Sink or Swim, State of the Site, Off topic-ish

Heather says:

I don’t talk about my life too much here on Home-Ec 101 because I want this site to apply to all adults (even those who feel like they are pretending) no matter where they are in their life. Whether you have just left college and are trying to figure out what you need to build a pantry (FYI I’m going to revisit this section and improve upon it) or if you have kids and are just trying to figure out how to get the kool-aid out of the grout, to the empty-nesters who are suddenly faced with the option of cooking for one or two instead of what feels like an army. For those that don’t know, I have three children, the youngest of which was born about six months after this site was launched. I’ve gone from potty training and just trying to keep them from offing themselves while my back is turned to trying to help them find their direction and strength.

I am currently visiting my father in Myrtle Beach, SC. I’ve visited Myrtle ever since I was a very young child and my own transition from kid jumping into the deep end, to angst ridden disdainful teen lurking in the deep water, to parent catching the kid jumping off the side is never more apparent than when I am here. I look around and wonder if some of those other moms and dads are the ones I hung out with over the years.

Yesterday my youngest child swam across the deep end all by herself, no floats, no swim-aids, just sheer will power and me treading water beside her just in case she ran into trouble. (Also she did this before either of her older brothers have even attempted.)

For a very long time I have felt like I’ve been treading water, knowing that I’m in way over my head. I rarely look back because I’m scared I’ll lose site of my goal, consequently I frequently lose perspective on how very far I (and Home-Ec101.com) have come. (We already passed 1 million unique visitors in 2012 -early July and July also saw well over 200k unique visitors.) For those who aren’t up on what those numbers mean, let’s just say it’s a good thing, a very good thing.

When I flew home from Minnesota earlier this month I came home to a dead car battery and I complained on Twitter. Of course I was able to get it jumped. (Do you want me to write about how to jump a car? It’s not that hard, it can just feel intimidating if you are unfamiliar with it.) I worked at my other job (at the Irish Pub) on my birthday and a bunch of friends I have met through blogging, Twitter, and all kinds of places showed up to wish me well. Among the completely unexpected gifts was a large, very heavy box. Since I’m somewhat responsible, I put the box in the storage room at work to retrieve the next morning, as I wasn’t going to make my designated driver play bellhop, too. See, I can be considerate at times.

When I arrived at work the next morning, I opened the box, expecting something along the lines of a cast iron pot. Nope, it was a brand new car battery. I burst into tears. -I’m human, shut up already.

Of course I said thank you.

It wasn’t until yesterday as I watched my daughter struggle with sheer determination across the pool that I realized that no matter what happens, I’m going to be okay. Those that care about me are close by and aren’t going to let me sink, but they know how important it is for me to meet these goals on my own.

To meet these goals, I need to know what you want from Home-Ec101.com. I know I need to get back into the habit of getting more recipes on the site.

As an example:

Would you like me to compile the recipes into a Kindle / eCookbook?

Would a compilation of kitchenware / small appliances with the Home Ec 101 seal of approval have any appeal?

What ideas do you have? I can’t promise I’ll get to them all, I just want to add to my pool of potential projects for those mornings I sit at the computer and draw a blank. (Yes, I always have a few reader questions in the queue, I just know that sometimes we’ve had too many in a row.)

Bring back Fearless Fridays?

What do YOU want?

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Comments

  1. Mostly I want to give you a big hug because you have been so helpful and you post such wonderful informative items! Have you asked yourself what YOU want this site to be? I think it would be most successful if you do whatever your passion is at the moment, and let the site evolve and grow just as your children are, and just like you are. I think your site has to remain relevant to you and where you are, and who you are, and then your readers will follow.

    • Dechlin I have a ton of ideas about what I’d like to do. I just don’t want to waste time going in a direction that has very limited appeal to the audience if I can help it.For instance, I’m a big tech dork and I would love to include some posts whether on Home Ec 101 proper or a digital.home-ec101.com on the tools that make modern life easier. (How to choose them, apps that are useful, how to set up a media server so you can get rid of that pile of dvds etc)Additionally, I’d like to start up Home Ec 101 after dark for adult beverages and snacks for entertaining.I’d like to do zombies.home-ec101.com to talk about preparedness and sustainable.home-ec101.com as a place to discuss building sustainable lives (whether it’s projects like capturing grey water to choosing solar thermal water heating) etcI just want to know where the readers’ interests lie so that I don’t waste a ton of my limited time. I enjoy writing on all of these topics and I believe my strength, in writing, lies in making rather dry topics marginally entertaining yet still informative. 

      • HeatherSolos All those ideas sound great!  I used to be very tech savvy, but not anymore.  I had to ask my daughter what instagram is, and what’s the point!  Home-ec after dark sounds great, too!

