A fresh start for 2015: from Gidget Goes Home to Nicole V. Bennett

Welcome to my new online home! Same me, same content; new, fresh, exciting look (and name). going boldly into 2015, one blog post at a time

It's a bit hard to believe I've been blogging for six and half years (that's gotta be like 20 in interweb years). A few months ago, I was starting to feel the spark of change barely starting to smolder.

It's like that itch I feel when I really really want to move the furniture around right now. Maybe this was inevitable since my house is too small for changing the configuration. It had to bleed over somewhere...

This time, I didn't scratch that itch right away though. I pondered a bit, prayed about my calling and direction, talked to friends and mentors, did some research, and looked for inspiration.

(Leaving my old online moniker behind is a bit scary. That name and identity were comfortable. Change is exciting, but it's also intimidating.)

It didn't take too much deliberating, because this new direction was pulling me strongly. And I already owned the domain. So I did it. What the heck! Here goes nothing! I took the plunge.

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I hired a very talented and sweet artist, who hand-lettered/painted my pretty logo. Don't you love it?

I'm been feverishly working to get this new blog up and running and I'll be honest, it's given me a renewed passion for blogging, taking me back to the hours I spent getting Gidget Goes Home up and running in my early online days. I've been fiddling with widgets and code and let's just say it's a bit out of my comfort zone and every time I click "save" I cross my fingers that I don't break the blog. :)

The biggest message that this re-branding says to me, to my own heart, is that I'm stepping out, making a bold statement, that I am actually pursuing this writing thing in a more intentional way.

I'm looking at myself as a writer who blogs, rather than a blogger who writes (which for me, is scarier, because the word writer feels so much more official, like it has to be earned or something).

So here I am. I'm a writer. Always have been.

A bit about the blog

I hope you like the new design-- my goal was that it was really user-friendly and that you'd be able to find your way around easier here.

You can see all my categories laid out up top in drop-down menus, and a highlighted post in each main category over on the sidebar. Down at the bottom of the page, you'll excerpts from me around social media. I even started a new Facebook page.

Maybe most exciting of all, is my updated newsletter. I've renamed it The Scoop and hope to use it a bit more this year to connect with my subscribers with special content and notes. If you haven't already, I hope you'll subscribe.

A little look back

As I say goodbye to Gidget Goes Home, I thought it'd be fun to take one last look back at some of the different styles she's worn over the years.

2008 (um, yes, that's Gigi, my seven-and-a-half-year old)

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2009

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2010

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2011

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2012

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2013

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Thanks for being here, reading along, whether it's since the beginning, or just recently. I'm grateful for each one of you, for the ministry God's given me here, and for His calling on my life to use this blog for fun and for His glory.

xoxo,

nicole :)

P.S. I appreciate your patience as I iron out the kinks. Please feel free to email me if you see any broken links or anything looking wonky.

Where blogging, community, and home collide

I finished grad school in the spring of 2006, and that fall I stayed on at my university as a part-time lecturer in Spanish. I also found out I was pregnant that fall. I continued my teaching job until a few weeks before the spring semester ended, when Gigi was born. I was never so career-driven that I wanted to pursue full-time teaching (not that the California budget made that a possibility anyway) or PhD, much to the disappointment of a few of my professors. I knew I wanted to stay home with my baby girl.

But I've always been an academic. I probably would have considered going back in the fall to teach one class a semester (every autumn I'm drawn to school supplies-- bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, anyone?-- and books and curriculum and learning) if we hadn't moved out of state, where I had no university connections.

It was there, in Colorado, where I first settled into officially being "at home." I joined a wonderful moms' Bible study and enjoyed days full of analyzing my baby's schedule, making baby food, researching cloth diapers and green living, documenting milestones, and learning about home management, organization, and productivity.

When I finally decided I needed an outlet for expressing other thoughts, findings, book reviews (besides just the family photo updates that were regularly posted on our family blog), I also discovered that the blogosphere wasn't just a place to park my soapbox (which I've long-since abandoned anyway), it was a real, live community.

The blog community was a place where I could be home-based but also well-connected, and exposed to ideas, deep conversations, and inspiration,  my academic mind stimulated and my new-mama heart encouraged. I really fell in love with blogging, and connecting over the enigma that is the internet with other kindred spirits who tap down thoughts and click publish.

