let's talk about talkin'

I'm speaking in a few weeks at the Altitude Design Summit on "Growing and Maintaining a Small Blog with Pride", a topic of my own design. I am heading up a roundtable, and I have so much I'd like to talk about. Because there are two really great panels and all the other fabulous roundtables occurring at the same time as mine, I'm not sure I'm going to get a chance to speak with many people at all. So I'd love to share what I'm thinking about here because I have a lot to say, and because I'd love your feedback!

Last June I proposed my topic to Gabrielle Blair, author of the blog Design Mom and one of the founders of the Alt Summit. The gist of it was me wanting to talk to the "smaller" blog writer about how to keep putting it out there and how to keep your head up, even it your readership is nothing near you what think it should be.

My readership is pretty low given all the exposure I've had in the past year. No matter where I've been featured, very few people follow me back here and stay. That used to really befuddle me and get me down. I'd get so high off of the big spikes and then confused when the stats went back down again. Eventually I had to make peace with it, and decide if I wanted to keep going for me and for fun, because I really love writing here, I'd have to start forgetting about the numbers. What helped me to do that was the positive feedback I had received from readers, Facebook and twitter friends, family and fans, and the fact that anyone had bothered to feature me at all. It really matters to me that someone is reading; the question is how many readers matter? I discovered that no, it's okay to not be a big blog, and yes, it's okay to want some exposure and validation!

For my roundtable, there will the practical stuff to talk about, and then a little deeper soul searching. That's the "with pride" part. I'm sure our conversation will expand this scope, but here's where we'll start.

The Practical:
Ways to gain exposure, find friends, and get mirroring and support for your work.

What are ways to find exposure for your original ideas?
  • Submitting work to places specifically soliciting ideas.
  • Building relationships with writers and editors, who might then mine your blog independently for more of your great, original stuff.
  • Linking back to other blogs. I'm sure this is how Martha Stewart Blog found me.
  • Selective advertising. 
What are methods to forge authentic relationships online and/or with other creative bloggers in real life?
  • Join established blogging communities. My participation in NaBloPoMo at BlogHer for three months was how I found my four best bloggy-type friends, and I will always support them.
  • Reach out to people you share commonalities with, like bloggers who use the same medium in their art that you do, or bloggers that live in your area. This doesn't always work, but I do have a few friends in real life that I met online for these reasons, and I'm glad I reached out to them. 
  • Workshops and societies. If you're lucky enough to have something like this roll through your town, go!

The Soul Searching:

Defining you goals and what fulfills you.

This is huge, because I think a lot of people don't really know or think about it at first. I didn't, at the beginning. When I started blogging I was posting how I spent summer vacation with my kids, then I started thinking about what else I could share here, then I wanted EVERYONE to see what I was doing.

That lasted for quite a while, ending up in a shameful mess of self-promotional bad internet etiquette perpetrated by yours truly. Once time I reached out to a very successful food blogger in the Bay Area, telling her how fabulous I was and how much I should be included in her circles, really believing it, because I am creative and I want to be surrounded by creativity. She sent me back a scathing email, and the part that hurt the most when she wrote "It seems like you want more than anything to have a popular website". It stung for weeks, because who wants to look like they just want to have a popular website? Maybe that's what you want, but the last thing you want is to look like you want it, you know? And in my defense, as poorly written as my note to her was, I was really looking for creative companionship first, fame second.

If you're feeling low about your readership or statistics, you have to ask yourself things like:
  • What am I doing here that deserves BIG attention?
  • What am I doing differently from the next person?
  • What are my real intentions?
  • Am I looking to become a celebrity?
  • How many people need to be interested for that to feel okay to you?
  • Where do I go to find them?
If you reflect on what you are looking for, you might find yourself more content with where you are. And in that comfort you might find the stones to help you forge on to even more success. There is something to be said for sitting on your laurels, no matter how small they are.

