Confession. A Blogging Dilemma – How to be “real” in a world that loves fakes and still make it as a blogger.

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Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

It has been….I don’t know something like 25 years since my last confession.  So here goes.

 

I value my husband.  I do, don’t get me wrong.  But sometimes he is such a brutal critic that he forces me, not only to reflect, but also to severely doubt myself.  I wouldn’t actually call this a negative quality so much as a very important part of his character, that makes me grow, change and evaluate everything in my life.  At the same time he is a big supporter of my blog…..and of ME, lest we forget that for 3 years I’ve essentially been a housewife and stay at home mom!

But now the time has come and I need to make money between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm, not an easy feat in Italy!

He WANTS me to blog and be a blogger, just not at the expense of a day job salary, not at the expense of my household and family responsibilities and not if it means that I’m dragging him around every weekend asking him to take my picture!!

 

At least no wild bears will attack me with this #man close by. He acts like he's not having #fun but you can tell from his #smile that he's a #naturelover !!

At least no wild bears will attack me with this #man close by. He acts like he’s not having #fun but you can tell from his #smile that he’s a #naturelover !!

 

I can’t blame him!  Do you know how annoying it is to go somewhere and as soon as you arrive your wife asks you “can you take my picture for the blog near this tree….don’t forget the shoes…and the bag…oh that didn’t turn out, can we take another?”.  Meanwhile you’re hungry, your three year old has started a tantrum and you already wish you were back in the car heading home!  My next post could easily be called “Blogging – It’s a Kill-Joy!”

Yesterday we went for lunch in #Bolzano #Italy, it was my first time there and I was so impressed with the city's #charming streets and architecture. I wanted to dress like a "lady" so I wore a vintage leather 1940s handbag, my new #PierreDarre leather booties, a full skirt and an oversized lapin shawl. Lately, he and I have been spending our evenings latin dancing (I'm so not kidding!!), he's pretty good and loves it! We pretty much danced through the streets for an hour....so we didn't see much of the city, but we had a great time anyway!!

Yesterday we went for lunch in #Bolzano #Italy, it was my first time there and I was so impressed with the city’s #charming streets and architecture. I wanted to dress like a “lady” so I wore a vintage leather 1940s handbag, my new #PierreDarre leather booties, a full skirt and an oversized lapin shawl. Lately, he and I have been spending our evenings latin dancing (I’m so not kidding!!), he’s pretty good and loves it! We pretty much danced through the streets for an hour….so we didn’t see much of the city, but we had a great time anyway!!

 

This weekend we had a talk about the blog, because I am officially going through a crisis.  Here’s the deal, I’m the most disorganized, random, self-depreciating person that I know.  I don’t actually understand how thousands of people read this blog every month, why they keep coming back and why they even care!  According to my horoscope (because, YES, I’m also one of those people who religiously follows AstrologyZone.com, you can add that to the list of my negative qualities!), last weekend I would “face reality” and I would hear “criticism that hurts my feelings and that may deflate my confidence”!

Well, what do you know? That is exactly what happened!! – Thank you Susan for the head’s up!

 

 

Projection of Perfection

 

You know those Instagram accounts with all of those perfectly posed photographs?  The ones with crossed legs, on crisp white bedding, and a “flatlay” of a mug of coffee beside 4 perfectly placed tangerines, a notebook and a bottle of perfume??

Do you know what I think when I see them?

 

“Who the hell is doing this?  You’re not actually going to drink your coffee and then have a tangerine, that is disgusting!”  It’s a fake scenario, to portray a fake life.  But if marketing has taught me anything, it’s that people would rather see perfection than reality…..and that’s my problem.  I just can’t put in the effort to portray a scene, when I would rather share my high fibre cookies, with my watered down espresso in my kitchen that is NEVER clean, and my socks with the pink and purple checkers that are neither cool nor attractive!  That is reality, but it won’t get me 450 likes!!

