Catching up

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I can’t believe how fast this year is going. We are already a week away from midterms. The Barrett-Jackson car show, the Phoenix Open, and the Arabian Horse Show have come and gone. It’s getting ready to be spring, and we’ve only just had our first rain of the year. Probably one of the more perfect times in our corner of the desert, and what people fall in love with when they come for a visit. Especially with the kind of winter everyone has been suffering through this year! Polar vortex indeed.

Chicago, I love you. But I’m so glad I’m not there right now.

It makes me glad to be here, but at the same time the snowbirds glory in our 80° February, what they don’t realize is that even for us, it’s unseasonably warm – and dry. It harkens to a tough year ahead for fire season, drought, habitat loss, and stress on wildlife. Not to mention a scorching May – September. I’m trying not to think of that now, and just revel in the glory of living someplace snow-and-windchill free.

salt margaritas

I feel a blog re-vamp coming on (again), so look for some changes coming up. While I have loved using WordPress.org, and having the customization freedom it offers, I am frustrated by the fact that when I read through some of my posts, half the time the pictures don’t show up (WTF?). And the whole hosting situation is a pain in the rear. So I’m looking to move the whole operation over to another web hosting site, hopefully with lots of improvements.

I’m taking Austin Kleon‘s advice from STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, and stealing ideas for how to make this site better. Austin sends out occasional newsletters with a quick update on his projects, along with links to interesting things he’s found on the internet recently. Alex Yeske from Dreams + Jeans blogs beautiful pictures and product recommendations. I really like how both of these bloggers give a succinct post, paired with images, and suggestions from around the web, and hope to implement their best practices here. 

I’d also like to make to make this site better for YOU, my readers. Any comments? Suggestions on improvements? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

Here are some recent photos:

My work wall before a re-do
my new workspace, ready for inspiration
a typography sketch
this is from my life drawing class.
I draw naked people.
one of the best things about Arizona: sunsets.
my chickens decided to lay their eggs in the compost pile.
more typography practice
another sunset :)
juniper, our new puppy, likes to hang out with Keira while she eats.
wax barbie molds I’m working on for a sculpture project.
me, posing in sculpture class – trying to figure out how to pose Barbie for my sculpture. Suffering for your art means sometimes exposing your true dorkiness.
barbie parts, a tree, and a desk…hmmm, what will it be? Stay tuned.
My #1 Monkey, winning a soccer game. Love the color combo.
I told him his Polish was showing :)
My #2 Monkey, hogging my spot. That’s ok. No matter how big they get, I still like to watch them sleep.
a birthday present for my sister-in-law. I’ve been really inspired by a uk artist found here: http://lexwilson.co.uk/
My first non-school exhibition
pretty mama Chroicoragh ♡
A reader came to visit. She’d never seen Gypsy Horses in person, and we had a great time playing with the girls. Thanks, Jordan!

 

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why instagram is winning

As a writer, blogger, and social media user, I’m pretty social.

  • I have a Facebook Page (not my favorite form of social media – but crucial):
facebook page
Chroi and Me on facebook

 

@heidhorch
my twitter feed: @heidhorch

 

senior share project
senior share project

 

  • Another tumblr, all horse pictures, all the time, for the horse crazy girls out there:
gypsy horses all the time
gypsy horses all the time

 

  • Another tumblr, where I tried to start my own meme (specific sense of humor required – YOU can submit your own here):
collage fromage
collage fromage

 

  • Another tumblr:
moongroove
moongroove

 

  • And another tumblr that seemed like a good idea but I keep forgetting to post on  it (maybe you could help out) it’s where I highlight found pieces of text from anywhere on the internet and showcase horrible punctuation and grammatical errors. I’m just sick of everyone being so stupid. (warning: mature language):
stupid in public learn how to use an apostrophe
stupid in public
learn how to use an apostrophe

 

  • And don’t forget Pinterest. (how could you?):
my Pinterest page HeidHorch
my Pinterest page HeidHorch

 

But when I want to instantly convey what I’m experiencing at any given moment, the go-to is Instagram:

Instagram - @heidhorch
Instagram – @heidhorch

Instagram is becoming my go-to choice for social media.

  • it’s instant (duh) — versus a blog post which can take me a few days to write, illustrate and edit.
  • it’s easy — take a photo, edit, and share. It can go right to your other social media accounts.
  • it’s addicting — so many horses! so little time :)
  • it’s visual — just like me.
  • paired with Twitter, Instagram is a powerhouse for connecting with your potential audience.
  • And now with video, it’s even more engaging. (Although I hear the Vine app is pretty cool too.)

It’s great because I can share something the minute I think of it. Pictures of our trip to the beach, Keira’s training, a recent concert, whatever art I’m working on, and the perennial favorite: my cat.

You can follow me here, and you can get the app here.

