Wags to Riches: Stories of Shelter Animals

So, it’s taken me four years, but I’ve finally started a blog that I’m passionate about: Wags to Riches.

I’ve tried to start a blog pretty much every year since I started college, but I never got anywhere. I never knew what to blog about: books? current issues? travel? All of them didn’t seem to fit me well enough. But after volunteering at two animal shelters for the past year and a half, I’ve found something that I love just as much as writing: shelter animals (and all other animals, too, of course).

Here's the opening page!
Here’s the opening page!

My blog is still taking its baby steps, but it’s growing. I’d love to reach more people and have more feedback, so I’ve posted the link here. Where better to get opinions than from a minor filled with writers?!

Actually, though, I’d love more eyes on my writing and the ability to educate more people about animal rescue, animal shelters, and animal rights. Sure, maybe only one or two of you will click and follow my blog. But maybe you’ll pass it on to people who are also in love with animals, and I’ll be able to change the way people see a lot of myths and rumors about animal shelters. It might take awhile to get my message out there, but even so, I’ll always enjoy writing about my passion.

growth and me: an e-port plan

As I delve further into the Minor in Writing program I have become more comfortable in talking about my writing while in the process of writing. That being said, glancing over the e-portfolio prompt I have an overwhelming feeling of anxiety towards it. While gathering the elements required to construct a complete portfolio won’t be too difficult, the presentation and aura of the site will certainly prove to be challenging. Essentially, the e-portfolio is asking us to represent ourselves, our identity as writers in a digital space that can be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Similar to my attitudes towards blogging to an audience of everyone, this e-portfolio puts those sentiments into a larger context.

As I browse the very specific questions asked of us on the prompt page, one draws to me particularly, “How do you want to present yourself as a writer?” I think on a subconscious level I am always aware of how I present myself and how I sound to others, that is someone who chooses her words wisely and likes to write. To explicitly answer this question by way of a portfolio will be a little more daunting. I want my portfolio to act as a springboard and parallel my writing style and personality. I want the reader to walk away with a sense of my writer’s identity through the materials I present to them.

This will be my second time constructing an e-portfolio, as I was required to do one for my Environmental Journalism class. We did a lot of metawriting on our sites but nothing to advanced as far as layout and theme. Like the minor portfolio, many components go into the overall product which enhances the experience of showcasing the work of the course.

This time around, I think starting early in my ideas will only be beneficial to me in the long run. Even this post is making me excited to play around with content and layout during spring break next week with all the free time I’ll be having by staying in the polar vortex. I know the words I put on the page are as equally as important as the layout. I want my site to be exciting and something that I won’t get bored of looking at or updating (similar to how I want to feel about my re-purposing and re-mediation projects).

Since I’ve decided to do a re-purposing piece that involves me talking about my relationship with drinking and how that has evolved since college has started, I want my guiding thesis for the site to be that of personal growth. The person I was in September 2011 (when I started college) might as well be a different person than who I am today. I want to take my readers on a journey through writing and exploring this growth theme. Perhaps too I could incorporate the subtheme of what’s involved in growth, like failures, triumphs, and learning, with sample pieces to illustrate them.

My exploration of this theme through my portfolio stems in part to my philosophy on life and education. I frequently ask myself, what is it I’m doing today that makes me get better, learn? My biggest error in life would be to go through not quenching my thirst for knowledge and desire for growth. Hopefully I can capture these feelings in my e-portfolio.

Blogging

I’ve never really taken the time to work on a blog for a long period of time, and this semester has been a great introduction into what it’s like to track progress and post constantly on it. I really like how we had a structure to follow and how it paralleled the work we were doing so that looking back, it’s almost like a diary.

In fact, I’ve always regretted not keeping an ongoing diary of places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to so many places and meet so many people, but I kept putting it off until there were too many memories to try and go back and capture. Part of it, I think, is the daunting nature of writing a diary entry, it seems we have to catalogue everything that happened in a day, and we have to make it artistic, unique, and reflective.

