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Welcome Back

welcome back

Welcome back to Afternoon Glow!

While I wrote a few times since I took a break, this marks my official return to the blog on a regular basis. I think I’m ready now to come back for real. Let’s see if it sticks this time.

The past few months were busy, to say the least. We made a trip back home to Ohio in December. It was my first time back in over 2 years. It wasn’t relaxing at all, but it was nice to see everyone we managed to see. I can’t say I will do that again for another couple years, though – it was exhausting!

The holidays were good. I ate way too much, and stayed up too late getting drunk and playing euchre with our in-laws. I also helped my nephew put together a few Lego sets (a tradition we started recently). By New Year’s Eve, I think we were all ready to end 2016 and move on!

2017 so far has not let up. We moved unexpectedly in February, which meant we (and by “we” I mean mostly myself) spent January scrambling to find a new place and get everything ready to go on short notice. It was a mad dash, but we got it all done. Life didn’t really get back to “normal” until last week.

Over my hiatus, I thought a lot about the future of Afternoon Glow. After watching several blogs fold last year, I almost followed suit. In a last-ditch effort to keep this going, I am making a few changes to how I do things from here on out.

A Relaxed Schedule

In the past, I felt a lot of pressure to stick to a Monday – Friday schedule. Even when I cut back to a MWF schedule, it sucked. I could never live up to posting 5 days a week. Something about scheduling it all out kills the fun for me. It didn’t help that I was doing everything on my own.

For now, I am going to post when I can. That might mean 5 days a week; it might mean only once. I want this to be spontaneous and fun again – and I can’t do that if everything is regimented.

Less Social Media

Another part of keeping things casual means less social media. Keeping all of that coordinated also kills the fun of blogging. I will do my best to let you know when I post (mostly on Twitter), but I can’t guarantee that I get it right every time. I may also post less frequently, and I’m probably shutting down the Facebook page (I never use it). You can still find me on Instagram and Twitter, though!

If you want to guarantee you’ll get my new posts, follow me on Bloglovin’!

Ditching Comments

You may find that I shut off the comments on some posts. Sometimes, I write posts that aren’t meant to be responded to – and yet people do (not nicely, I might add). I still maintain the power to remove comments I don’t like, but I also learned there are times I shouldn’t allow people to comment at all. It’s for my sanity, really.

No More Food and Home Posts

The focus of the blog is something I want to clarify for myself. The two categories I write about the least are food and home. Frankly, they are boring as shit to write about.

I plan to replace those posts with more beauty, style, life, travel, and personal content. Instead of writing about topics I don’t care about, I need to move on to topics I do. That might mean losing readers, but hopefully it also means gaining new ones!

So welcome back, and I hope you enjoy what’s to come!

Loving Lately: The Year of The Work

the year of the work

When I was a kid, I longed for a pen pal. I remember thinking how great it would be to have a friend on the other side of the world or country to talk to. We could bond over our favorite television shows, growing up, and silly things kids talk about. I tried a few times to keep up with old friends after we moved, but it never lasted long. Then the internet happened, and writing letters all but disappeared.

When Kayley Vandenberg, a Michigan-born blogger I’ve followed for years, wanted to start mailing out a monthly letter to her followers, I was hooked. She started “The Year of the Work” as a way to share her journey to find peace within herself, and to work out some things that were too intimate for an online forum. I look forward to getting her letter in the mail every month like I did when I was a kid waiting on a pen pal.

To honor the amount of work she puts into these letters, I make a point of taking each letter to a special place to read them. I also treat myself to a donut (a totally non-intentional thing). When I sit down to read, I take my time to pour through everything – often reading it a couple times. It’s a great time for me to relax and catch up with a woman who feels like an old friend. One month, I even ran into an old friend while reading my letter. He’s someone I know from college, and it was bittersweet to catch up with him. It was a nice reminder of a time when I used to have friends. (I’m only sort of joking about that…)

Kayley has also inspired me to start journaling more for myself, which has been a lifesaver lately. I don’t have people in my life I feel comfortable venting to. Most people I know have a tough time keeping things to themselves. Having a journal is a great alternative. I didn’t know I needed the journal this much. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I actually miss it on the days I don’t write.