 

Well I can mash patatah .... I can mash patatah.... I can do the twist... I can do the twist ... Ooohhh tell me baby... Tell me baby... Do you like it like this? Do you like it this? .... He & I have a busy week ahead, so I'm using this #sundayfunday to prepare while listening to some #oldies . Raise your hand if you iron your kids' clothes.... In #Italy it's standard practice (when are dryers going to catch on here?) #oldschool is #coolschool

Well I can mash patatah …. I can mash patatah…. I can do the twist… I can do the twist … Ooohhh tell me baby… Tell me baby… Do you like it like this? Do you like it this? …. He & I have a busy week ahead, so I’m using this #sundayfunday to prepare while listening to some #oldies . Raise your hand if you iron your kids’ clothes…. In #Italy it’s standard practice (when are dryers going to catch on here?) #oldschool is #coolschool

Making Money

 

I don’t know how many of you realize how bloggers make money.  There are a few different ways.  One way is by earning a percentage of a sale through affiliate marketing.  Basically, if you click on a link on my blog that takes you to a shopping site, and you end up buying something, I *may* earn a commission.  Now….I say *may* because this is easier said than done!  A whole range of conditions must be met in order for this type of commission to be paid out, such as your cookies  (browser history) must show that you’ve NEVER visited that same site within 30 days, so basically the chance of me actually earning the sale are very slim! Now I’ve made money like this….but we’re not talking gold here!

 

Another way is through sponsored posts.  A company pays me to talk about their products or services in an article.  I try to put a lot of effort into these posts so they aren’t boring.  I know my readers WANT me to survive as a blogger, so a part of me feels as though there is no problem in accepting sponsored posts, but on the flip side I feel an enormous responsibility to make sure that post is worth reading.

This is YOUR time and MINE after all.

You came here, to say hello, I should at least make it worth your while.

 

This post is a little random.  I just need to get some things off my chest as I move into 2016 and I am forced with the decision of either “making money” and “making it” as a blogger or continuing to block myself and hold myself back, because deep down I never really got over the days when I was a teenage reject/rebel/semi-punk/non-conformist and the idea of “selling out” still bothers me.

 

 

I would rather be a nerd than be popular.

I would rather go to the thrift store and buy a 2 euro dress, than own ANYTHING by Michael Kors.

I don’t need a brand name in order to love my clothes

and I have always felt more comfortable in the company of outsiders than in the company of the socially accepted.

I am the most socially active, fun-loving loner you will ever meet.

 

It’s Time to Decide

 

This weekend my husband said I should stop blogging about mom fashion and mom/ life issues because no one really cares.  He said, it makes no sense for me to post a visit to luxury car manufacturer on Instagram if the next pictures will be about baking cookies with my son.

 

 

Is that true?

He said I should focus on fashion, but at the same time he hates taking my picture….and I hate asking him to take my picture, combing my hair and smiling….This is a no-win situation!

 

He said I should choose an argument and just stick with it.  Either Fashion or Travel or Life – but not all three! Besides, travel is a selfish act in itself.   I drag my son everywhere and maybe I should just plan fewer trips and activities and clean the washroom more often!

 

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*Sigh*  I once read a caption on a mug in a Museum gift store, it said:

“A Clean House Is The Sign Of An Empty Life”

– consider this my life moto!

 

Let’s Give It a Try

 

I’ve been making a living off of this blog and I think that is scary.  Usually, when I am faced with even mild success I take a step back instead of moving forward.  Some call it the “Imposter Syndrome”, meaning you don’t feel you deserve your accolades. I don’t know if that’s what it is in my case.  I think it’s more of a “Fear of Becoming An Imposter” syndrome.

 I don’t want to sacrifice who I really am in order to make money.

I don’t want to filter to the point where I can no longer recognize myself.

I don’t want to put on lipstick because it makes my lips feel sticky.

Today I have my first gynecologist appointment in almost 4 years in the mountains. #Italy has a public and private healthcare system and this appointment will cost 19 euro with a "ticket" and it took me a few weeks to get (closest available doctor is an hour away)! The private visit would have been over a hundred euro!  I'm going to take a few photos in the mountains today because it is a splendid sunny Tuesday and I'm so excited about snow topped peaks. ...... And I'm going to make an effort to smile more, (even though I hate my smile) because I recently received some good, healthy criticism that I don't do it often enough in my pictures... Even if in real life there is usually one plastered on my face!! So here you go... See how happy I am to go get a #paptest !!! #paptesttuesdays

