In Defense of the #HumanBlogger: Why it's okay to not always be okay.

So. I'm a happy-go-lucky celebrations and home decor blogger/enthusiast... Who hasn't been feeling happy lately, and therefore hasn't blogged.

And every day that I feel a tiny bit better, I'm completely turned off by the idea of returning to a space where it's like everything is sunshine and lollipops. A space that remains untouched by the awful real life stuff that's been surrounding me offline. The robotic, nonhuman online persona that pretends everything is roses and perpetuates a fakeness I really don't have the patience for lately. So, it's been a vicious cycle of not blogging.


While I've been busily freaking out about reality and where blogging fits into that, I started thinking about why I started reading blogs in the first place. The main reason? To read real people talking about real experiences. Blogs weren't some over-edited and faceless website with tons of information but no soul. Blogs were written by humans, for humans.

But. If we are constantly showing only "after" pictures, and talking about only the recipes that worked, and sharing details of our lives only from the good days....are we not basically rejecting that humanity? Aren't we then just as soulless as the SEO driven About.com style websites that I traded in for blogs?

I decided I would take a chance here. Be real. Maybe try to make that realness a habit.

So here's the story.

A friend of mine passed away. It's all I've been able to think about. It has caused both lags and heavy spurts of some of the behaviours I typically blog about, because the things I share with the world are things that are fundamental to me being me. After a week of crying everyday, cooking elaborate meals and finishing crafty projects helped me regain control. But, again... I didn't want to blog about it. I was afraid to even talk about it. The only thing worse than the guilt of trying to feel better about the whole situation was the idea of coming here and pretending it had never happened.

The days before my friend died I was actually on the ball (for once) with this whole blogging thing. I had two scheduled posts for the week, and a few tweets scheduled. I realized quickly that despite my Twitter being the last thing on my mind, it was going on business as usual. I hated knowing that my online presence seemed unaffected, but understood the value in it. I didn't want to scare people away.

Yesterday I read an inspirational blog post by Stetted Blog (here) which unexpectedly pulled my heart strings. The post itself is about a Black Forest Cake recipe (pictured above), but describes the baking process as a type of therapy. The blogger seems hesitant to go into too much detail, and titles the post "Black Forest Cake", which (intentional or not) avoids drawing attention to the rest. There is mention of a fear that readers would run for the hills if she talked too openly about her emotions on a food blog, including experiences with depression/anxiety. From title to comments, the whole post broke my heart a little (even the recipe... I'm guessing emotional cherry smashing makes for extra delicious cake). 

I'm proud of that blogger for opening up even a little bit about something so real, when it is clearly not easy. I'm annoyed with the world for making real people (who happen to blog, run a business, or have some sort of online reputation) feel that they have to hide their humanity.

My day job is in mental health. I'm a heavily moderated stigma buster. I very rarely speak out against things that bother me here, because I prefer to stay shiny and happy online.

But I'm not in the mood. And frankly, if we encourage this expectation that bloggers leave their turmoil at the door, then we are assholes. Yup. We're basically sending our favourite people down a path towards poor mental health (or worse) because we only want to hear the "good stuff". As if finding out that the cherries being smashed to deal with stress makes them any less sweet. Oy,

Here's my argument, using myself as an example.

I blog as a creative outlet, which makes me happy. It increases self pride. It increases my confidence. It encourages me to continue doing what I love in order to keep creating content to blog about, thereby creating a cycle of positive, healthy experiences.

But. Taking into consideration the way I started this post... when things went wrong, my blog stopped feeling like a safe place. It made me feel guilty, both for wanting to move on from my grief and for not being ready to be the bubblegum blogger I'm expected to be. It actually made a shitty situation feel worse, in a way that should seem so incredibly insignificant in a matter of life and death.

This fear that I could lose my safe place by sharing my feelings and digressing a little bit from my blog's purpose.... that fear is toxic. It is the same as the stigma of talking openly about mental health. The stigma keeps me from blogging (read: keeps me from happy things) and fills me with unfounded negative thoughts (read: makes me dislike myself). It is toxic.

If this stigma affects me with my handful of regular readers... imagine what it's doing to the bloggers with a huge following. If I stopped blogging tomorrow because I just couldn't stand the pressure to smile pretty for the blogosphere, nobody would really be affected. But if, say, Elsie or Emma from a Beautiful Mess went silent, there are tons of people who would have a void to fill.  If we love those blogs, and therefore want those bloggers active... we should be encouraging the positive mental health of those human beings who happen to write awesome blogs.

