Posts tagged For the Love of Blogging
For the love of blogging: Me

It's a beautiful Thursday, and we're here at the close (for now) of one of my favorite series yet. Sniff.

I find the art of blogging such an interesting and diverse experience. I have encountered some of the most creative individuals through my work on this blog, and I have been captivated by their stories - not only through the posts that they share but through their journey to writing, designing, photographing, and curating their interests, products, and passions.

I hope you've enjoyed meeting the artist, the budding photographer, the stylist, and the writer in this series because I have definitely loved sharing them with you.

And since the whole series launched to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Pars Caeli, I would be remiss to not give you a window into my story...



I've been a blog reader for about eight years, and I think I needed this extended time to digest the "what" of blogs and the variety of ways posts add to the creative content, easily accessible to all. Community building is a big part of who I am, and I fell in love quickly with the authors and artists who freely shared their amazing experiences and gave away their recipes, their project instructions, and their advice.

I have followed the development of the Alt Summit brand from the beginning, and when they announced that online classes would be available, I signed up for the first one! I took it as a sign that I needed to do some research on blogging, if nothing else.

Of course, in that class was a spirited chatter named Paige who had recently started her blog. She contacted me after the class to see if I'd like to do a guest post on her site. I was happily terrified and decided if I was to be a guest, I needed to have a home from which to come.

And the webhome, Pars Caeli was born.

Well, it's fair to say that in the early days of blogging, I didn't really have a goal for this space other than to have fun with it and connect with other creatives. I remember spending hours and hours on a post I created about our favorite read aloud stories. I was so proud of myself for getting it all together that I made a bold move and sent an email to Gabrielle Blair of, a blog hero of mine, writing that I thought she may be interested in our books (what was I thinking?). My small Blogger site was just a month old at the time, and, shockingly, Gabby came over to visit! She even commented.

At one month in, I'd already had one of my design/mom/writing idols visit. I was star struck!! I seriously didn't know if I needed to do any more on the blog. Do I just close up shop?

That made me realize that I probably needed to have some kinda plan for Pars Caeli, more than getting really cool people to visit.

But you better believe that's still part of the thrill. Heck, I got you here, didn't I?!

I'm happier when I do so. I'm more creative and responsive in my professional life as a graphic designer and social media specialist when I blog.

I also love that Pars Caeli keeps me accountable to finish only dreamed-of projects and find the time for the adventures with my kids that were concepts before the blog.

It's the challenge. It's the community of readers who spend their precious time reading and commenting on my musings. It's the oddity, too. I've always thrived on having something a little quirky about me, and I think a blog fits into the vibe quite well.

I may lose readers for the utter mundane nature of this response but - washing dishes. The window above our kitchen sink overlooks our backyard and taking in the natural environment while I complete a routine task gets my gears pumping.

I find conversations inspire my posts. Sometimes these are tweets back and forth, but more likely it's a chat with a neighbor or a friend that will prompt me to respond.

Also, I stink at working from a desk, always have (even the really pretty ones). So most of my blogging happens laying down on my family room floor and pecking away at my laptop. There's something about the blood flow and the remembrance of playing on the floor as a child that brings it all full circle for me.

Unexpected content. I love surprises. A fresh perspective. Large gorgeous photos (I'm a sucker for eye candy). Clean and coherent web design. Great storytelling that makes me want to connect further.

Yes, I would sleep more. I'd have to develop another hobby. Hmmm, cup stacking and learning to play the guitar are still on my list.

At this point if I walked away, I'd feel disconnected. When I took a month off of blogging over Christmas, I began to feel like a piece of me wasn't getting exercise. I can definitely fill my time with other activities, but blogging stretches me, pushes me to learn. Don't we all need a little of that in our life?

I've got great big dreams for Pars Caeli. This space has become one of humor, laughter, design, reflection, and friendship, and I'm in the works of amping that up even more. I have projects and artwork I want you to discover. I have stories that need to be told, and I want to hear yours.

I have some great collaborations coming up in the next months that I'm excited to share, and my first trip to NYC for AltNYC that I'm going to blog all about.

I'm also completely committed to keeping that initial embrace of the unexpected for Pars Caeli. You just never know when the Holy Spirit is going to present something amazing in your path. Count me in as ready to welcome new growth, new life.