Today I have my first gynecologist appointment in almost 4 years in the mountains. #Italy has a public and private healthcare system and this appointment will cost 19 euro with a “ticket” and it took me a few weeks to get (closest available doctor is an hour away)! The private visit would have been over a hundred euro!
I’m going to take a few photos in the mountains today because it is a splendid sunny Tuesday and I’m so excited about snow topped peaks. …… And I’m going to make an effort to smile more, (even though I hate my smile) because I recently received some good, healthy criticism that I don’t do it often enough in my pictures… Even if in real life there is usually one plastered on my face!! So here you go… See how happy I am to go get a #paptest !!! #paptesttuesdays

 

I wrote a letter to my long time reader Erin yesterday (by the way Erin, if you’re reading this, there is a little package in the mail for you and I hope it gets to Illinois before Christmas…but considering the Italian postal service I’m not going to hold my breath….but it’s out there!!!).

Erin is like my blogging Karma buddy whether she realizes it or not.   She represents a symbol of who I am speaking to when I write.  She loves Italy and European culture and she’s interested in what daily life here is like.  She dresses well and loves beautiful things but isn’t rich and she’s not afraid to admit it.  She’s a mom, but her whole life doesn’t revolve around “being a mom”, and she doesn’t blog but reads blogs because she’s interested.

She found me…. just like Ginette, Mary, Carrie, Vona, Rodrigo, Lisa, Annmarie, Silvia, Angele …..and all of the other people who have connected with me and reached out to encourage me and share their own story.

 

As I was saying…I wrote a letter to Erin, it was almost an apology because I don’t know what 2016 will hold.  I want to launch my own brand of accessories, I want to earn a living as a blogger and get back into creating a lot of community and I want to “make it” – but I just don’t want to be fake….and I’m still not sure how I’m going to do this.

 

If you notice changes happening, don’t hesitate to call me out on them, I can seriously handle the criticism!!

Actually, thank you for caring!

And cheers to confessions, they feel really, really good!

 

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  • Jeanie Beck

    Angie, let me first say that I absolutely love your blog! Your are one of the many bloggers who have helped me prepare for my upcoming move to Italy. Please do not doubt the impact of your blog. I have to kindly and respectfully disagree with your husband that no one cares about “mom fashion and mom/life issues”. It is wonderful to know I’m not the only Mom out there with “mom/life issues”. Keep up the great work!

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    • Jeanie thank you so much for this comment. And I totally welcome the fact that you disagree with my husband…..so do I! I mean, he’s technically not my audience, so I can understand why *he* wouldn’t really care about what I write about, but someone out there might…case in point, thank you again!

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  • Keep going! I love reading the realness of your life! The time pressure is one of the big aspects (or rather negatives of blogging) is the amount of time. That’s partially why I stopped blogging I have little will power and found myself ignoring my daughter. Maybe find a local friend to take pictures for you?

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    • My life is real alright! Nothing this unorganized could possibly be staged! I think I just need to merge the idea that just because I want to be true to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put in effort to create something slightly more beautiful. Remember the graphic you used for your recipe posts and the “My Roman Kitchen” image. that was SO BEAUTIFUL and a huge inspiration. What I’m trying to say is, can you help me!! HA! I wish I could hire you as my personal “pretty-fy-ing consultant”, what do you charge?

      and YES, I should ask a friend, or hire a photographer (or model), or buy a tripod and timer like everyone else and just remove him completely from the tediousness of “mi potresti fare le foto per il blog”, he literally doubles over in disgust every time I say the words! And then people wonder why I never smile in my pictures!!! BTW…. YES, ignoring children is a huge issue when blogging, which is why I used to do it early in the morning, but the bags under my eyes were no joke. How do stay at home moms with 6 kids blog?

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  • I personally love reading about real life – I love looking at instagram pictures but hate stopping to take them. I have tried taking those ultra style photos but honestly they are so hard to get right that I give up. I can’t post to everywhere daily. Well I can but it isn’t quality… As for the blog photos I can tell you my trick. I take them myself. I bought a tripod and a remote and it is the best investment I made. I don’t have any photographer friends and 99% of the pictures my husband takes of me are crap. But I have gotten pretty decent of taking my own pictures and it makes everything easier. You can just pop off by yourself for a 10 minutes and get it done. Personally I have been struggling of whether I need to rebrand. But I don’t want to start all over so I still haven’t bit the bullet. #bloggerissues

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    • Jane let’s chat about this, you are thinking about “rebranding”? I love your blog. Isn’t it strange that we are personal brands and that the issue of rebranding exists and is real. Would you ever consider deleting old content? I may have to and it makes me sad and worried. Or maybe I’ll make a new category called “wasteland” and just file everything there!!!