When I started my first non-family-photo-album blog, I chose the name Gidget Goes Green, enjoying the alliteration and fun use of my childhood pseudonym of choice, along with my new passion to research and write about green living.

But very shortly thereafter (maybe a month later?), I changed the name-- I wanted to broaden my writing topics, and I realized that most everything I wanted to write about related in one way or another to the home. Not just to the physical walls and roof, but to a heart of hospitality, to the elements of homemaking, to the place where we gather to love, and eat, and discuss the deeper issues of life.

jane austen quote about home

jane austen quote about home

Last week I read an old-ish post by Emily Freeman that I really loved and was struck with resounding feelings of yes, when I read these words:

Home isn’t either beautiful or not, happy or sad, full or empty. Home is both and home is and, whether home is church or family or a cul-de-sac. Home has good parts, hard parts, marvelous and miracle parts. Home is where we celebrate and where we grieve, where we are broken and healed, hurt and made whole again.

It's a beautiful description of the place where we each come back to over and over and where we welcome others in and show them who we really are.

Someday, I may change the name of this little blog, who knows. But my hope is that it's always a virtual reflection of what a real home is-- the both and the and, a place that welcomes and nourishes, inspires, and fosters community.

And so thanks for being here. You are most welcome. 

blogging: where I'm at

I've been blogging for a while now. I'm approaching my 2-year blogiversary for Gidget Goes Home and have recently hit the three-hundred mark for post count. That's a lot of my opinions, my photographs, my words. Thanks for bearing with it all. :)

I'll be honest. I sometimes still feel a little like an insecure high schooler in the blogosphere.

Comparing myself to others. Their writing, their humor, their creativity.

Their comments.

My bloggy friend Brooke recently posted on this same topic what could have been my own personal thoughts.

I've heard about people closing comments on a post or indefinitely. Sometime it's to avoid an argument on a somewhat-controversial post. Sometimes it's simply to direct traffic elsewhere.

Comments can appear to be such a gauge of popularity, and for me, when I receive a comment it really makes my day. It's a sort of reinforcement that what I'm doing has some value to those on the other side of my computer. {Thank you so much to those of you who have and do comment!!!}

And so, on the other side of the coin, when I don't receive comments, it can be really disheartening. I wonder if anyone is out there. If google analytics is lying when it tells me that people are visiting my blog.

I know I shouldn't worry about all this. And most of the time I have no trouble really finding my identity in Christ, not worrying worrying about popularity or any of that, but sometimes insecurity creeps in.

I remind myself that I'm doing this for myself, in part It's good writing practice, and often therapeutic to write the hard stuff. But I also do it because I love to be able to encourage others. To bring them something yummy or inspiring, to share something I've learned/read/researched, to give pretty glimpses into my life through photos and to be a blessing to them when they're going through something I've dealt with. I love the reciprocal nature of the blog community, how we help each other, encourage each other, spur each other on.

I myself don't comment as much on blogs as I used to. I know there's a time factor there. I want to soak up as much good stuff from the blogosphere in the limited time I have to read. Reading gets prioritized over commenting. But generally, I'm much more of a commenter than some other readers. Probably in part because I have this insecurity that I don't want others to feel.

One of my favorite things about guest posting or writing over on Simple Organic is that I know a conversation will ensue after my post ends. It sometimes takes me a few days, but I love personally responding to comments and seeing how others can add to the discussion or offer their viewpoints or experiences.

This post became much longer than I intended to, but I just wanted to get real. Sometimes I wonder if I should keep going.... and then a real life friend mentions that one of my posts really inspired/touched her, or something happens in life and I can't withold that familiar feeling of oh, I've got to blog about that... :)

The thought has crossed my mind to close comments on this very post. But the truth is, it would really feed my soul to hear from even a couple of you. To know that you're out there reading. I'd love to have a little delurking today and "meet" one of you who's never commented. Or if you want to get deep, share with us one of your insecurities and let's get a little conversation going.

I've really put my heart and soul into this little blog. I love writing it, designing it, and mostly connecting with other bloggers and readers.

Thanks for being here and for reading. <3

xo, nicole