Now, more than anything else I see my blog as an online gallery of my work, where I curate all of my art and architecture and projects, old and new, and no one tells me what to hang here but me. I am working toward a book which came out of nowhere, and I'm proudly blogging every time I perform burlesque. That is the most awesome part of blogging. You are running this show! I hope you are embracing that.

Finally, has it been done before?
It's totally fine if it has been! I am the one millionth lady to start a mommy blog. You just need to adjust your expectations. If it's been done before, don't expect to get a ton of attention, unless you are doing it YOUR WAY. I believe in the tenets written by Austin Kleon in "Steal Like an Artist". I started this blog based on what I had seen at bleubird vintage, the only blog I read regularly at the time. Since then, it has evolved into a place for my voice and my style, but that took a lot of time, and the template I emulated from bleubird really gave me a jumping off point.

I don't know if you noticed, but there is a sort of inspirational backlash out there in the blogging community of us having to tell each other to be ourselves! There are great posts out there right now on blogging trends that need to disappear, advice about slow blogging, and probably others I haven't read yet. THIS IS YOUR TIME! This is your time to buck trends and be yourself. Make it a cognitive exercise if you need to, but do it! Trust me!

In my opinion, you can bring nothing more valuable to the table or your blog than who you truly are. It really is the best you can do. I know it's my best chance to get my work noticed, and parlay that work into whatever comes next for me. 


I would LOVE to hear any feedback you have on this topic. Let's talk!

Happy New Year! Best wishes to all of us in 2013!



you're gonna make it after all

Ladies' date downtown yesterday soaking up the rest of the holiday cheer with my little lady.

Have a wonderful weekend! xoxo


stretch it out

Well, that was another wonderful Christmas, made more so because my mother is visiting. My mother is the patron saint of Christmas celebration. We started the day with lots of David's great coffee and our stockings, and ended it with delicious coq au vin which we prepared the night before Christmas after driving all over the city looking at the lights, and this bright green salad which was desperately needed. We watched A Christmas Story (who didn't?) before bed. I can't believe I've never laid eyes on that film before! It was a day full of way too many cookies, five prolonged hours of Christmas presents, and a lot of love. Stella was an absolute doll and Oliver is three, so the magic is just off the charts with him.

We usually lock it down here at Christmastime, becoming antisocial and inward looking. I love it that way. But this year my good friend Beth and her family are in town, my mother is staying with us, and we are fortunate to have dinner plan after dinner plan, so we're going into the new year feeling surrounded by our people, and that's a good thing for hermits like us. I still maintain that Christmas should stretch for days like we try to let it every year (here's last year). This year we're just having to shower a little more. I'm still in my pajamas twenty-plus hours of the day, so I shan't complain!

We didn't send cards this year, but I made sure to send gifts (mostly donut shaped) to all of our closest East Coast pals and the people here and there who have given me the most support and/or sage advice over the last year. That was so fulfilling, saying "thanks" in a meaningful way.

I hope your Christmas was equally as magical. It rained like crazy here, really hard, but today was clear and it looks like tomorrow might be, too. May your Christmas cheer last for a few more days. Enjoy it when you can!

We woke up really late by our standards. It was daylight!

Ten or so days of all of us camping out in Stella's room, a.k.a. "the snuggle nest".

 David got me this crazy sequined top I've been staking out for months.

Some gifts from me to him.

Expensive meringues I've always wanted to try from our friend Beth. Delicious!

A costume change before archery.

Having my mother here means going to sleep with a train wreck on the living room floor and waking up to this:

Homemade hot chocolate for guests, recipe soon.

I don't think I'll ever tire of Play-Doh. This blog can attest to that.

A happy boy with his most favorite toys.


merry christmas

On their way to their first haircuts. I feel like I have two brand new kids now with some of this hair gone. 

