Cue the Twilight Zone theme…

On my walk tonight – Sunshine! Fresh air! Vitamin D! – I tossed around an idea for a new photo feature for my blog.  Now I see that creating a new feature for our blogs is the last assignment of Blogging 101.

Well, I’ll be darned.

My new venture, which I’m calling The Sidewalk Nomad, will be a weekly compilation of interesting, beautiful, quirky or unusual things that I see or encounter when I’m out stretching my legs, running errands or just taking in the sights and scenery of the world around me.

I’ve already added a few photos – some old, some new – all of which were taken from a street or sidewalk while on vacation or during one of my walks.  This new feature is located above on my main menu bar.  I hope you’ll check it out!  Let me know what you think.  Your feedback and comments are always welcome!

Assignment: Blogging 101: Create a New Posting Feature


Our task today was to extend our brand – that which defines us in The Land of Blog – by creating a Facebook fan page, getting inventive with image widgets or deploying a blavatar: a custom avatar which is exemplified by the yellow letter ‘a’ used by Amazon or the red letter ‘N’ for Netflix.

I’ve cropped one of my photos (shown above) for my personal blavatar. This will, once fully deployed, appear in Readers’ browser address bars when they visit my blog.

That was easy enough!

Assignment: Blogging 101: Extend Your Brand


Oh, but I have enjoyed a variety of blog events courtesy of WordPress and so many wonderfully talented bloggers out there in The Land of Blog!

Participating in a variety of photo challenges and joining the conversation on a number of Daily Post threads has resulted in new friends, new discoveries and the happy consequence of increased traffic and exposure of my blog to a broader audience.

A favorite group of photo challenges that I’ve had a lot of fun with are hosted by Cee Neuner.  You can check out her blog and challenges here. Stop by and join in the fun!

While photography is great fun and offers more ‘instant’ gratification here on WordPress, I think I’ll check out some of the writing prompts and challenges. Hmmm. Three Things Thursday sounds interesting! Any other recommendations?

Assignment: Blogging 101: Try (Another) Blog Event


For today’s assignment, we’ve been instructed in the how and why of creating pages for our blogs. Pages are different than posts and are both an art and a science unto themselves. I’ve chosen to create a new Poll menu item that I’ve named The Poll Troll. I hope to provide a new poll each week. Please check it out and select the answer that best applies to you!

The Poll Troll heading is listed on the main menu.  Click the drop-down to select this week’s poll.  That is,  my first and only one so far!

As always, thanks for your patronage, feedback, encouragement and support. I welcome your input — and any ideas you may have for future fun and interesting polling efforts!

Assignment: Blogging 101: Add a New Page


We’re asked today to publicize our posts to Facebook or any other social media that we interact with. I’ve been doing ‘pushing’ my posts to Facebook since almost Day One and have found it a great way to increase traffic, attract new Followers and share my blogging activities. Occasionally, I ‘turn off’ this setting for various reasons but it’s my default setting so most everything I post makes its way to my Facebook page and RSS feeder.

I find it curious that most of my Facebook friends choose to comment or ‘Like’ what I’ve published via my Facebook posts instead of doing so within my blog itself. Perhaps they don’t know how to leave their comments here or – shrug – maybe they just prefer to wend their way back to Facebook. Either way, I’m always grateful for the feedback!

Assignment: Blogging 101: Plug in to Social Networks


Trying something different is sometimes a challenge. I’ve known people who loathe change while others thrive under an onslaught of NEW. We are, all of us, creatures of habit and how we bloggers BLOG is no exception.

That said, I’m going to incorporate the use of links to one or more previous posts as well as try to vary the placement of photos here using a more diverse approach than my usual plunking down of a single photo at the top of my post, centering it and blowing it up in size as far as she’ll go.

In order to facilitate the placement of a few photographs, I’ll try to recap the year, what we’ve seen of it anyway, thus far.

New Year’s Eve? Husband and I attended a basketball game that night – our beloved Iowa State Cyclones are having a good season and are currently ranked 9th in the nation – and then we were home and in bed by 10:30. Party animals, we’re decidedly NOT.


January started out fairly frigid. The usual Midwest suspects – cold, snow, icy roads and strong winds – closed schools and businesses and made travel pretty much miserable. But we Iowans are a hearty lot and we (for the most part) take it all in stride. Once we got past a week or so of subzero temps, January has really started to shape up. There is little to no snow on the ground thanks to several days of temperatures in the 40s and 50s so with the month almost at a close, the remaining two months of winter are a little easier to swallow.