        • Dechlin Instagram has no point other than to share pretty pics quickly. Pretty being subjective, if you like it to look as though you took your photos back in the 70s. ;)

      • bookchick says:

        HeatherSolos These all sound like great ideas but I would really love a series about apps and tech devices that might make my life easier.

        • bookchick wonderful, I really want an excuse to go back to CES (the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas) again this year. I had an amazing time last year. I went because I write about tech for my friend Kelby over on Typeaparent.com (not frequently, but I do). I was in NERD heaven and gadget overload. It was hawesome. ;)

        • bookchick says:

          HeatherSolos My friend Danielle’s boyfriend is a tech nerd and they went to the show last year and had a great time.  I think they’ve ogtten something like 5 free phones out of it.  They are planning to go back again this year.

      • jenlukin says:

        HeatherSolos I think all these ideas sound great also – I’d like to see all of them.  If you get a lot of good feedback about this kind of stuff, then why not post about this stuff on the regular site rather than setting up different sites for them?  Like someone else mentioned, maybe do theme days, like Tech Mondays and After Dark Thursdays or something.  I also like the Fearless Friday feature, and definitely keep the “confessionals” coming.  We can all use a little reality check once in a while. 

        • jenlukin my main reason for setting up subdomains (they would still be linked to home-ec101.com) is in general the main readership (at least those that bother to fill out surveys and such) are quite conservative. Having posts on alcohol is / can be offensive to them therefore I would prefer to have it in a subsection of the site, where someone would actually have to try to find it.Additionally, there are other reasons to have the subdomains that pertain to how the search engines work. If I set up digital.home-ec101.com Google will eventually recognize that that site is authoritative on technology and gadgets, whereas Home-Ec101.com is seen as an authority in the “shelter” vertical -shelter being anything related to the home at least according to the publishing industry. I will still make it so someone can subscribe to the whole shebang or narrow it down by subtopic if there are things that have zero appeal.And as always, this is a work in progress and a labor of love, I can always experiment and switch back without losing much.

  2. Maybe more handyman/fix-it type things would be good. Although most of the things and gadgets people have are “disposable” or require more technical knowledge to fix than most people have, there are still a lot of relatively simple jobs that can be done pretty easily if you have the right tools. Maybe a “Basic Home Toolbox” article.I like the idea of digital.home-ec101.com. I’m sure you could get a few contributors to help out with that.

  3. Why not set a schedule – kind of like you do for housework?  You could set aside one day a week say for recipes/cooking, tech stuff, preparedness, adult stuff, and say, maybe a Q & A, or even budgeting or beginner personal finance or something like that.  Maybe even occasional random guest posts, either within the weekly topic or on one-off topics?

    • Kris that is a brilliant idea. I am hoping once the kids actually (go to school-first time in 9 years I’ll have the house to myself during the day) I can get something that has a semblance of a routine for myself. CRAZY talk, I know. 

  4. MelissaRecord says:

    I would love a discussion on small kitchen appliance and gadgets.  I have a small kitchen and not a lot of room so I want to keep the clutter to a minimum and find thing that will have multiple uses or be something that does it;’s job so well that I just can’t live with out it.

  5. Oh, Heather you rock, always!

  6. Mom2four says:

    It would be great to see posts that help us upgrade our digital lives.  I also liked your thoughts on adding articles on sustainability.  You make  everything so “do-able”!!  Please just keep throwing info at us.  I will read it all.My family is grown now and I still feel like I learn something new every day.  Thanks.

  7. Wow, kudos to your daughter for the swimming! I’d like to see more posts from Bobbie. Someone oughta kick her in the pants about that. :-P(I’ve felt somewhat guilty for not writing more since my Big Change in May. Good intentions, but lacking on the follow-thru.)

  8. CherylSmithem says:

    Heather, I admire you so much. Keep on swimming. I’m so random in my reading that I don’t know what to tell you I want. More than anything, I want your incredible, creative self to soar–to be recognized as the brilliant woman you are. So there, I’ve just gushed all over you. Better than a toddler barfing…for sure.

    • CherylSmithem while it’s still mildly uncomfortable, you are right, it is way, way better than toddler barf. Thank you. I’m trying and things continue to grow. Here’s to whatever happens in the coming year.

      • CherylSmithem says:

        HeatherSolos We are taught that it is impolite to accept out greatness. It’s poor manners to brag about it. But not to state a fact. That’s why others have to brag on us!

  9. bookchick says:

    Please get rid of LiveFyre and go back to the old commenting system.  I do understand the need to ‘filter’ comments, however since the last upgrade I can no longer access comments on my work computer and since I don’t have internet at home right now, I have to go to McDonalds or poach wireless to be able to read the comments.  I am NOT tech savvy, I do not ‘facebook’ or ‘tweet’ and I don’t even know what ‘OpenID’ is.  The only login option I have other than LiveFyre (which by the way never remembers me and requires to create a new password everytime I log in) is LinkedIn which is an account my brother created for me when I was looking for a new job a couple years ago – but I do not want my full name showing up on every comment I make.