Now all I need to do is muster up the guts to write her back someday! I’m working on it, girl!

If you have been a long-time follower of Kayley, and want to join The Year of The Work:

Click here to sign up for the mailing list, or to read more about Kayley’s project.

Click here to donate to cover the cost of your letters or sponsor someone else’s.

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary!

Today is Afternoon Glow’s 1 year blogiversary! I almost forgot about it completely, to be honest. I’ve been so busy lately with job hunting, blog planning, and doing about a zillion loads of laundry (does it ever end?). To celebrate the occasion, I’m sitting in my new favorite coffee shop and reflecting on the past year.

The blog started out as a space for me to share everything going on with my life. It’s included posts about cooking, home decor, beauty, hiking, and the occasional “reflective rant.” I worked with amazing brands, was featured on a few different sites, and made connections with people that will hopefully stick around for years to come. I had insanely inspiring runs mixed with weeks  of silence. There are things on here that I’m proud of, and some that I’m not. While I sit here and look back on it all, though, I’m more proud than not!

I’m looking forward to sitting down soon and narrowing down the blog’s focus, and figuring out what I want to accomplish (besides free stuff…though I’d hardly turn it down). I am inspired by my usual online haunts, and some of the amazing things they’re doing in the online and offline lives – and I want to join in the fun! This next year on Afternoon Glow is going to be a big one…I can feel it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and a safe and amazing 4th of July! I don’t have any plans yet, but I’m sure it’ll involve a trip to the beach for some fireworks!

 

Coming Back, Moving On

Twin Falls, WA

Hiking in Twin Falls, WA

Welcome back.

These past two months have been…enlightening. I should start off by saying that I had no intention of taking this long off from the blog. Time got away from me a bit.

It’s not that I haven’t been working on the blog – I’ve just been working on things that you can’t necessarily see (yet) or won’t ever see. I’m trying to figure out a blog redesign, which for my old-fart brain has been tough. Learning how to code has been the worst experience because, for some reason, I just can’t. I’ve never had a problem learning new things before, and it bothers me like crazy that no matter what I do, this shit still makes no sense to me. I could learn to speak fluent Russian faster than I could learn even the most basic html. So for now, the site will stay how it is until I can figure this shit out (or figure out a way around it, or find the money to pay someone else to do it for me…haha).

Failed Posts Collage

A lovely collage of photos I’ve taken for posts I’m never writing…

The other reason I haven’t posted for two months is that I felt incredibly uninspired to write the posts I’d been working on in April and May. I have hundreds of photos like the ones above that will probably never make it to the blog, and posts I’ve trashed after they were already done because I didn’t like how they turned out. Sometimes, you can start out with a good idea and it just doesn’t work – and for some reason, every post I worked on in May came out that way, so I scrapped them all. Having writer’s block would have been a better use of my time, to be honest.

So where do I go from here?

I’m going to let go of the 5-day posting schedule, and post whenever I feel like it. In addition to that, I want to mix in more personal posts with the usual “Top 5 Places To Drink Rosé” types of posts (note to self: write a post where I get to drink rosé in 5 different places). While I understand that might mean the blog’s focus will change a bit, I’m not happy with only writing things I think are “fluff” pieces – I have more to say than that.

I’ve also spent time lately getting more involved in the blogging community, and trying to form better connections with others in the same boat. A lot of bloggers have written about feeling stuck or uninspired lately, and sometimes it’s nice to cheer each other on for a change. There are amazing things happening out there, but sometimes it’s hard to see that when you’re stuck on your computer editing the hundredth hiking photo into submission.

I’m also considering starting a letter-writing club of some kind – like a pen pal program for bloggers. So many of us got our love for writing blogs from being pen pals as kids, and I think it would be cool to interact with other bloggers on paper, rather than always online. I miss that sometimes – and getting mail that isn’t bills is always welcome!

Anyway, before I go insane and keep writing for another hour, I should go.

I’ve got work to do.

Authenticity and Audience

authenticity_quote

Authenticity and Audience

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the connection between authenticity and audience in the blogging world. It’s a complicated topic for both bloggers and readers, and there is no singular answer for staying true to ourselves while keeping readers satisfied. Many others have tackled this recently, whether it means being more open with readers, reducing sponsored posts, or quitting entirely.