I think the strength of blogging, as we’ve learned this semester, is the ability to have short spurts of inspiration, to catalogue briefly, but constantly. It could be the shortest blurb or even just a picture, but when taken together, it represents a complete package. It’s also one of the most direct and easily bridged links into the digital medium. Writing our thoughts, after all, isn’t much different between paper and webpage. But what I’ve realized, is that once I’ve started experimenting, there are so many different mediums to use when we’re on the internet that we can link to virtually anything, post anything.

One of the hardest parts of blogging for me throughout this class has been remembering to do it every week. This is another habit that I think can be developed. Gradually, I think I’ve gotten better at it (minus this post since finals week caught up a little with me). What’s really inspiring is that I’m incredibly proud of remembering, and when I look back at all my posts, it’s satisfying and very interesting to see my progress throughout the semester.

And that’s my main takeaway from blogging for this class. Having recorded my progression, I can now view it backwards and see how I’ve changed, and figure out what I really improved and what I still need to work on. So if there was ever a reason to blog, it’s because it’s not just for people who would potentially like to read it, it’s for us. For us to see how we change and how we can use that change to build our futures.

Blogging Persona

At the very beginning of the semester, I was brand new to blogging.  It was something I had never done before, and I was admittedly skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy it.  I have said earlier that I am much more used to doing formal writing, so at first, I was unsure what sort of writing style to use in my blogs.  I didn’t know how personal I should be or how structured my blogs had to be.  As I continued to post, however, things became much easier and I began to feel much more comfortable sharing with my peers.  That whole idea of directly sharing with so many other students was also very new to me, and I didn’t know what to think about it at the beginning.  This was the first time I that I knew when I clicked “Publish” my writing would be on display for so many others to see.  This definitely made me nervous and even more unsure of what kind of writing my blogs should consist of.

I think it really helped me to read other students’ blogs, as well as their comments on my own blogs.  It helped me realize that the whole blogging world, at least as far as I’m concerned, is all about communication.  I saw how other students loved to share what they were going through on a certain subject, even if they were struggling.  This notion really hit home when I read some comments from students offering me suggestions for my own issues.  Now, I see blogging not as a tedious task, but as something that could be very helpful and even sometimes therapeutic.  For some reason, I find it much easier to write about what I’m struggling with than to talk about it.  This blog gives me the perfect forum to do so, and even provides me with potential aid in the form of my fellow students

putting on my bloggerpants

I think what scared me the most about blogging at the beginning of the semester was the freedom. Even though every week we’re given guidelines and suggestions, when it comes time to sit down on my WordPress dashboard I usually end up doing the whole “write a word, no that sounds dumb, write a sentence, ehhh” dance. I tend to want to jump around and address all different topics related to the prompt, or change my mind all over the place, and I’ve found it’s a lot easier to control these tendencies over longer, more academic pieces than for these blogs. So this class has definitely taught me the importance of being succinct yet comprehensive over just a few paragraphs. (Though I’m not sure my rambling tendencies will ever go away)

I’d also never really written in the kind of conversational tone I associate with blogging before this class, and especially early in the semester found myself self-conscious writing directly to my classmates (in retrospect, none of you are scary at all). I’ve grown a lot more comfortable blogging, and I think I’ve started to get the hang of the balance between super formality and super personal. I still haven’t gotten the hang of blogging with images (my instinct right now is to post a picture of pants to elude to the title of this post. I have since talked myself out of that idea), so that’s something to work on.

I’ve noticed that throughout the semester as a class we’ve collectively become more comfortable with blogging and each other’s styles, and I know that’s definitely helped me benefit from the blog beyond our required posts and comments. thanks guys!

 

The Sartorialist

laughing

The Sartorialist is my favorite fashion blog to visit on a regular basis. I first heard about the “Sartorialist” blog through a NY Times article, which praised fashion photographer Scott Schumann for creating the popular blog which has won numerous praise from prominent fashion critics. Schumann has been a successful fashion photographer for decades with his work being featured in a magazines such as Vogue, GQ, and Interview, and has created fashion campaigns for some of the hottest names around such as Gap, Crate and Barrel, and Burberry. After quitting his job in 2005, Schumann began walking around the city sidewalks in New York City with his camera taking photos everywhere he went. Schumann began posting these photos on his blog and quickly began to attract the attention of fashion admirers.