      In other news thank you for the tripod suggestion, that is exactly what I’m going to try in 2015…I better buy a bigger purse!

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      • I toy with changing the name as I haven’t lived in downtown Toronto in a year and haven’t done any store reviews in even longer. My older content is all really Toronto specific and I can’t keep it up to date. But I am leaning towards just merging the blog and the old website content into one site and keeping the name. I flip flop all the time! I would keep the high traffic pages and ditch some of the old out of date stuff. I also toy with adding in Home decor (especially since we are finishing our basement) but my house is ALWAYS a disaster!

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  • Sending positive vibes your way! Go with what works for you! I don’t think anyone who reads your blog thinks you’ll become a sell-out, you’re too original, to true to yourself. I also really do hope that you launch your own brand of accessories, I can’t wait to check it out!

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  • This is a really hard part of the blog world. I don’t envy the decision you have to make. Most often for me, I am more likely to read your posts that talk about your life as an expat…or your shopping spree on shoes than I am about traveling…although I have enjoyed a few of them! I say pick what you want to BLOG about for whatever reason… if the blog is what makes you happy to turn into a job, then full steam ahead. If it’s not then maybe you should step back and downsize to only posts about the awesome thrift store finds and fun family trips that make you happy while spending more energy on branding a line of accessories or getting a part time gig somewhere…
    Use your instagram to advertise your blog posts…. But don’t ever feel weird about throwing in the random photo of snuggling your sick boy or sharing the joyful moment of making cookies right after your post of a luxury car. Sure people might get drawn in by the “perfect moment”, but I stick around and secretly think of you as my “Italian fashion blogger friend” because of the real life moments that you share. And the conversation we have during those photos…that make me think later “oh I want to share this moment with Angie because she would appreciate this! (my lipstick photo)”. Those are what connect me to you as a fellow MOM that yes is living a life I will only ever dream of…but she is a real mom that irons kids clothes like me (and how fascinating to learn there are no dryers over there!) I guess I’m saying instagram should be a tool for your blog but should also be a real life outlet and way to connect.

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  • I love all the variety in your blog! You have a phenomenal blog here and you have to keep going!! I drag my little guy all over too, don’t feel bad. You do what you have to and seeing that makes your blog more real. I got a tripod that attaches to my stroller so I can take pictures of me if I am A) too embarrassed to ask a family member or my hubby. B.) The stroller is always with me everywhere so why not utilize it. And I can use my galaxy s6 for pictures because the phone is lighter.;-) and I got a remote
    Your blog is an extension of personality. 🙂
    My kitchen and house are always a mess too. My flat lays are a symbol of what I wish was, organized.

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  • I love your blog and I think that the way you post is perfect, I don’t want to read the fake posts that are out there and I don’t do my blog that way either. I don’t put outfits on just to take photos and then put on my “real” clothes, what you see is what I am really wearing. for good or bad. I think you are a lifestyle blogger and I love hearing about all aspects of your life, not just the fashion parts! I hope you continue to blog 🙂

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  • Erin

    Angie, you are the sweetest! (I may have teared up a little when I read this post) As a reader I will always be interested in anything you post via blog, Instagram, etc. because I love to hear about your daily life AND all the exciting trips that you get to take with your lovely little family. But the most important thing is that you have a work/life balance. You need to to what feels right to you and follow your heart and your passion. Your zest for life and excitement about learning and sharing about Italy is very evident in everything you write and do. But I especially love when you share about your family and making it all work, that’s why I relate to you so much. It’s nice to know my glamorous Italian friend has so much in common with a boring Midwestern mom like me. You are a very hard worker and I am sure that anything you do will be wildly successful and lots of fun! Can’t wait to see where 2016 takes you!!