From my own experiences as a blogger, authenticity and audience are undeniably linked. The ability for me to be honest and open with my readers is entirely dependent on audience.

In the past, I wrote for a mostly anonymous audience. I kept my identity a secret, but the rest of my life was fair game. Those blogs were a place where I could openly share my passions, fears, dreams, and frustrations with readers who were mostly bloggers themselves. I loved being able to write when the mood hit me about any topic that was important to me at the time. It was an amazing time to be a blogger.

Now, I write for a combination of anonymous readers and people I know. The problem with knowing your reader in person is that content can easily suffer. Even posts where I feel I’m being more authentic sound like a watered-down version of my real life. My life is far from perfect, but if you read this blog you may not know that. I wish that I could share more about the things in my life that worry, frustrate, or motivate me – but fear often wins out, and I hit delete.

So from here on out, I’m making the decision to try. No one is perfect, least of all me, so I’m going to make an effort to include more posts about things that aren’t always perfectly edited to death. I need to learn how to write like I used to, and not worry so much about how people will take it. I also want to make this more of a community again – so here’s where you guys come in:

Comment!

Comment about what you read, about your own lives, questions you have, links you want to share, stories to tell, how terrible you think I am…whatever you want! I’ll even take some good-natured trolling if it means I get to read something other than the obligatory comments from my mom. She’s great and all, but I’m craving a community – not just one cheerleader who only says I’m great because she has to (she likes my sister more). 

2015 Year in Review

2015 Year in Review

Meal Planning 101 / Summer Nail Polish / Sweat List / Home Office Makeover

I thought it would be nice to end the year looking back at some of my favorite posts from 2015!

While this blog has only been around for 6 months, it has been a busy second half of the year. 85 posts in, and I still feel like I’m finding my legs. After looking back at this blog and my old one, I’m starting to figure out what I need to do in 2016. Here are just a few goals I have set for the coming year:

Add more personal style and home-related posts

I realized my “Style” section was mainly just beauty product reviews. I’m not great at taking photos of myself, so I will work to get better at that in 2016. I also didn’t get to do many home projects this year (thanks to having no budget), so I want to do more of those next year too.

Choose a visual style I actually like and stick with it

I’ve come a long way with my photography skills over the past year (thanks to a new camera), but I really want to start toying with a more consistent visual style. Right now, I mainly do clear, mildly saturated photos – which are great, but not the “look” I want the blog to have.

I also want to nail down the look of the blog, rather than using a standard theme – but that may be a while down the road. I learned a ton in graduate school about creating style guides and all that…and it’s time I put all that to good use.

Interact more with the blogging community

I’ve enjoyed getting to know people through blogging, and interacting with many of you who comment on the blog, but I can do more. I want to start meeting people who blog (particularly in the Seattle area), and find more ways to broaden my circle of internet friends! I also want to do more work with brands, and getting myself out there will definitely help me with that!

Get on a better schedule

I’m writing this the night before it’s posted, which is not smart. I’ve toyed with different schedules in the past, and I need to find one that actually works. I don’t know if this means I’ll post every day, every other day, or whenever I feel like it. I’ve abandoned a lot of posts over the last 6 months because I just couldn’t get them done, or by the time I sat down to write, they didn’t interest me anymore. I want to make sure I’m writing about things I enjoy, even if that means taking Afternoon Glow down to a few posts each week.

So, for the rest of the year, I’ll be sharing with you my favorite posts from my Food, Home, Life, and Style sections – as well as where I want each section to head in the coming year!

Well, I’m off to make some truffles and get things finalized for the holidays! Have a great rest of the year, and I’ll see you back here with amazing new content in 2016!

Welcome to December!

Christmas Door

My first homemade wreath from 2013

Welcome to December everyone!

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and is getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend! It seems like everyone in the blogosphere is already eyeballs-deep into Christmas posts, and I’m planning to add to it over the next few weeks!

This month is going to have the obligatory holiday posts, different ways to get ready for winter, and hopefully by the end I’ll wrap up the year with some nice reflections on the past, and looking forward to 2016.

I still can’t believe the year’s almost over, so I’m off to snuggle under a warm blanket and get to writing!