Some of his subjects includes famous models, fashion photographers, musicians, or other celebrities but most of the photos are of regular people.  All the photos have this causal essence, as if Schumann just ran into someone in the middle of the sidewalk and simply asked for a photograph. This is what I love about the Sartorialist and why it is such an inspirational fashion blog for me, because I feel it is easy to connect to the fashion through his photographs which seem so effortless and simple both artistically and fashionably. When I look through Schumann’s blog I always get inspired and think that it would be so simple to recreate the looks his models present – and that’s what fashion is about right? Style choices that are attainable and pleasing to the eye. Schumann achieves this perfectly and is why his blog has remained relevant for so long. 

 

Foodgawker

I love eating delicious food.  And looking at delicious-looking food.  And just food in general.  That’s why Foodgawker.com has earned a top spot in my internet-surfing repertoire.

Foodgawker is not so much a blog as it is a collection of food photography.  The editors collect photographs from food bloggers around the world, categorize them, and repost the pictures into a large, searchable, drool-worthy gallery, always linking to the original post by the photographer/food blogger.

There are three main reasons why I love Foodgawker (and why you should, too):

  1. Photographs
  2. Dozens of categories
  3. Links

Photographs:

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 12.15.38 PM

S’mores Brownies.  Enough said.

Categories:

Foodgawker labels and organizes its posts very well.  This allows you to search by type of food (ex: Nutella), type of dish (ex: dessert), and even by submitter of the post.  The multitude of categories also makes it incredibly simple to find diet-specific foods, such as vegan or gluten-free recipes.

Links:

Clicking on a post on Foodgawker will bring you directly to the original post of the submitter, which is usually on a personal food blog.  This gives you the recipe so you can make delicious food for yourself at home, as well as background on the recipe and reasons why the original creator/their family/their friends enjoy it.  I love this feature because reading a recipe off a food blog makes me feel as if I’m getting the information from a friend rather than the anonymous sources behind general recipe websites.  Foodgawker gives me access to thousands of blogs and points of view that I may not otherwise have found.  And although I have not started following any specific food blogs, I like knowing where I can find them.

 

Oh, and did I mention the food?

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 12.21.07 PM

Eggplant Penne Pasta Bake

I am a Feminist. Not crazy. Check out this Blog.

First of all, here’s the link to the blog I’m promoting in this post: http://www.the-broad-side.com

I am not a blogger; I do not follow any blogs; and honestly I find even doing these blog posts confusing and sometimes annoying. However, while attempting to locate a blog to share with you all, which was made quite easy by the wonderful Google blogs site, I came across a blog containing everything I’m increasingly passionate about lately.

Now, I am not a crazy, anti-shaving, anti-men, anti-bra woman. I’m actually quite fond of all three of those things. But lately I have come to realize that being a feminist doesn’t have to do with any of the stereotypical things I thought it did. I shave my legs, I respect men, and I do wear bras. However, I do think that being proud to be a woman and being proud to have my own opinion is something that shouldn’t be surprising to people. I hope to one day empower young girls to be confident in their own self-image and to be proud of being a woman.

The Broad Side’s slogan is “Real Women. Real Opinions.” I haven’t read through too many of their posts, but from what I have read, I think this blog would be really essential in empowering woman and girls to be critical thinkers of political and social issues of this day and age. The first article I saw was on the surface about the lovely Miley Cyrus and her twerking expo at the VMA’s, but as I kept reading, it was actually about how Miley was getting all the crap while Robin Thick wasn’t being slandered at all. Now what’s up with that? Anybody actually seen his video? Miley wasn’t doing anything that Robin Thick wasn’t having his video girls doing. Check out the blog… check out this post specifically for more about that.

It’s not an anti-men blog. I can’t say with 100% confidence, but I’m guessing most of the bloggers on this site shave their legs. And while they probably aren’t at the time of blogging, since who does at home anyways, they probably all wear bras, too.

For anybody who would like a short intro to just one of the many feminist arguments to see if it might be worth looking into more, or for anybody who just loves darn cute kids, check out Riley on Marketing because Riley is so awesome.

