Woo-hoo! Our updated travel blog is here!

Woo-hoo! Our updated travel blog is here!

After weeks of editing, cropping, categorizing and designing, our updated travel blog is here! So, what do you think? If you’ve been a reader of our blog, you’ll notice it looks a little different. If you’re new here – welcome to Postcard Jar. 

Why the change?

Over the past few months, we noticed that some functions of our blog weren’t working quite right. Nothing major, but there was a hiccup every now and again. Our “theme” was old and couldn’t be updated anymore. We’d also compiled a growing list of things we couldn’t figure out how to do and we didn’t have a logo. But we do now! What do you think? 

Back in 2014 when we started this blog, we enlisted the help of a good friend who does web design to get us started. We did our best to update the posts and pages ourselves. We were amateurs, and we knew it. That was okay because blogging was simply a hobby we started as something to do between doctor appointments and surgeries when Ann had become ill and was unable to work.

Over time however, our blog and interest in it have grown. In addition to traveling more places and having more social media followers than ever before, we now find ourselves entering into partnerships with destinations and attractions who enlist us to tell their stories. We are super excited about the direction it’s going, and knew we were outgrowing our old site. So we decided to hire someone to help. 

Our newly updated travel blog

After a lot of research and a few interviews, we ultimately hired designer and University of Nebraska graduate Kelly Diekmann of KDesign. She went right to work. Over the course of a several weeks, many phone calls, and countless emails, she designed the updated travel blog website you’re looking at now. We have to say, we think she did a great job! She listened to our ideas, got our vision, and put together what we hope is a site that is easy to navigate and fun to read.

 

Take a few minutes to look around. Check out the tabs at the top of the page and explore the different categories. Then, click on the cool icons Kelly created to immerse yourself in subjects like the Caribbean, food and drink, and travel tips.

You’ll see that while our content has stayed the same, we updated the design of just about everything. We really put thought into your experience and tried to create an attractive, easy-to-use website that will give you ideas and inspire you to travel. 

 

We categorized and displayed stories in a way designed to help you get a quick overview. Hopefully, you can easily find something that tickles your fancy. Also updated are our About Us, Contact Us, and Work With Us pages so you can stay in touch.

In addition, the new layout really showcases our Ann’s photographs. With a rare exception of a few photos others have taken of us, Ann took all the photographs on our new site.

Be sure to leave a comment

One change we really like is that the comment section is easier to find at the bottom of each post. That makes it easier for you to let us know what you think. Finally, we added some counters and are now keeping track of interesting facts like how many postcards we’ve received and the number of times we’ve been bitten by sharks (thankfully, that one is still at 0). At the very bottom of the page, you’ll also find our beautiful Instagram feed. Click on any image, and be sure to follow us there, as well.

Most of all, we hope you’ll enjoy your time here. We hope that no matter where you are, Postcard Jar is place you can go to lift your spirits, fuel your dreams, and be inspired to go someplace new. Click HERE to visit our new homepage and check out the rest of the site and again, thanks for following along on our journeys.


So, what do you think of our updated travel blog? Please let us know in the new, easier to find comments section below.

Ann’s visit with The Weary Teacher

Ann’s visit with The Weary Teacher

A couple weeks ago, while helping our daughter, Meghan, get settled at her new place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I met another blogger who is just inspiring! Her name is Haley Curfman and she is a second grade teacher in Blackwell, Oklahoma. You might remember her (or at least her dress) from social media.

This post about the dress her second graders colored with things that make them happy went viral.

This post about the dress her second graders colored with things that make them happy went viral.

I had come across a Facebook post several months ago about Haley wearing a white dress which she had allowed her students to decorate with drawings of things that make them happy. It was such a sweet idea and even though I’m not a teacher, I loved her creativity and wanted to learn more.

Apparently, she had a few rules for her students when they colored her dress. #1 – They had to draw something that made them happy. #2 – They couldn’t cross anything out. #3 – They couldn’t cover up anyone else’s work.

After seeing that adorable post, I checked out her blog, The Weary Teacher, and just loved the creative photos she had staged and posted like the ones below.

The Weary Teacher Haley Curfman. (Photo from The Weary Teacher website)

Photo courtesy of The Weary Teacher.

Thanks in part to the prop gathering/placement and photography skills of her mom, The Weary Teacher has created some of the most hilarious scenes at her desk, including nods to Dr. Seuss, Valentine’s Day, and the Kay County Fair.

I’ve enjoyed following her teaching adventures through her blog and recently realized she lived in Oklahoma right off the highway I was going to use to go back to our home in Nebraska. I sent her a message and it worked out for us to meet and exchange ideas and tips about blogging.

The Weary Teacher blog

The Weary Teacher blog

She told me about her second graders and her love for all things Disney and I shared some of our experiences traveling throughout Oklahoma and our plans to travel to Italy and Greece this summer.