I've got a killer donut project in the can, but I've pulled too many late nights this month to write it up until after I've had a good nap. Have a really, really wonderful Christmas! Extra happy for you if it's a white one, that would be a dream come true for me. 

xoxo, Tiffanie


old winter songs

These songs remind me of the winter when I was eighteen, going on nineteen. Driving around barren, salty upstate New York roads with my friend Dan (or a clown car full of friends), avoiding going to studio to do our work. Driving my brother to a ski slope in New Hampshire, where I would spend the day in the lodge reading while he skied. These songs give me visceral chilly feelings. These are my quiet songs. This could very well be someone else's hot summer night mix, but this is dead of winter music to me.

Birthday The Sugarcubes
The Sweetest Thing U2 (this was a B-side back then)
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore The Smiths
Thorn of Crowns Echo and the Bunnymen
Uncertain Smile The The
Loving You Hating Me Soft Cell
Something to Believe In AFB
Let Me Go Heaven 17
Smalltown Boy Bronski Beat
Bordeaux The Durutti Column
Wuthering Heights Kate Bush
Bring on the Dancing Horses Echo and the Bunnymen

While I was making this mix I kept veering off into all of the other music we listened to around then. This was the same year "Like A Prayer" came on the radio every ten minutes (we kept track) and that I first set ears on a solo Peter Murphy. I think I'll do this again, there is so much more music to remember and it was fun.

Happy Winter! Stay warm. It is cold enough in San Francisco to make me feel like we're having a season, which is good, because I miss real winter like no one's business. The photo above is of my brother sledding in my grandmother's front yard. That's winter.

I'll be back Monday with one more Christmasy donut pan project, and then it's go time! xoxo


sentimental gifts

There is plenty underneath the tree this year for Stella and Oliver in the way of spy gear and science sets, as they requested. These are their sentimental, I-love-you-so-much-it-hurts gifts.

For Stella, a walnut-shaped box I bought for her here, to hold a necklace I bought for her here. I know the idea of real-albeit-freshwater pearls will blow her mind, and the two pearl eggs are her and her brother, and the bird is me, of course.

For Oliver, the famous image from Le Voyage dans la lune, which he first became obsessed with on a cold Sunday afternoon in July that all four of us spent cuddled up in bed watching Hugo. That night we ate roasted vegetables topped with poached eggs, and you could smell the roasting sweet potatoes during the movie. It was a sweet, sweet day. The image of the rocket crashing into one of the moon's eyes stayed with Oliver for weeks, and he reenacted it for us with his toy rocket ship, right in our faces, over and over. Still does.

For them to share, this hardcover sketchbook containing 696 blank pages for them (and me) to fill. I have spent far less time drawing with Oliver than I did with Stella. I know having this giant tome on the coffee table as a permanent fixture will help remedy that. It'll be good place for me to exorcise the little sketchy things I'm caught up on and cleanse my drawing palette, if you know what I mean. If you live in San Francisco, this sketchbook is on sale here for around twenty-four bucks, which I think is a total steal.  

David has a little catching up to do here, so I doubt he will see this before Christmas. But, to be safe, David, if you are reading this, look away!

We are huge fans of my friend Michael Merritt's work. We have so many pieces of his in our house. He is amazing and prolific. He recently (and relevantly) started casting railroad spikes in clay and then woodfiring them. As soon as I saw them I snatched one up. It's just so beautiful. I know David will treasure it.

Looks like Mike is currently sold out of these particular pieces, but he's already taken them to another level, dipping them in red tool dip and such (see here). LOVE.

May not be much of a gift guide, but at least you can tell where my heart is at. There are a few other good, sentimental things under the tree for David, but best to keep my mouth shut until Christmas. Can't wait.


gone to the dogs

Here we are a little over a week away from Christmas and there are SO many other holiday-related donut pan ideas on my list. But I'm still burnt out from "Holiday Donut Pan Idea Week". That was too much! I needed a project this week that I could execute with ease, and it just so happens that this easy one made some great (and dog-approved) gifts for some of my friends with dogs.