Here's my proposal:

Let's start showing it's okay to talk about real shit by supporting the people who are already doing it. Reduce the stigma by showing it's okay to talk about. Comment on blog posts or status updates instead of awkwardly averting your eyes. Share posts that are open and honest. Spread the word that you understand that bloggers are people too. Let's encourage more delicious cherry smashing therapy,  like on Stetted Blog. The emotions add flavour.

Use the hashtag: #humanblogger so other people (including me) can keep up with the conversation. 

Want to go even further? Grab the button below.

If even a few people embrace this #HumanBlogger concept, I will be ecstatic. I hope to see some humanity in my newsfeed.



From Kitchen to Craft Room: Before/Process Photos

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a lot of stuff...

...aaaand, that's basically the story of my life. But today is the story of my craft room--so let's narrow down the "lot of stuff" to that room, oki doke? Merci.

In my first "serious" apartment, I was blessed with a super awkward house layout that led to me getting what was supposed to be (and sized to be!) the living room as my craft room/office space. It was a very, very beige room with almost no light or outlets, but it was my baby.

Here are my terrible photos of the Clem workspace, circa 2011--the space Clementine was founded in:

Ah, memories. You'd be amazed how many power cables were daisy-chained in there to make that work. And how many naps were taken on the various work surfaces... Sigh. As you can see, I crammed a whole lot into one room. There is so much stuff in there, and it's not even remotely organized. But. Having that space made me greedy... How could I ever go without a craft room ever again?! Short answer: I couldn't. Never. Ever.

In early 2012, in a fog of fever induced delirium, I became a home owner. I fell in love with an adorable 1950's cottage-type house with a hundred zillion bedrooms and absolutely had to have it. The house was pretty much move-in ready and even had its own retrofit in-law-suite with a huge kitchen... which I knew I wanted to be my future lover craft space. It wasn't pretty, but I knew it could be! At the very least I was going to make it bearable for my (unbeknownst to me, nonexistent) future tenant...

Before discovering a few things about my house that convinced me not to rent out the suite (some of which were legal, not just greedy), a few oddities were dealt with and the kitchen was prettied up in a hurry. New floors, new appliances, and fresh paint on everything. I have never meant this so literally in my life. The only things in this kitchen not painted/recovered were the sink and countertops. Everything else was sprayed, brushed, rolled. or papered. My favourite detail is the faux beaded-board backsplash, which is beaded-board wallpaper with a coat of paint over it.

In the end, once it was decided I wouldn't be renting to anyone, I had a weird moment where I both winced at all the time/money/wistful feelings of unrequited love I'd just invested in the space, and danced for joy at the fact that I got to keep it all to myself.

It was a disorganized (but bordering on empty) mess for a long time while I decided what to do with it, and what kind of workspace I even wanted. I decided I wanted room to grow, as well as to step back and put the arts back into arts-and-crafts. It has been years since I've taken myself seriously artistically, and I wanted to include the potential for that in this room.

After a few pretty decent sales on storage furniture, I went to town. I purged. I tidied. I used wall anchors for stuff. It was a good time... until I needed one last thing/got sick for four weeks/summer happened and I just completely stopped mid-process.

Which is where I am now.

95% of the way there, and just itchin' to show you where I go to play.

So. There's no big reveal. Not quite yet. Call me a tease if you want to. I won't blame you.

I'm hoping to put the final touches on the room over the next week, so long as life cooperates. And I promise you that the second the final doodads and thingamabobs are put in place, the big reveal will be posted. Right here. Just for you. :)

Happy crafting!


2014 Goals Update + Craft & Guest Room before pics!

Here is my second quarterly update on my goals for 2014. It's a wee bit late, but I've been a busy girl over here!! My proof is in the progress below.

Here is my updated goals  list, with progress in brackets. (for full descriptions/rationale behind the goals, click here for the original post)

  1. Glam out my Bedroom {80% DONE!}
  2. Decorate the Munchkins' Room
  3. Tackle my Craft Room Clutter {95% DONE!}
  4. Sew a Stuffed Toy
  5. Knit Something Fun
  6. Make Homemade Bread
  7. Plant a (Successful) Container Garden
  8. *new!* Finish Guest/Play Room {99% DONE!}

Yes, I decided to add #8, which is a substantial project. You can read more about that here. And yes. it is almost done. So why bother adding it, you're wondering. That's easy enough to answer: because it makes me feel like I've accomplished something. There. Happy? I'm all about credit over here.

