Memories Of A Lonely Dirt Road


When I was a child, I could walk through the chicken yard to an old dilapidated gate. Once I opened the gate, it was a straight downward slope to the ground below. Then I would find myself on this lonely dirt road. 

For some reason, I don't really recall much of the road in one direction, to my left. I see it briefly and then it fades away. I more vividly remember the road that hitched to the right. 

Down a ways, it intersected with another road where fields of tall grass loomed as far as the eye could see. I could then take that road to my great-aunt Bertha's house. 
 
It was an idyllic setting really. Shaded and quiet. A lonely dirt road edged by weeds and rarely frequented.


Back then, I felt lucky to have that stretch of road to myself. To poke at the brush with sticks and gather rocks for my pockets.

At my great-aunt's house, what I most remember is her garden out back. It seemed to stretch to infinity with row upon row of tall cornstalks that blocked whatever lay beyond. 

We all had big gardens out in the country. Fresh vegetables and fruit fed us through summers, and then were canned to feed us through winter as well.

 
This particular memory only came back to me a few months ago out of the blue. I don't know what summoned it up. 

I found that if I laid awake at night and emptied my mind of the detritus of my day, bits and pieces of that time would slowly flow back to me.

A little girl with dark curly hair not easily tamed, meandering along a stretch of road surrounded by cow fields. Gathering rocks along the way. 

I can see that place easily now, a memory captured and held in place. Framed by low hanging trees on either side of vast fields, with a red dirt road running down the middle.


Seasonal Changes In The Garden


When I lived in East Texas, I had lots of Eastern bluebirds visit my garden. They don't visit me here, so I enjoy looking at the Eastern bluebird on the cover of this book displayed on my coffee table. 


It has rained the past few days and cooled off a bit, for which I'm very grateful. 

I still haven't started the wall project. It usually isn't a good idea to start something like this in very humid weather.

And frankly, I'm using that as an excuse too. Because I'm not anxious to start this particular project. Ugh!

So I'm enjoying the cooler weather and trying not to look at the wall with its gooey mess. And when I sit here on my couch, it is behind me, so it's easier to put out of my mind.


From time to time I go out on the patio and take in the beauty of the Sedum Autumn Joy with its resplendent rusty blossoms.

 
With the recently cooler weather this week, I'm seeing new growth on some of the other plants, as in the daisy above. I love to watch the petals unfold.

 
The chocolate mint smells so wonderful as it winds and meanders between the pots and plants. I guess the insects don't much like it, as the leaves aren't as eaten up as many of the other plants.


Take time if you can to enjoy these changes in nature. 

The wonderful thing about seasonal weather is being able to watch the daily ebbs and flows of your garden. I feel so calm as I walk among the container plants on the patio. Watching the birds. The subtle fading of the tree leaves. 

So much to enjoy. 

I think of the utter devastation in Puerto Rico. The people scrounging for food and water. Walking miles for just a bit of gas for generators. And sweating through their days without the benefit of power for air conditioning.

Such a horrible tragedy that has affected so many in so short a time.

And I realize I have much to be grateful for.


A Blogger's Advice On Starting A Blog


Some of you have asked me about starting a blog. So I will share my experience and give you my pointers.

1. Decide on a blogging platform 
2. Decide on the genre you want to blog about
3. Decide on a name for your blog
4. Decide on a blogging schedule you can adhere to
5. What you will need to be a blogger
6. What you will need to learn
7. How to find success as a blogger
8. Trolls & other uglies
9. How to make money blogging
10. How to gain followers



The Platform
Decide on a platform. By that, I mean where you will blog. 

There is the free Blogger, which I use. And then there's platforms like Wordpress.com and Typepad. I believe Wordpress.com is free. You might choose Wordpress.org, but you would have to pay for a host.

I was on Wordpress.org for one year. But I came back to Blogger. I didn't want to pay for the host anymore, plus I got hacked there.  However many bloggers truly love the versatility of Wordpress.org. 

But if you go that route, know that it is more complicated. It all depends on how much you want to initially take on. If you're really good with HTML/computer design, you might want to just go for it.