February, often cited as Least Favorite Month of the Year, brings Valentine’s Day AND my birthday. I turn all of 58 this year. Gulp. The Big 6-O is fast approaching. Funny. I feel like I’m still in my 40s or even late 30s, depending on the day and how well my RA is behaving itself.

Bill and I have scheduled a trip to Colorado this summer where we plan to hike and explore and plan to pursue one of my bucket list goals of reaching the summit of a 14er, a mountain peak more than 14,000 feet high.


Later this year we hope to visit my son in St. Louis or perhaps drive out to the Black Hills and Devil’s Tower where we spent our honeymoon nineteen years ago this April.

As always, I’ll have my trusty camera in hand and eyes wide open, looking – always looking – for that next great shot!


Assignment: Blogging 101: Try a New Posting Style

Today we’re asked to regroup and check out other’s post via our earlier Prompt assignment: read at least six posts that used the same prompt and leave comments on at least two of them.

The first one I pulled up was Evil Queens and Coffee Beans. I must say, I laughed aloud when I read it. It was ever so brief yet elegantly stated. It is, in it’s entirety, reprinted below:

growing up i worshipped at Madonna’s altar.

still do.

Love it! In tit-for-tat measure, I responded accordingly:

Short, sweet and to the point. Succinctly defined. I like it.

Another post, Musings & Rants, lists no less than six of her teen idols, two of which are no longer with us (I admit to having glanced too quickly at her list and looked again to see if another of mine, Davy Jones, was included. He was not and that alone made me sad to consider how these objects of teenage angst -ack! I’m getting older! – are no longer living). One who did make her list was David Cassidy. Ah yes. I remember crushing on him back in the day. And while not (yet) dead, life got a little ugly for our little Partridge Family lead singer. A quick Google search revealed an ugly mugshot for a fairly recent DWI arrest. Sigh. Still, he did make my pulse race when I was just fourteen.

Assignment: Blogging 101: Increase Your Commenting Confidence

Per yesterday’s assignment (posting this a day late!), we’re asked to include a head’s up on our home page to inform our readers of the blogs we like and Follow. To that end, I’ve already added the Blogs I Follow widget (titled as Blogs I Like) and I’ve posted via an earlier Blogging 101 assignment some shout-outs to bloggers and blogs that I enjoy.

As an aside, please check out my new widget: Ye olde Ping-o-Meter!

Assignment: Blogging 101: Build a Better Blogroll


Dark Shadows was must-see summer TV when I was in middle school. It was a daytime soap opera of gothic proportions and was groundbreaking in a way, set in the spooky Collinwood Mansion, home to any number of ghosts, vampires, witches and werewolves. Many a time, too scared to watch but spellbound nonetheless, we girls would position ourselves to the side of the television cabinetry and sneak a peak (but with our eyes covered).

Most girls (and, I suspect, many women) crushed on the star of the show, Jonathan Frid, who played sexy vampire Barnabas Collins. However, I was smitten by Quentin Collins, played by David Selby. I laugh now to recall the massive sideburns he wore but, still, he was undeniably attractive. I used to fantasize that perhaps the producers and actors might be driving past our house along Highway 69 (it was, after all, as my parents told us once, a major highway that cut across several states in the Midwest) and that their car would breakdown. After knocking on our door for some roadside assistance, the producer would steal a glance my way and proclaim ‘Hey, sweetheart. You’d be perfect for Dark Shadows. Whataya say?’ Yeah, silly. I know. But such was the stuff of my teenage hormone-driven imagination.

My dad surprised me once – funny how some things are just etched in your memory – as I sat on the kitchen counter drying dishes and putting them away in the cupboard. Dad wasn’t much for chit chat. I recall very few conversations with him growing up which is probably why I remember, so vividly, him asking me if I was in love. Was he able to read my mind? Did he know that I thought constantly about David Selby or that I scribbled his name on paper? Had my father seen the hearts I’d drawn with my initials intertwined with those of the one that I daydreamed about? I was embarrassed and somehow ashamed, guilty that I’d been found out. Of course, I denied the allegation but always wondered how he’d known.

It occurs to me, just now, that this would have been a delightful topic to have asked Dad about before we lost him to cancer a few years ago. How I wonder if he would have remembered the day he once asked me, his eldest daughter, if I was in love!

Assignment: Make a Prompt Personal
Prompt: Teen Idol


Our final task this week is to add some dash and pow and pizazz to our sidebars. While I prefer to avoid anything overly busy, gauche or loud, I have added some tweaks to my home page these past few days:

  • Retitled each section (or widget) in the sidebar
  • Added an image widget using a whimsical photo to indicate the end of the sidebar menu
  • Inserted the ‘blogs I follow’ widget in grid display

Assignment: Blogging 101: Spruce Up Your Sidebar