Instagram tips:

  • Cross-connect Instagram with other social media by using the same user name across the board (i.e., heidhorch). If you are SassySally on Twitter, Sally123 on Instagram and CraftySal on Pinterest, you readers don’t know that all three are YOU.
  • Follow people with similar interests to broaden your readership. For instance, I write about horses, writing, and art, so I follow horse people, writers, and artists. If they like my stuff on Instagram, they’ll (hopefully) follow the link in my profile to my blog.
  • Make sure you include a link to your blog (or Twitter account, or your main online page) in your profile!

Here are a few recent images:

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.13.30 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.12.58 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.12.24 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.12.01 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.11.29 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.14.38 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.11.03 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.13.59 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.28.34 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.28.08 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.27.18 PM

corona

Check out Instagram. And if you’re already there, check out my feed (link above).

So, tell me — What do you like about Instagram?

Free Publicity? No Way! (Ok, but you have to buy me shoes)

If you are a horse breeder or newly published author or some other type of quasi-professional needing free publicity, and would like your farm or book featured, please send your website and email address to: wcgypsy(at)me.com or use contact form below. You will be contacted when space becomes available. I am also interested in emerging artists, and would be happy to consider adding a “gallery” category to the blog.

If you have a strong dislike for swearing and brutal honesty, you probably won’t like my site.

Writers: If you have an idea for a guest post, please send me a brief pitch and a link to your blog so I can see what your writing is like. With your post, you will get a link back to your site, social media promotion for the week it is posted and I expect the same from you. We help each other out. wcgypsy(at)me.com Make sure your idea fits in my blog somehow. No religion-themed writing accepted.

Only those with a website or blog will be considered. (If all you have is a Facebook fan page, step up your game and get serious. Facebook is essential for social media, but it does not substitute for your own website. There are tons of free hosting platforms. I recommend WordPress.com or Tumblr. My site is run on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform which I don’t recommend unless you: 1. really know your computer shit, in which case you already know about wordpress.org; or, 2. you are completely crazy, like me.)

I do not do paid promotions, I recommend things that I personally like and do not hire out my opinion. Anything and everything on my site that links to another site is either because it is information that I myself find useful; or I am giving credit to a source; or I know the author or business owner PERSONALLY and by talking about their craft, service or linking to their business, I am giving them my personal support.

If you like what you read or would like to thank me for linking to you or talking about you, Please reciprocate by sending people to my site.

Here is a link: http://westceltgypsy.com

(To share a link, right-click on the link, choose “copy” from the drop-down menu, open up a new email message, and in the body of the message, right-click again, choose “paste” from the drop-down menu, and a copy of the link should appear. Then put “Check out this awesome website!” in the subject line, and mail it to as many people as you know. You can also paste the link into your facebook status or tweet about it or PIN ALL THE THINGS!)

Also, I wear size 7 ½ shoes.

oscar de la renta shoes

 

 

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Focus

It’s never been one of my strong points. I’m amazed at people who can choose just one thing, make that their prime concern, and follow one straight path all the way up to the top to succeed in that one thing. Examples are everywhere, but one that stood out to me recently is a guy named Jeremy Wade, who Animal Planet describes as an “extreme angler,” which means this guy is really good at catching really big fish. Particularly those dwelling in rivers.

In fact, he’s gotten so good at catching huge fish that he’s been able to make a living at it. He goes all over the world, meeting incredibly interesting people, and helping them discover and catch the thing under the water that ate their cousin last week.

Now, that’s a pretty specialized field of expertise. He started out with a zoology degree, taught school, traveled and wrote, and all the while had a curiosity to find these really big fish.

There are days when I would love to have that kind of focus. The problem is, there are too many great things I’d like to try. And some I’d even like to accomplish.

I’ve mentioned my creative side before. That creativity, coupled with a genuine interest in everything around me, or in it’s simplest form, curiosity, produce what my dad refers to as a “Jane” of all trades and master of none. Well, he’s got the Master of None part right, anyway.

 

(side note: this is part of the reason I love Wikipedia. They actually have a page about the saying Jack of all trades. From it, I just learned that I can also be referred to as a generalist — another useless tidbit of information that might come in handy if you ever qualify as a contestant on Jeopardy!)

Anyway, back to focus (see what I mean??) Is it a type A/type B personality thing? Or is it just ADD? I wonder. You hear about focus in regard to athletes. They train vigorously night and day. Championships lead to scholarships, which lead to careers, then sponsorships and if they’re lucky they can spend their retirement as network commentators. All because of focus in one specific area.

What causes someone like Michael Phelps (a specialist) to be supremely focused on swimming; training constantly, over many years, to reach a pinnacle matched by no other swimmer?