I know enough to know that I don't know enough!

Google owns Blogger, which is blogspot. The only thing you have to pay for is space for your photos should you need it. I think I pay about $20 a year.

The frustration with Blogger is that there is no one to call should you have trouble. But there are Facebook groups you can join, as I have, and we help one another. 

There are bloggers that will tell you that you can't have a successful blog on Blogger; that you can't make money unless you go to Wordpress.org. I beg to differ. I make money with Blogger. 

I'm not getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. I really don't know why some say this. It is simply untrue.

You will want to have a nice design that people find appealing. 

These days you can get free or cheap templates to make your blog look quite professional. My template was $30. It is tax deductible because I am self-employed. 

Blogger also has free templates. But I like third-party templates.

You could also hire a designer if you don't mind spending the money. With a designer, you would get a more professional design/logo. So if you're brand new you might want to look into this option.



The Genre
By this I mean what you will blog about. I blog primarily about decorating and gardening. And my daily life. You could choose cooking or really anything you want. 

There are mom blogs, travel blogs, book blogs. Anything that has an audience can be blogged about. Maybe you will find a niche that isn't heavily populated, and you fill that need.

But choose something that you're really passionate about.

You will want to do some research with the genre you're interested in blogging about. In other words, dig into blogs that are about this topic in order to see what's out there and to help you decide on your own approach.



The Name
Decide on a name for your blog. I would say try not to make it too convoluted. You want people to be able to search and find you.

If you choose Blogger, you will need to go to Blogger.com and type your chosen name/URL in to see if it is available. You will most likely have to come up with different variations for your URL in order to find a name that isn't already taken.

Your blog name does not necessarily have to match the blog address. Mine does, but if you really have your heart set on a certain name and it simply isn't available, you can create a different blog URL/address for your blog.

If you want to be a com, you can get a .com from somewhere like Godaddy.com. That's where I got mine. You will need to pay a fee each year. It is under $20 I believe there. But don't quote me on it.

I started off with http://cozylittlehouse.blogspot.com. I leased the .com a few years down the line.



The Schedule
If you want a successful blog, especially if you ultimately want to make money with your blog, you will need to blog with regularity to build up a readership.

This does not mean that you will have to blog every day as I do. But more often than not, the more you post, the more money you will make. This is not as important in the very beginning, as it takes time to build up enough of a readership to make money.

If you don't want to post every day, then try to figure out how often you think you would be able to devote to your blog. I would suggest at least two times per week. Less than once or twice a week and you kind of get lost in the mix. 

There are tons of blogs out there. So you have a lot of competition. You will need to make a commitment that you think you can keep.


 
What You Will Need
Camera
Computer
Willingness to learn

That's what you need to start blogging. Other things can come later.



What You Will Need To Learn
You will need to learn photography. I didn't take lessons or learn how to use my camera manually. I just put it on Automatic, and never use flash. I was interested in photography before I began my blog.

Many bloggers learn how to use the manual settings on their camera. I have not done that.

As with anything, the more you do something the better you get at it.



How To Find Success In The Blogging World
If you want to mix with other bloggers and gain a following, it is helpful to visit a lot of blogs in your genre and comment.

If you comment there is a likelihood that other bloggers will come visit you and comment on your blog as well. This isn't as prevalent as it once was. Back in the day, most of us commented. I still do.

Many bloggers just put it out there. For whatever reason they might not read or comment on other blogs. To each their own.

I like the social aspect of blogging, since I'm not very social in real life. It gives me an outlet and allows me to make online friends.




Trolls & Other Uglies
Unless you're very lucky, there will be mean people out there that will try to stick a pin in your balloon once in awhile by leaving a mean comment. 
 You can't be successful at much of anything if you are thin skinned to the point that hurtful words absolutely paralyze you.



 Can You Make Money With A Blog?
Well at first you probably can't. It was two years before I even monetized my blog. I was getting divorced and I needed a way to make money.

I am lucky to have an annuity I share with my ex. However, should he die, I will lose that. And I'll have to figure out how to up my game somehow.