Big, big thanks to all of you who have visited once, twice, and with every post. Thank you for taking the time to read, look, and digest the life of Pars Caeli. In blog years, this site is middle-aged... and so I leave you with an excerpt of Robert Browning's poem Rabbi Ben Ezra. (Side note: let's read more poetry, okay? It's mind expanding.)

xoxo, MJ


For the love of blogging: The writer

I just love, love, love Thursdays around here. I get to bring some fabulous people into the spotlight for all of you dearies to see and read. And I saved a might good one for this week.

Do you know Meg? You completely need to if you don't. I was stunned to read that she's only been at this blogging thing a year because her words are timeless. She is an amazing writer who can make me ugly cry and snort snot bubbles of joy (this is a compliment, I promise) as I read through her stories of womanhood, family, and life. Give yourself a Thursday treat and head over to Meg in Progress (after you read this rockin' interview that she offered me whilst nursing for her daughter with pneumonia) to savor her words.





Meg in Progress has been exposing my mediocre attempts at a full life since February of 2012. I have been writing my little ramblings down on other sites since about 2006.

There were two main reasons. First, I am a writer who had forgotten to make time to write. With all the guts and glory of wifedom and motherhood, I was no longer taking the time to do the things that make me feel fulfilled. Creating Meg in Progress was really my way of creating a space where I could go to do what I love and remember who I am. When I am able to plunk a few thoughts down each day, I am a better person when it comes to every other facet of my life.

Secondly (and perhaps most importantly), I think that as women it is high time that we are honest with each other. It is time to share our struggles along with our triumphs. We are part of this vast sisterhood and I think we should take advantage of our community of valiant hearted women. I want women to be able to read about my day-to-day and think, “My goodness, I am not alone.” or better yet, “Man, I thought I was a little crazy, but I read about that Meg in Progress girl and feel MILES better about myself. She is positively loony.”



My biggest mistake is that for awhile I compared myself to other bloggers with some frequency. I mean my goodness, you are all so amazing and it can be so intimidating. I don’t even own a glue gun so I need to stop wishing I was a top craft blogger. Today I walked around with applesauce spilled across my jeans, so the fashion blogger ship has sailed. I became a better blogger when I stopped feeling like everything had to be covered in glitter and designer labels. The whole concept of the Meg in Progress is that I am a very imperfect work in progress. One day I decided to truly embrace that concept and that message. Everything that followed that decision has been more successful and, more importantly, a more accurate reflection of my authentic self.

My crazy, innate, can’t turn it off need to write. Also? The relationships I have developed with readers I have never met. There are so many amazing women out there and I love that blogging has been a way to connect with them.


 A long walk with my two little girls. I always return home with a new story or insight.


Happiness! A cohesive story telling style. And an honest approach to life. I am not very attracted to blogs that look like perfect catalogues. My Anthro magazine comes in the mail each month and serves that purpose well. I read blogs to learn about and connect with real people.

I would have more time for writing for print publications. Which would be fabulous and also, very, very sad.


I bring home the bacon (mmmm...bacon) by taking on freelance writing projects. I also write for Caravan Shoppe and have some really amazing projects in the works with those fabulous ladies. In May, I am starting a project on womanhood that makes me want to jump up and down with happiness. But my best time (and most of it) is spent with my family. I am blessed with a husband that makes my heart beat and two girls that are made of equal parts sugar and sass. My life is brimming with scraped knees, dirty clothes and love. Right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Meg, thank you for your honest words here and over at Meg in Progress. You lift up the journey of motherhood and open it up for laughter and encouragement. Your bravery inspires me, and your talent pushes me to do more.

Do you know another great blogger that should be featured here? Leave a comment, and you just might see it happen.

xoxo, MJ


For the love of blogging: The stylist

Welcome back to this favorite series of mine, friends!! Today I'm bringing you a true talent and an incredibly put-together lady, Mrs. Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34

Erin is a digital communications expert, fashion and décor enthusiast, and a stylist who has transformed her passions into her career. She went full-time last year to pursue her dreams of working with creative clients such as Rue Magazine, Trophy Cupcakes, Mark and Graham and Chloe Rose Boutique among others (yeah, she's that awesome).

Back in the day (AKA fall 2012), Erin was kind enough to recognize Pars Caeli as one of her Noteworthy Newbies, and I'm delighted to have the chance to have her over here with us to peek into her blogging journey.

Enjoy the images and Erin's adventure!

Apartment 34 was originally meant to chronicle the renovation of my first condo in Seattle, a renovation that has never taken place! Six years later I now live in San Francisco and the blog as blossomed into a full lifestyle site and I couldn't be happier.