Disclaimer: Riley on Marketing is a YouTube video that was shared in my Women’s Studies 220 class on September 18th. It is a public video posted by dbarry1917 on YouTube. I did not create it, I’m just sharing for your viewing pleasure.

Food Blogs That Are Something To Drool Over

If you are a food blog, well you have already won over my heart, my mind, and absolutely my stomach. I was having a conversation with someone the other day about how much I enjoyed watching the cooking channel (I can’t fall asleep without it on, if I’m to be honest) and he stared back at me with a blank expression, as if food could actually mean nothing to some people. Hopefully, those that are reading this blog do not share his ambivalence towards the art of meal creation because this one is all about food.

Besides the daily pinterest recipe browse and the obvious 3x per day, food enters my life through the casual perusal of picture-filled food blogs. Possibly the allure comes from my knowledge of food, so I know that the pictures I see would taste good based on the fact that I know these individual flavors mesh together. Maybe I just like the pretty pictures and have a literal insatiable hunger, either way these forums drive me wild.

Smitten Kitchen is a particularly famous blog that is well-known for their pictures and recipes. It’s one of those sites where you can either come because you just like looking at pretty things, or you can come to mooch off their creativity to satisfy your noms. Either way, it’s definitely worth a few glances.

Another blog that satisfies my passion for food and also my obsession with Detroit is Detroit Foodie. I only discovered this one recently after living in Detroit and scoping out the food scene, but even if you don’t make the monthly pilgrimage to midtown like I do, you should still check this one out. They write about restaurants in and around Detroit, and it definitely has a young vibe which is where the city seems to be heading.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a chuckle, chortle, or snort you should check out Hannah Hart’s vlog. My Drunk Kitchen is her fun weekly web series, but she is actually passionate about the craft (especially the alcohol). It takes a very casual and haphazard approach to cooking, which may make it more approachable to those not familiar with the nitty-gritty of the gastronomic scene.

A Blog I’m Reading– and why you should be Skimming, too

Okay, so I’m going to start off by admitting that I’m not exactly the best at following the news. I know there are a ton of super important things going on in the world, and I really do want to stay informed about as many of them as possible. But when it comes down to it, instead of surfing some news sites and getting-my-good-citizen-on,  I somehow end up reading Buzzfeed articles about important topics like forgotten toys of the ’90s or even worse, Miley Cyrus’s new outfit. It’s not like I really care about these things, but somehow I always get drawn in by the bright pictures and flashy titles, one after another. So even though BuzzFeed is probably the blog I read most (and BuzzFeed is wonderful, really), it’s not the one I want to talk about today.

Instead, I’d like to introduce you to The Skimm. I haven’t been reading it for very long, so I’m not an authority by any means, but basically the idea is that the writers of the site “do the reading for you and explain it with fresh editorial content, breaking down what you need to know to start the conversation.” Sounds easy enough, right? Plus, Skimm markets itself toward “the educated professional who knows enough to know she needs more,” so it’s MADE for people who consider themselves educated professionals. And I’m (semi) educated and (almost/kinda) professional, so it’s (basically) made just for me! Essentially, the Skimm gives you the gist of all the important stuff going on in the world and simplifies all the different headlines and stories into a few short paragraphs . The site claims to be non-partisan, though I get a feeling its creators might lean a little to the left. I also think it’s kind of interesting that the site is geared towards women (they say “know SHE needs more,” plus their icon is a perfectly put-together businesswoman type). It’s certainly refreshing to see a news posting that caters to professional women, but it’s not as if buisnessMEN are automatically born with political insight, and I haven’t seen anything similar in a male version, so I personally think the site might be better served if it were marketed for all professional people so that guys aren’t discouraged from reading too.

TheSkimm isn’t the be-all-end-all of news sources by any means, but I’ve found it’s a great place for someone like me to start. If you’re not the greatest at maintaining awareness and well-rounded knowledge about everything in the world, you might want to take a look at it, too. And even if you are a news nerd, it still might be worth tuning in every once in awhile for the entertaining and often humorous way Skimm manages to get the news out.