Life is precarious. You don't know what will happen tomorrow or the day after that. So you just do what you can and keep going. 

There is the occasional blogger that starts a blog and it just takes off like wild fire. But they are few and far between.



How I Make Money Blogging
I make money with an ad network. 

In the early days I placed ads on my site myself. And you can certainly do that. 

But over time blogging became more lucrative and various companies formed blog networks. Bloggers sign up to become part of these networks, and the companies get the ads for you.

With most networks, you typically have to have a certain number of page views per month for them to accept you. I am with an ad company named Adthrive and they require at least 100,000 page views per month. But there are others that allow viewer than that.

You make a certain amount of money per thousand page views, and that amount will change daily. I might make $40+ one day and over hundred another. So some days I don't even make minimum wage! (Now you see why I'm frugal.)

So if you are the only wage earner in your family, you will need to be disciplined enough to save money and be frugal. 

I won't say it's easy because it isn't. But it's what I choose to do, so I have adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate it.
 

How To Get Followers
Comment on other blogs

Join weekly meme parties to gain exposure (I have memes, or link parties, listed at the top of my blog)

Join social media outlets to get the word out 

Link to other bloggers

Post consistently


Learning As You Go 
What you've just read is just the tip of the iceberg. You will probably have other questions. Put them in the comments or email me and I'll be happy to answer.

I love blogging. I am a pretty disciplined person, so I post every day. But I live alone and answer to myself.

I taught myself to take decent photos. I learned to edit photos. I read everything about blogging that I could get my hands on that helped me to move forward.

I comment on other blogs. I put my post on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest every day. I don't have a terribly big following on FB or Google+. But I have a fair amount of Pinterest followers, which helps with page views.

In closing, remember that everyone is good at something. I was a journalism student in college. I like to write and take photos. And this is what I know and love to do.

There are lots of things to learn. I could go on and on. But this is enough to start with.

I have a Pinterest board of blog tips. If you want to check it out, click here.



An Unfortunate Wallpaper Experience


I got up yesterday morning and headed out to run errands. I needed some items from Lowes in order to patch the wall where I took the supposedly removable wallpaper down before I can paint it.

The good folks at Lowes were quite aware of the goo problem left behind from removable wallpaper, and they steered me to Zinsser primer. They told me to apply it with a paint brush/roller right over the goo.

Sounds a little weird to me, but that's what they said. I thought I'd have to clean the goo off somehow first. What they suggested is Zinsser Bull's Eye 123. So that's what I got.

In terms of paint for this particular wall, I really wanted to go with the tan/khaki paint option when I get to the painting phase. And if that long wall didn't extend all the way through my dining space, I probably would. 

But I was afraid that the tan and white together would look odd on that very long wall, even if I separated it with trim. And I'm not prepared to paint more than one room right now. 

Not only that, but I knew that I'd have to tape off the ceiling so I wouldn't get the tan paint on the white ceiling. And that means a lot of time on a step ladder. I'm trying very hard to avoid the step ladder.


I ended up getting plain white semi-gloss paint. Probably the one I used around Christmas on the dining area walls, but I'm not sure. 

I know I bought it right off the shelf and didn't have it mixed last time I painted the walls. But I'm not sure it is the same paint, so I might end up with more problems.

I know a lot of people are picky about picking out paint, but I'm not. White is white to me.

This supposedly removable wallpaper has already ended up costing me over a hundred bucks. Paint isn't cheap these days. Neither was the Zinsser or the extender for the paint roller I had to get so I won't have to be up on a step ladder. Or the stuff to patch the walls. 

Word of caution: Do not put removable wallpaper on your wall unless you're prepared to do a lot of work on the wall when you decide to remove it.  

I will have to take my time with this project. Normally I would have gotten this stuff home and started working on the wall that very day. But lately I have to do a bit at a time and rest up. 

The wall will get done when it gets done.

 
Last week after dark I saw either a very large rat or a possum slowly walking along the top of the fence. My neighbor told me that a possum lives out there. Otherwise it was a very large rat.

If you've been reading very long you might remember that we have ducks living here too.

