blogs out there on the Web, and every day thousands more are being added.

Blog for yourself and your love of writing, and if by some chance someone pops in from the World Wide Web and reads  (and likes) what you have written, then Bravo….  you have posted something that gave someone else a smile, encouragement, or help they were looking for or just a pleasant read during their day.

If out of the zillions of Blogs out there a single soul came and visited yours, then pat yourself on the back… that’s a complete bonus.

It’s a lot like sport, a very very few will end up well known and famous, the majority will train long hours in the empty stadium alone, and they may or may not even make the cut in the end to be selected. If you love your sport of writing,  that won’t actually matter at all, the  passion and love of writing is the most basic reason why you should be  Blogging.

So.. are you a blogger? I hope so, for some at least, writing is excellent for the soul.

Blog at WordPress.com.