And someone like me to be so macro-focused as to want to try it all:

  • ballet
  • cheerleading
  • theater
  • yoga
  • bellydance
  • sky dive
  • deejay
  • paint
  • sew
  • write
  • blog
  • web master
  • horse owner
  • cook
  • wife
  • mom

I mean, does it make me well-rounded or just plain crazy? And what about all the things I have yet to do:

  • earn a college degree
  • world traveling
  • graphic design
  • wood crafting
  • screen writing
  • advertising (Don Draper, you’re my hero)*
  • stand-up comedy (Kathy GRIF-fin!)**
  • star in my own show on the Travel Channel (it could happen)
  • write for Family Guy (or at least sit in on a recording session)
  • be a guest panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
  • live in a little cottage in the woods, on the beach, with a pasture for the horses and a big red barn. And a studio. And a chicken coop. And a gourmet kitchen. (it could happen)
  • finish my book

The problem with being a generalist is that all of these interests and pursuits take time. I’ve never been fast at anything, and each new thing I want to do, i.e., build a website or blog, takes time to learn.
Time, research, and a few …For Dummies books:

So, even though I don’t have a full-time job, and people wonder why I am always so busy, it’s because I’m teaching myself new things, learning more and more every day about the way the world is working nowadays, or trying to work, and what trends to follow, what to avoid, products and services that might be better or worse than others, while at the same time keeping up with the latest in publishing news – or trying to keep up, as the case may be, since the industry is changing more and more every time I see it.

I’m also trying to keep up with the everyday stuff, too – like everyone else out there. Taking care of my husband and two boys, housework (blah), laundry (double blah), and now that the kids are fully fledged teen males, more and more of my time is spent grocery shopping (eh), cooking (which I actually like), and cleaning up (which I actually don’t like).

And in my free time :) I sew.

And because I always have a movie playing in my head:

*you have to say this in the voice of Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off .

**you have to say this in the voice Kathy Griffin uses when she’s imitating the way Oprah Winfrey welcomes her guests.

So what kind of crazy stuff do you do?

Stats

Have any of you seen The Social Network? I highly recommend it. Not only because I am just a teeny tiny bit of a computer nerd, but as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, it’s just a really really good movie.

I’ll let you form your own opinions, but the one thing that stood out to me as I watched the film was a scene where one of the characters said to Mark Zuckerberg, “you got 22,000 hits in two hours? Wow.”

And all the computer-nerd-blogger in me could think was: Wow.

A “hit,” or pageview, is recorded anytime someone downloads your page. For instance, since you are reading this post, you have generated one hiton this page.When I first started blogging, there wasn’t an easy way to see how much traffic your site was getting. But then Bloggerreleased a new feature called Stats. It’s totally awesome. Here is what I see when I go to my stats page:

I can see how many visits I’ve had in a week (or day,month, etc.)
which posts are getting the most hits:

where my traffic is coming from (how people are finding me, i.e., did you find me through Google, my website, facebook, or another blog?)

I can also see what part of the world my readers are from, and what operating system they use:

How cool is that? What’s up, Pakistan! Hello, China! Cheers, UK! Bon Jour, France! Slovenia? Who would’ve thought?? Malaysia? Come on! And of course my buddies up north, eh?

The thing I love about stats is that it tells me that all is not lost. I am not alone. My parents are not the only ones reading my blog (hi guys!) And it propels me to do more. It’s kind of like crack. I see some hits, and I want to see more. So I keep writing.

So thanks to everyone out there in the world who wanders onto my blog. I hope you like it. I hope you find it worthwhile to come back. And I hope you tell your friends about it.

I may not be a computer engineer on a college campus getting 22,000 hits in two hours, but I am totally psyched to see this when I open my stats page:

Yay!! We hit the 1,000 mark!
Thank you.

It’s 2:00 in the morning…

Why am I up?
Well, in the process of writing my next post (about blogging), I realized I was using an awful lot of blog terminology that some of my readers (Yay! I have more than one!) may not be familiar with. 

I know that when I started writing my blog, and figuring it all out, I would come across terms like blogroll and follow. I didn’t know a post from a comment, and I sure didn’t know what RSS meant. Well, to tell you the truth, that one’s still a little foggy to me, but onward. 

So I Googled and read my …For Dummies books, and slowly got familiar with all of this blogology. But I thought I’d make it easier on you, so I made a Glossary page! 
Wait, you have to say it in the Oprah voice like she’s giving away free Lancome or something…ready? 

GLOSS-A-RY!!

OK, much better. Sorry, but it’s late and I’m a little punchy. For a multitude of reasons (Horse, Kids, School, Work, American Idol) two o’clock is the time of day when I have nothing else going on and can actually concentrate on writing.

So do me a favor, check out my Glossary of Blog Terms page, and let me know what you think. Hopefully it will bring clarity to those of you new to this medium. Feel free to shout out a term you’ve been hearing but don’t know, and I will do my best to find it for you. It will be added to as need arises. I also plan on adding a Glossary of Horse Terms page in the future.

Now, due to the severity and frequency of my typos, and the frustration of constantly having to correct them, I feel the need to retire to my bedchamber. 
So farewell and goodnight!