Doggie treats! Vegan doggie treats, to be exact. These are a slam dunk. I researched online and used THIS recipe I found at an all-things-pet-related website called petsugar, so thanks to them.

This recipe yields 14 pet treats. I scored each one so they are easy to snap into quarters. Some of my recipients were big dogs, and one was a chihuahua, so it just made sense.

You will need 1/2 c. organic peanut butter, 1 c. water, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour and   1 1/2 c. white flour. Also helpful is a chopstick for scoring the treats, and a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Preheat your oven to 350º. There is no pan preparation required for once, hooray! Blend peanut butter, water and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer until well combined. Sift together the white and whole wheat flours in a separate bowl and then add the flour to the wet mixture a little at a time. By the time you've added the last of the flour it might be working your mixer pretty hard. If that happens you can always take the dough out of the bowl and knead it a little to finish the job.

One at a time, measure out 2 oz. pieces of dough, shape into balls and stretch into the donut pans. Press and shape the backs firmly until the pan cavities are evenly filled and the treats look smooth. While you're filling the pans, the big pile of dough will start to dry out a bit. You might want to cover it with a cloth or plastic wrap while working to keep it moister. I finished before I had too much of a problem. 

Before you put the pans in the oven, score the backs of the treats into quarters by pressing lines of holes as shown. My holes went about three-quarters of the way through the dough and worked great.

Bake at 350º for twenty minutes. While they are baking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After twenty minutes, remove the pans from the oven and carefully flip the treats out onto the baking sheet. Arrange scored-side up and bake for fifteen more minutes to dry them out a bit more.

When they are done, take them out and let them cool completely, then pack 'em up for your favorite dawgs! 

This is Boo-Boo. He and his brother Benny who live upstairs with our friends gobbled them right up!


round up: beginning to look a lot like christmas

Don't you love this little antler headpiece? I bought it at a great holiday bazaar in the city last weekend from these folks. If they had had more in stock I would've picked up enough for a herd of baby reindeer. It's made from molded leather and it's like my favorite thing right now.

We're all up in the Christmas spirit over here. I'm officially over the hump, and really, really happy about it. East Coast packages are lovingly (and expensively) shipped. Performances are over for the year. Only a week and a half until my mother arrives and David and I have vowed that no matter what we are taking at least one hour a day for the 10+ days she is here to be together without the kids. A few dinner reservations have been made and I'm hoping for some walks and glasses of wine right up the street. Free babysitting is like gold in this town.

This week I've been making my old donut pan recipes as gifts for friends and family. Being able to just plow ahead and make them without taking photos is INCREDIBLE! Everything takes a quarter of the time or less than it did when I was shooting them. All of those recipes are so easy. My friend Sarah is actually binding many of the ideas together in little books and giving with donut pans for Christmas. So cool! I've decided to start thinking and regarding the pan project as "working on a book", because I am. I really want that to happen. There, I said it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! We are staying still. Oliver and I have been sick this week and I have been staying up until all hours of the morning working on this and that, and it's time to get off that treadmill and check back into our life. See you next week!

Donuts en route.

Fire starters in production where all the magic happens, on the two feet of counter to the left of the stove. 

Our place at 10:00 a.m one funky morning, a piano we found in the Panhandle.

Oliver outside of Rare Device.

The palest, most subtle little white/pink ombré piñata, also at Rare Device.

Trimming the tree last weekend.

The cow-ch is out of the bay window for the time being.

Stella's primos were here last month for Thanksgiving and it was so much fun to have them visit.

Original purpose for these pasta letters before I thought of this.

We took the girls to The Sing-a-long Sound of Music. Four hours of sheer fun, really!

My strong feelings for Christopher Plummer didn't hurt. Yadda!

Remnants from Thanksgiving still on the wall.

Ganging up on Santa. Our angels!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...