Just look at my early posts. Horrible image quality, atrocious writing. My whole first year could be considered a mistake but it was my authentic voice at the time.


There are so many reasons I've kept up my blog for so long. First is getting to constantly talk about topics I love and have real passion for - styling, design, fashion, food, travel. I really do find all these things so critical to a well lived life. And then there is the amazing community of bloggers I consider myself lucky to be a part of. I've made true and long lasting friendships with people from all around the world through this crazy blogging experiment. And finally I blog for my readers. I feel an obligation to them - to deliver something fun, interesting and new everyday.

I look for inspiration absolutely everywhere - my files, bookmarks and pins go on for days. Something I hear about from a friend. Everything is a potential blog post!


I'm always drawn to someone with a beautiful well-designed aesthetic, gorgeous imagery, interesting fresh ideas and/or a compelling story. I'm a speed blog reader so there are few that get me to pause and dive in deep but I love it when they do.

I wouldn't even know what to do with myself. My brain is now so trained to always be scouting for the blog. I would have more time to read novels, watch movies and sleep though. 


I turned Apartment 34 into to my full time job last year, but the blog is only one component of my business.

I use my first career in PR & marketing to offer influencer marketing consulting services to lifestyle brands. In a nutshell, I know help brands I love work with the bloggers I love in creative and mutually beneficial ways. It's the ultimate win-win! I also moonlight as a stylist from time to time. I love helping a brand create a visual look or work with a magazine to style a really compelling shoot. I don't call it my profession though - it's more my little side project!

Oh, my, goodness. Erin has style just oozing from her veins. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Erin, and for setting a great example for what full-time blogging/consulting work can look like. It's a delight to have you over!!


If you're having trouble with the comments here, please feel welcome to send me an email at or tweet me a note to @parscaeli

For the love of blogging: The budding photographer

I'm just over the moon about these Thursday posts, friends. As part of this continuing series For the Love of Blogging, I'm bringing you a new blogger - the voice and talent behind Little Siddall Studios, Becky. She's a newbie blogger with a lot of spunk...

I was looking for an outlet to rant other than my personal Facebook feed. I've journaled all my life and found that I'm a faster typer than I am a pen writer. However, I still carry a pen and Moleskine wherever I go. I find that I write differently through pen than through the clicking-clack of keys on a keyboard. It's a different kind of creative outlet for me.

Since January of 2012. As noted in this post, it was a goal of mine to stick it out for a year, and I'm so happy I did! Something that started out as a challenge, has turned into one of my constant joys and even further fuelled my desire to go into business for myself.

I think the funniest (nervous laughter) thing was the night I thought I would lose all my blog content. I remember turning to Josh (Mohawk is his name on the blog), bursting into tears and saying “I'm afraid if I push this button, I might delete everything!!!” and luckily for me, I didn't. Was I ever a wreck that night. Oh the early days of blogging - when my mother was my only reader, and I would take 6 pictures of the same thing at the same angle, on a Blackberry. It's amazing how quickly we adapt and learn when we immerse ourselves into uncharted waters.

My need to get my thoughts out of my brain and somewhere that I can reflect and look back on. I am in love with memories. I will re read and re watch things just because. I think there's something magical about reading words with no other voice than the one in your own head. Deciding what tone comes across – and where the pauses are. I keep blogging because, when it comes down to it – I like talking through my writing. Some may like my style, some may not, but regardless, I want to keep it my own. On the business side of things, I'm an entrepreneur at heart and always wanted to go into business for myself. I think we are all curious creatures, just some are more afraid than others to show it. I know I'm afraid at times, but I'm learning to embrace that fear. I think blogging is the perfect outlet for that.



Music and movies. I find I'm inspired by the way something is edited, or the pattern in which an actor chooses to say their lines. I love watching movies alone. I can pause, rewind, write in my notebook like a mad woman, and then play the movie again from where my brain trailed off. When I'm creating a post or brainstorm-writing, I have the stereo turned up – or my headphones on - all different types of music – and probably louder than I should. I can play songs over and over and over again. It can be so peaceful and productive.



I'm slightly ashamed to say that - I judge blogs just like I judge books by their cover. I know, I know, some of you are thinking how dare her! But it's the honest truth. When i'm at the library or bookstore, I'll look for something to read based on how gravitated I am to its cover. There's just so much choice in this world! I need to narrow it down somehow or I'd be on the internet all day and all night. The majority tend to be food and photography focused.  


I'd sleep more and my eyes would probably hurt less from constant staring at the computer screen.