    • bookchick I sincerely wish I could accommodate this request, but the spam had gotten so bad it was completely breaking the site rendering it useless for everyone :/ I’ll talk to the folks @livefyre they are extremely helpful and may be able to see what exactly the issue is. OpenID is actually pretty simple once you take a look http://openid.net/get-an-openid/ check out that page and see if maybe you can see what you need.

    • bookchick Hi, I’m Meghan from Livefyre. I’m sorry to hear that Livefyre has been causing frustration for you. Do you know if your workplace uses a firewall to block selected internet sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc? 

      • bookchick says:

        meghankrane Yes, I’m sure that is why I can no longer read comments.  I guess before the company filters weren’t smart enough to pick up livefyre as a social media site.  What frustrates me currently is the fact that I have to log in everytime to comment – however it seems to be working again since I didn’t have to login this time.

      • meghankrane I also can’t access the comments while at work.  I know they use Barracuda filters, but they’re fairly liberal in what they allow (I do a lot of research when graphic designing which takes me all sorts of places looking at images) and they don’t block facebook/twitter/youtube. Occasionally I hit a wall saying something is “Barracuda has blocked this” and gives a reason (usually spam or games).  For this site, it loads most of the page, just not the comments.  It doesn’t give me a reason why, but whatever they are saying is partially hidden in a non-scrollable box. 

  10. bookchick says:

    As far as what you mention above, I would love to have a ‘recepie book’ but maybe it could be published more as a community cookbook type deal?  I don’t like cookbooks on Kindle becasue I don’t want my Kindle anwhere near the kitchen for fear of spilling on it or knocking it off the counter onto the slate foor.  It’s one of the main reasons why I have a hard copy of your book.I would love more cooking tips for singles or couples, or suggestions on how to ‘reuse’ dishes (i.e. roast chicken Sun, chicken & rice Monday, chicken salad Tuesday, etc.    “fixit” type things would be great, a couple years you wrote about how to unstick a garbage disposal a week after I paid a plumber $150 to unstick mine.  I do actually know how to jump a battery, check the oil, and top off fluids but I know several that do not.

    • bookchick there’s no reason I can’t do both as far as the cookbook goes. ePublishing is the quickest / cheapest method for you the consumer, but I can certainly figure out how to do a community style cookbook for those who are willing to pay slightly more (I won’t be making more than a dollar or two on each book)

      • bookchick says:

        HeatherSolos I was thin self-published or something along those lines, thought I have no idea how that works.

  11. HeatherSolos says:

    Thank you, @Livefyre I love the responsiveness of your team.

  12. Heather, in all the time I’ve known you, you have become a person I admire and strive to emulate. That doesn’t help with the off-site issues at all, but I wish time, distance and life were such that I could get to know you better.That doesn’t answer your question, but there you go.As for the blog, I think it would be a great idea if you could tap into some tv spots or have someone pitch you to a major regional or national publication for a story. I know you have numbers and metrics out the ying-yang regarding what people respond to and read on your blog, and you are constantly tweaking your content to respond to those metrics. The articles that are most helpful to me are ‘how to clean’ ones, because I’m clueless and I really don’t cook. Bookchick’s idea for recipes and cooking tips for singles and couples is great, though, because MTM and I struggle with how to eat as a couple, and when I was single, I ate popcorn and cereal exclusively. Opening a cookbook always seemed to underscore how alone I was.

  13. CoalCityGirl says:

    No one else may be interested, but pretend you’re me and you’d really like to cook (haven’t done that much through working career), but you’re totally intimidated on where to start. My BIG hope in life is that someone, somewhere will come up with just 14 simple, easy to make dinners with not exotic ingredients that would be a starting point for the novice, insecure cook. A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Yourself for two weeks. I would be so happy. 

  14. You are my go-to source for how to fix/clean things (particularly if they are slightly unusual), so I love seeing those posts.  More recipes alone I would probably skim over, but wouldn’t be a huge draw for me.  I love meal planning, but cooking for two doesn’t lend itself to most meal planning suggestions out there.  We don’t need to make 5-6 meals a week, we do pretty well with cooking two-three meals and then living on leftovers.  How about meal planning for two: two or three recipes that share ingredients or the leftovers can be mixed and matched?   Kitchenware/small appliance approval would be nice (I’m a cooks illustrated/consumer reports junkie, but love supplementing it).  What about a well reasoned essentials lists for college students/engaged couples registering/etc.  Or how to pare down your kitchen (just to live more simply or because you now have an empty nest)?  Or what kitchen things are great deals at garage sales/thrift stores and what to pass on (or what to look for to see if it’s worth it)?

  15. I realize I’m late to the party, but wanted to add my voice to request an apps review. I’d also like to hear about lunch packing adventures….how to be creative, healthy and cost effective.

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