While those two projects are wrapped up, I thought I would get you excited about the two upcoming room reveals by showing you the before photos.

First and foremost, meet a photo of my craft room from when I moved in 2012. It's pretty blank, and doesn't seem to need a lot of explanation. As usual, I beg to differ... and will be posting later this week with a little more info on the before of this space. Stay tuned!

And here is a photo of my guest room, also circa 2012, in all its I-just-moved-in-so-I-don't-know-what-this-room-is-really-for-yet glory. Kinda looks like a tornado hit it. I just want to point out that I have no children, despite what the toys are telling you.... and the play mats. I'm apparently just a mom poser. And before you get mad at me for the before picture being a mess, therefore making any changes I make look extra impressive... I took other before photos. This is the extreme-before.

Both of these rooms have undergone their own She's All That style makeovers, and are on the brink of being blog ready. Trust me on this one---I would never, ever reveal those broken blue plastic blinds if I didn't have something cuter to show you in a hurry. :)

How are you doing with your own 2014 goals/resolutions? 


Clem Diaries: June Buggin'

June seemed a bit longer than the previous months of the year...which hopefully means that I will feel the summer is long enough to enjoy at least a piece of it. Wishful thinking? Maybe.

Seeing as the month felt long-ish, it seemed only fair to make this roundup of my monthly adventures a smidge longer than usual. Without further adieu, here is my month.

Oven Braised Mexican Beef
Nom Nom Paleo

So. Fun fact: Making an elaborate Mexican meal is a surefire way to cure the effects of a crappy weekend. This is part one of four delicious Mexican menu items I put together for what became Mexican Monday... and the leftovers from which necessitated a subsequent Mexican Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

(Another fun fact: I have about a hundred siblings, so grew up cooking in portions that would feed a whole lot more than two people. Hence so many leftovers... old habits die hard.)

Part two of my four course recipe--Mango salsa. Not entirely sure this counts as a full course, but paired with fresh slices of avocado and radish over the braised beef in a soft corn tortilla shell... it counts. Let's just trust me on this one.

Chipotle Style Cilantro Lime Rice
Chef in You

Part three of four is this rice...which, to be honest, was eaten during Mexican Tuesday and Wednesday but not so much on the Monday (I was incredibly distracted by the braised beef tacos. I refuse to apologize for that). This recipe is quite similar to my go-to Greek rice recipe---which is the same only with lemon and dill instead.

The fourth delicious addition to my Mexican themed foodie night was a simple cornbread. Me being who I am, of course, I made it slightly less simple by tossing in some diced jalapenos and fresh corn kernels before baking. And to make it extra not simple? I zested a lime into some butter, added a bit of honey, and slathered the honey-limey-buttery deliciousness all over it. I don't regret any of it.

This tutorial was pretty useful while making the mango salsa above. I saw a fella at a fruit stand cut a mango like this with such little effort that I decided I a) had to buy my mangoes off of him and b) had to learn how to cut them that way. My mangoes were a bit on the soft side, but it was still a fairly easy process once I looked it up.

I caught a cold at the beginning of June that I haven't quite been able to shake. Thunder Bay's latest virus trend is lingering coughs, so the idea of downing cough syrup for what is now going on five weeks was pretty dire. I will take a home remedy over store bought chemicals any day. This stuff tastes about fifteen times better than Buckleys, with the additional perk of being able to identify the ingredients. And another perk? Unlike versions which involve grated garlic, you don't smell quite as much like a steak marinade after using this.

I have been in love with super coconutty smoothies this month, and this recipe has that covered. Don't skip the coconut flakes. They will change your life.

For Father's Day, I had my dad and siblings over for DIY noodle bowls. The fanciest part? Homemade quick-pickled carrot and daikon radish. It's officially a staple in my fridge--and the only thing I have ever done with daikon radish. 

Travel Shopping Fix:
{ photo source: tinyfeast.com/blogs}

I spent a few days in Winnipeg this June, and had to pick my jaw off the floor in this adorable little stationery boutique. I spent an atrocious amount of money considering I was there for business, not pleasure... and I will frankly never be the same. I may have to devote a whole blog post to showing off a few of the fun things I picked up!

There's more where that came from! I am excited to share a few things with you in the next few weeks...just as soon as I get over the fact that it is already July. :)

Happy Wednesday!