Someone had the ducks as pets years ago, but moved away and left them behind. They haven't flown off, so I guess they consider this home. 

The guy that cleans the pool hates them. Too bad we don't have a pond. 

Possums and ducks right in the middle of the city. I often hear birds chirping and ducks quacking. Pretty wild.



Frugal Living Tips

 
Do you ever get the hankering for ham, but don't really want to cook one? 

I live alone and the idea of cooking a ham doesn't really appeal to me. So I've started going to my grocery store deli and asking for three 1/4 inch slices of my favorite Virginia smoked ham. For less than $5 I have meat for three meals.

I fix some side dishes and eat one slice each evening for three nights. It's mighty tasty. I don't mine eating the same meat three days in a row.

Sometimes I get the midday meal my grocery store serves at their little restaurant in the store at noon; meat and two sides. Then I take it home and split it into two meals. Just heat it up in the microwave or oven.

When I cook, I always freeze meals for later. Make a big meal in the crock pot and you'll have plenty of food to freeze individual meals for one or two.


When I order Chinese food at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Chopsticks, I go in before 4 p.m., when the lunch menu ends. I order two lunchtime meals and take it home. So I get the lunchtime price and have meals for two evenings and just heat it up.

Another thing I like to get is the turkey sandwich at Arbys. I take it home, eat one half and put the other half in the fridge for later. Personally I like it better heated up to my specifications anyway. Plus I often get coupons in the mail.

I don't shop in the Walmart store. But I do shop Walmart.com quite a bit. Buy $35 worth and you get free two day shipping on most items. 

I paid for Amazon.com Prime this year, which is about $100. Not so sure I will next year. This was my first year to do that. But I'll have to look at all my options and see if it's worth the cost. 
 
I do order a lot of things online, but I hate to pay shipping costs. So I tend not to order anything until I have enough in my Cart to get free shipping. Sure helps and I don't have to use my car and pay for gas.

I buy all prescription dog food for the pupsters online at Chewy.com. Free shipping and most of the time I get it in less than 48 hours. Last time I got it the very next day! Don't even know how they do that. 


Another way to save money is to bundle at least three errands into one outing. I try to always do that if I possibly can. I plan on where to go based on the shortest routes to save on gas.

My car is 11 years old and I doubt I'll ever buy another one. So I'm trying my best to get all I can out of it. 

I have close to 44,500 miles on my vehicle right now. The only things I've had done are oil changes, which I know are very important. And I've purchased four tires.


Even though I live in an apartment, as you know I am fortunate to have a large patio. I plant a lot of herbs every year. I always have at least one tomato plant. 

You can garden in containers and still get a lot of good eating from a small patio or balcony garden. 

I have really enjoyed the chives this year. Don't know that I can get through the winter without my fresh chives, so I might plant a small pot and put it in my kitchen window. Along with a few other favorite herbs.

Herbs are pretty hardy plants. Just give them sun and don't over water!

As you all know I had them take my stove when I moved in so I could have a washer and hook the hose up to my sink when I do laundry. I've found that it doesn't heat up the place cooking in smaller appliances. I don't miss a big stove at all. So that was a win-win for me!

Please add your own personal frugal tips in the comments. We'd all love to read them. 



Sticky Wallpaper & Sleeping Dogs


Lawsy, it's hot out there. When is fall going to visit Oklahoma?

I water the plants in the morning, and just hours later everything is withered looking and limp. And then I water again. 

Guess what I took on yesterday? I tore down the wallpaper behind my couch. 

It was supposed to be removable wallpaper, but it tore paper off the wall. I will have to patch various places before painting. And that's after I get the sticky goo off the wall.  

 
Why did I do such a thing? Well, I got tired of the look. Plus there were bubbles I couldn't work out no matter what I tried. So I just decided to take it down and repaint.

With the heat and humidity outside, which just zaps you, it may take me awhile to get it all done. 
 
I'm going to look into getting one of those long handles for painting so I don't have to keep getting up on step ladders when I paint it. 

I'm debating if I want to try to match the white of the other walls, since I don't have any leftover white paint. Or maybe paint it the light tan color that surrounds my kitchen sink. Not the whole living room, just that wall.