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    • I really hope your package arrives soon, and I wish I had bought a nicer card with more room to write…..you’ll see what I mean when you get it.

      And as always….thank you for your incredibly moving comment and your encouragement. 2016 I am going to dedicate and make this happen. It is your job to call me out if I ever post a picture of my crossed legs on perfectly white bedding with tangerines next to coffee mugs!

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  • Kendra Ramick

    Angie, I love your blog! I found it after a trip to Italy when I was spending days at my desk, wishing I was back in Tuscany basking in the sun. I love learning about daily Italian life and the differences in the culture there vs Canada, or even here in the States. I would never criticize changes you make in order to be more true to yourself and achieve a work/life balance. It is something we all strive for every day, and you shouldn’t be an exception to that!

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    • Well….nice to meet you Kendra! and thank you for this comment, it was so wonderful to read. Tuscany is beautiful but if it makes you feel any better they have wild boar issues! You are so right the work/life balance is NOT easy to obtain and I just need to find the right mix of living/sharing life while a) not dying of hunger and b) making sure my child doesn’t either!

      Btw feel free to chime in anytime on any social networks, I’m putting you in the inner circle!

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  • Porcelina

    Angela, whatever you decide to do, I hope that it brings you the utmost contentment and fulfillment. I adore your blog, and really appreciate how it’s ‘real’ and makes me feel like I know you personally. No flat lays!! I hope you can find some kind of resolution. Is your son too young to start learning photography??! Lots of love from Wales xx

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  • I love your blog and the variety of topics your write about and I love that you keep it real! Don’t stop! I hope you are able to launch your accessories brand and I can’t wait to see them!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

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    • Thank you so much Jill!! I think the hardest thing about blogging is knowing your worth as a blogger and “selling yourself”. It is tiring trying to convince sponsors and partners etc. that your time, energy, photos, thoughts, text and social media network is valid…especially in Italy where this whole category is very new. I think I just need to be persistent now that I actually have a few hours free everyday…and hey, if I fail I can always teach English!!!

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  • Tracy Miller

    Angie, I love the many topics you cover. I have pared down the blogs I follow and yours is on my very short list.You are so authentic and real and your writing is very good. Your stories reel me in. Whatever you decide to do, I will be along with you for the ride.

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    • well….if that isn’t one of the best compliments I’ve ever received I’m not sure what is! Thank you so much Tracy for your support and friendship. In 2016 I plan on either “going big or going home”, let’s just hope there are enough hours in the day!! I don’t know how you stay on top of everything, but from the outside looking in, you are always on the ball (let me in on your secret!!).

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  • Rick Zullo

    Great, honest post, Angie. I love reading your “normal” blog posts, but this one really hit home with me, too. All bloggers suffer with the same doubts. Blogging is still sort of uncharted territory, so it feels a bit unsafe to pursue it. Then again, working for someone else is equally unsafe when you put your livelihood solely in their hands.

    I do agree with your husband on one point, however. It’s a good idea to define your niche. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t include photos from your daily life which show off your personality in ways that go beyond fashion. But your blog is called “Reasons to Dress,” so I think you should stay centered on that, while still having fun and being yourself in other ways.

    Anyway, if you ever want to brainstorm about blogging or life in Italy or whatever, you have my Skype handle!

    Ciao!

    Rick

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    • Rick!!! thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post, this means SO MUCH to me coming from you, because I consider you somewhat of a blogging idol! Blogging is unchartered territory and I’m so thankful that my husband hasn’t left me yet….actually, I don’t know how he manages to not completely tune me out.

      2016 I will transform the blog into more of a “lifestyle travel + fashion” magazine, along with another side project. The personal posts will be a little more focused and I plan on moving away from my parenting posts to give my son more privacy, which I also think he deserves.

      And if you’re up for a skype chat….I’m game, I would love to catch up! btw send me your address!!!