At the moment, I work 4 days a week, full time as a Lead Support Coordinator for a company in Toronto. It pays the bills while I start diving into the deep end with my photography business. Coming from a film & television background, photography has always been a loved hobby but something I am very serious about now. I'm constantly soaking in knowledge wherever I can and of course, practice, practice, practice! Josh and I are in the process of bringing a dog into our family. Never having owned a dog before myself, i'm excited for this new change in our life! Not too sure how Tut, our cat, feels about it though. We'll have to see!

Oh, that avocado photo! Thank you Becky for joining in the conversation and celebrating the love of blogging. Head on over to Becky's space, Little Siddall Studios to gawk at her photos and follow her journey!

That's it from me, friends. Have a bright weekend... and rest up. We have a whole lot of fun to be had next week.

xoxo, MJ

For the love of blogging: The artist

What's going on, lovelies? I am so delighted to kick off this new Thursday series on Pars Caeli. As I mentioned last week during Melanie's book tour post, we are celebrating blogging and bloggers all throughout the month of April.

Pars Caeli is one year today (see the very first post)!! And though I'd love to throw some great contests and offer gifts, this blog runs on a $30/month budget so instead I'm bringing you inspiration and wisdom (with some laughs thrown in) as my gift. I've lassoed an amazing cast of bloggers from various backgrounds and experiences; some fresh on the scene and some with years of experience. I hope their passion (and mine) for the great big blogging universe will encourage you to go after your dreams, both big and small.

First up, Paige of Approaching Joy. **Disclaimer: Paige is one of my favorite blogger pals. She and I are headed on a great adventure in AltNYC in June!! One year ago, she was also the lady who pushed me off the blog diving board to click "publish."


I started blogging at Approaching Joy in late January of 2012.  Before that I had kept blogs for a few weeks at a time but always got frustrated when I couldn't make my space "pretty" and gave up quickly thereafter. I actually took a blog design class in conjunction with starting Approaching Joy so design was less frustrating... kind of...


I say "kind of" because, when I was taking that first blog design class I spent anywhere from two to three hours a DAY for two weeks trying to figure out what I wanted my blog to look like.  It bordered on obsessive, and I think my roommates thought I started an illegal drug habit (since I spent most of that time in my room, yelling at my computer.)  I think I even blogged mostly about blog design in that first (icky) period.


Luckily, it was just one of those things that I had to get out of my system and then I could turn my attention to fun stuff.




I keep blogging because (wow, this is going to sound horrible) but I kind of feel like it's my pixel-child.  

Newborn phase: Design, establishing, and not a lot of sleep.  
Toddler phase: Learning what I need to learn.  Links, code, etiquette, tantrums, etc.
Elementary phase: Going out, meeting people, having fun.
Angst-ridden teen phase: Where I'm at now.  Transitioning from blogging "what I should do" into "what I want to do."  Oh yea, total blog rebel over here.



Most of my best inspiration happens while I'm away from the computer. Pinterest is cool but, personally, nothing beats a walk on a trail, a cup of coffee at a local shop, or a drive down a dirt road to really get my creative cogs turning.




I feel like I know the blogger behind the screen in all the blogs I read. At times this means I am interested but intimidated, empathizing over rough spots, or taken aback by someone's hard work.


But always, always, I can see their personality, or else I won't keep reading.


(I choose to answer this question in a "Zombies just ate the Internet" kind of way, instead of a "my computer broke, sad day" kind of way.) If I had to stopping blogging tomorrow, I would lose a sizable chunk of my personal community. The people I've "met" through my blog have become friends and sisters, people who I share inside jokes with, people whose children I care about, people who make me smile on a day when everything else is gray.


Serious sadness.



Outside of the blog I make art (which I am trying to work up the courage to share more often on the blog.)
Outside of the blog I make delicious dinners with my husband.
Outside of the blog I drink way too much caffeine, am allergic to the dogs I love, and try to be kind to everyone I meet.


I'm also trying to start a business that ties art into community and makes it a big part of my region's culture. But that's a big secret that I'm only willing to share with Pars Caeli readers.


Love it!! Thanks, Paige for gracing the pages of Pars Caeli and for your constant support throughout this first year. Follow Paige on Instagram at @approaching_joy to see some of her latest creations. And if you want to have some fun, engage her in some witty banter via Twitter.

Have a bright weekend, friends! I'll be saying a prayer of thanksgiving for each of you that stop by this site. It's been an eye-opening first year, and I hope to share so much more with you over the next 12 months.

xoxo, MJ