For those of you that have a dog, I have a question for you. When your dog is sleeping, does he/she sometimes roll their eyes to the back of their head and twitch? 

I've never seen Charlie do that, but Abi does. Her body twitches and she makes little sounds and her eyes roll around. I don't know if she's having a dream or what's going on. Frankly she looks a bit possessed when this happens!

I try not to laugh because I don't want to wake her up. It's quite entertaining to watch.


Ah, Fall...


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus

Every year at this time, the Sedum Autumn Joy turns this glorious rust color you see above. 

It starts changing in the last weeks of August. As the days and weeks pass, the color predictably deepens.


Farther down the patio fence, you see some plants, like the chartreuse sweet potato vine, at the very peak of lush. 

The peppermint next to it is full of scent and growing wildly in every nook and cranny. The plants and flowers have reached out to one another until they blended. It is hard to see where one ends and the other begins.

This is the time of summer's last stand. 

Fall has arrived. On the calendar at least. Not in the temperature. 

Not yet.


The Black-eyed Susan is all eye and no flowers. What's left of the golden flower petals have dried up and turned under.



The purple-leafed sweet potato vine curls around the driftwood, clinging to the end of summer. 


The patio garden is going through the motions as it always does year after year. The vines trail and curl and reach toward the sun. 

Very soon the plants will, together as one, wave goodbye and sleep until spring.


“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” ― Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost



 

I Woke Up With A Bang


I woke up with a real bang the other day. As in my bed broke and fell. My beloved $35 bed that I painted white years ago gave out. 

I got up and started my coffee and tried to figure out what to do.

I order things online a lot. I mulled that option. But the problem with that is that I'm alone doing all the heavy lifting. And lifting is very hard on my ankle.

Years ago I would have just tackled the project by myself. I'd have found a used bed and gone to get it and put it together myself. But after the whole ankle thing, I have learned that I have to give these things more thought.

So I went to Ashley Furniture where I bought my couch. I knew I probably wouldn't have much of a selection, as full-size beds are practically dinosaurs now. But I knew I could get it delivered and set up. And I wouldn't have to call my daughter for help.

The guy showed me a brown contemporary bed with horizontal slats in the headboard, and then a sort of white distressed bed that had a solid headboard. 

The more distressed one was about $100 more. But I knew I'd never be happy with the contemporary bed. Plus I'd end up dusting all those horizontal slats.

They were supposed to deliver it, but that option, after much discourse (angry words), didn't work out. So I ended up having to call my daughter anyway. And my son-in-law saved the day.



I have to say that I was relieved not to have strange delivery men in my home.

I have a question for you single women: Do you dislike having strange delivery men at your door, especially if it might be well after dark?

When I was a young woman, I didn't seem to have these fears. I was able-bodied and it just didn't enter my mind to be so cautious. Well, I was cautious, just not this cautious.

I don't know if you get more wise as you age, or you just become more cautious. Or maybe cautiousness comes with wisdom.

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to take photos of the bed in my bedroom, but I took a photo off the Ashley website to show you.


Luckily I managed to pay off my laptop last month, because this went on the standby credit card. It was half the price of my laptop though, so that's a bit of good news. 

I paid a little less than $400 for this bed. (Or my credit card did.) And my SIL saved me the $60 delivery fee.

The support of this bed is better than any other bed I recall sleeping on.  

This one has multiple legs for support from the floor to the bed, unlike the pieces of wood I had spaced horizontally across my old bed rails. As soon as I laid down on it, I could tell there was a vast difference in support.

I had wondered why my just-over-a-year-old mattress wasn't feeling so great anymore. It didn't have good support. My son-in-law said that this is why it broke. Live and learn.

If you like the distressed look, you would probably love this bed. You can also get the chest of drawers, dresser/mirror and night stand, but I won't be getting any of that. At least not in the foreseeable future. I don't like to go overboard on a credit card. 

If you want to check the Willowton bed out, here is the link. It is only showing queen and king size, but the store had the double size. The link is showing the price for the queen-sized bed.