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  • Michelle Tyler

    You are one fabulous lady!
    Let me just start by saying I “grew out” of reading horoscopes decades ago but clicked on your link to the website all the same. When I read mine I almost cried. It was exactly what I wanted to read, it was bang on correct thus far & the prediction was %100 where I wish to be next year!
    Damn you woman – now I’m hooked again!
    To my comment on your post….I think your husband is right. I think it’s a good idea to focus on one area (not necessarily all the time) & concentrate your efforts where you find it most works. If that’s fashion then you need to get a remote control (like I do) & do it yourself. You don’t need someone else to take your photo’s, you are more than capable of doing a terrific job.
    Your travel posts are amazing so perhaps you can combine travel with fashion & keep it simple, consolidate?
    As for being authentic – you always will be I have no doubt. There’s a fine line between beauty & reality, it can be done in an authentic way. I perceive a lot of young bloggers as disingenuous purely to gain the trust of their followers & that really winds me up. However as far as the visual content goes I appreciate a beautifully styled photo – Am I missing your point by saying this?
    Must be the Libran me! Hahaha.
    Listen Angie, as a “stay at home” Mum we ALL have these times of guilt & mini crisis. It will probably only stop when our babies move out, that’s the meaning of Mummy. I wish you well in your decision making journey, I believe in you xxx

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    • THIS WAS GREAT ADVICE! And is exactly where I plan on going with the blog in 2016. I’m going to reinvent myself slightly and move forward with the two arguments that I’m most passionate about travel and fashion with a no holds barre kind of attitude. And if you would like to collaborate.. I WOULD LOVE to do something with you, as your blog has been a huge inspiration for me lately.

      BTW I’m so glad that your horoscope gave you what you needed to hear. I *try* not to let it influence my decisions too much, but she is always so bang on that I find it hard to ignore. Some people have gifts no? So what’s wrong in thinking Susan Miller doesn’t have one!!!?

      And… as for “beautifully style content”, that is exactly how I have to think of it. My prerogative has been to show reality, but showing beauty is just as valid. I shouldn’t “poo poo” styled photos because they are another form of visual expression, that even though is staged, isn’t necessarily wrong.

      And you’re also right about guilt tripping and being a stay at home mom. Blogging is work. Mothering is work. Doing both is a lot of work!! Every woman, and every family has to find the balance that is right for them, the guilt trips are a waste of time!

      btw. I heart you!

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      • Michelle Tyler

        I heart you dear Angie!
        Of course it is good advice but it is everything you already knew. How does the saying go? “We only ask for advice when we already know the answer”….
        I would be delighted to team up with you, lets plan something after Christmas.
        xxx

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  • Hey Angie! What a fabulous post! I have to second what Jeanie said because I care about mom fashion and mom issues (and also travel!). Being a new mom is hard and because I stay at home right now I never feel like I have a reason to dress (hence never sending a photo to you even though you’ve asked multiple times- my pjs just aren’t cute!). But reading your blog inspires me to get out there and get dressed! So, the power of clothes – especially for a new mom like me – is actually really surprising, as I’ve never been that into fashion. I even just bought a new pair of jeans that actually fit my postpartum body! So, what I’m trying to say is even if you have to blog fewer times a week please still blog!

    Also, you know that I’d 100% go shopping your new accessories brand!

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    • When you are ready I know that you’ll send me a photo….besides I know how many things you are juggling at once because I am in the same boat. A blog is something that takes up a lot of space and time, never mind a new baby and traveling. I predict our friendship will be a long one…so there is no rush! I still need to email you about your traveling parent forum, I haven’t had much time to dedicate to it lately but as soon as I can I’ll be back.

      AND I’m SO PROUD of you for buying new JEANS!!! When we look good we feel good, and we have to remember to take care of ourselves. We are women and we deserve to treat ourselves as such!

      I’m going to keep blogging in 2016…I’m just changing up strategies a bit and focusing on what I need to do to really get this thing off the ground and make it worth my while. I’m not going to call it “selling out”….I suppose I’ll just call it “buying in”!!!

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      • Thank you! If you do get a chance I would LOVE for you to send me a blurb for the Traveling Parents’ Forum. December’s will go live on the 21 and is about flying with a baby. Any of the months that you can write something is great! You are always welcome 🙂

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  • C.K. @ 50 Days of No Grey

    Your blog is the only one I follow that is based in Europe. It is fun hearing about your life in Italy with your family and all the fantastic places you visit. It is so great that you show all parts of your life and I think you CAN blog about everything. I think moms care and are interested. I know I am! Keep it up!!

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