Turns out, we had a quite a bit in common and even brainstormed some ideas about how we might partner on a project or two in the future. One of things I love most about travel (and blogging) is that you get to meet new and interesting people like Haley along the way.

If you have a chance, check out her blog at www.thewearyteacher.com and follow The Weary Teacher on social media. She also has a fantastic new 2018-2019 school calendar for sale HERE with all proceeds going back to teachers.

Haley Curfman is a delightful young woman as well as a fantastic teacher and blogger. I’m so glad we had a chance to meet.

PIN FOR LATER

The Weary Teacher

All about Kristin Chenoweth, page caches, and a Pawhuska post (say that 10 times)

All about Kristin Chenoweth, page caches, and a Pawhuska post (say that 10 times)

Let me just tell you about our weekend. 

After a busy Halloween week filled with college ministry, cooking, trick-or-treaters, doctor’s appointments, and blogging, we finished a loooooooong post about 70+ things to do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, on Thursday, posted it, and headed to Lincoln for a night out with friends and family.

We had a fantastic Italian dinner at Vincenzo’s in Lincoln before walking a few blocks to the Lied Center for Performing Arts to see singer Kristin Chenoweth.

An intimate evening with Kristin Chenoweth

An intimate evening with Kristin Chenoweth

To be honest, I didn’t know much about this Broadway singer and Oklahoma native before that night. But let me tell you, having heard her sing softly with tears in her eyes and then crack a joke and belt out another show tune, I’m a big fan, now.

An Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer, Kristin Chenoweth dazzled the audience with songs like Moon River, Upon This Rock, and For Good, while telling stories and sharing her experiences between each one.

It was a magical night. We got home late but decided to answer a few emails and Facebook messages before going to bed. As we worked, we noticed that our website was not loading correctly and we weren’t able to access the WordPress dashboard that allows us to edit our website.

So, just before midnight, we sat in our home office in our robes, on the phone with our website host company trying to troubleshoot the issue. After several minutes of the most annoying on-hold elevator music EVER, someone came on and asked if we’d had an excessive amount of traffic on our site today.

Still up at 1 a.m. working in our home office.

Still up at 1 a.m. working in our home office.

Just as I was telling the customer service representative that we may have had a bit more traffic than usual, Steve noticed that our post about Pawhuska had been shared on The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Facebook page. Apparently a whole bunch of The Mercantile’s 331,510 followers tried to read our blog post. ALL. AT. THE. SAME. TIME.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Facebook page

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile shared our post on its Facebook page and the response was overwhelming.

And they “liked” it. And they “shared” it. And they “commented” on it. So, apparently, our website host company has something called a query limit (who knew) that was exceeded and to put it in laymen’s terms, crashed our site. 

I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry. In one moment, we were high-fiving each other that The Pioneer Woman Mercantile shared our post, and we were elated that so many people wanted to read, like, and share it. Then, in the next moment, we were on the verge of tears, realizing that few of the people who wanted to could actually see it.

Let’s just say all of this made for a very short night’s sleep. We were back on the phone with tech support early the next morning with calls, emails, and chats continuing throughout the day.

Bottom line: Our little travel blog was having growing pains and we realized we needed to make some changes to keep up.

I won’t bore you with lengthy explanations of words and acronyms like propagation, bare domain, DNS and CNAME or the conversations we had learning about them. Just know that we have a new Nebraska-based website host (thanks, Flywheel), our own virtual private server, and we can accommodate lots more site visitors now. Yay!

If you got an error message over the weekend or noticed latency in our site, we’re sorry for that. Thank you all for your patience and understanding and for sticking with us as we try to figure out the blogging world one tech call at a time. 

Blogiversary 3: What a year!

Blogiversary 3: What a year!

Who’d a thunk it? Three years into this crazy adventure we call travel blogging, we’re having the time of our lives and we can’t thank you enough! Readers like you have inspired us every day with your comments and suggestions, notes about your travel experiences, and of course, your postcards.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sending us postcards from your vacations!

We are so thankful for your interest in our little Postcard Jar and hope you know how grateful we are to be able to write about extraordinary travel for everyday people. This week, as we celebrate our third blogiversary, we thought we’d take a look back at the past year and give you some sneak peeks at where this journey is taking us next.

It was three years ago today when we penned typed out our first blog post from a hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, while visiting the Mayo Clinic. [You can read that first post HERE] We started a blog as a way to take our minds off of the health issues I was facing and share with others one of the things we enjoy most in life — traveling. Shortly after our 2nd Blogiversary last year, we decided to get a little more serious about this whole travel blogging hobby and we attended TBEX North America in Minneapolis, Minn.  TBEX is a conference for travel bloggers and representatives of the travel industry and me just say, all the cool kids were there and they made us feel oh, so welcomed.

The Radisson Blu rolled out the red carpet and this incredible ice bar for TBEX North America.

Not only did we get to experience a fantastic pre-conference tour of Stillwater, we met some of the most interesting people and successful travel bloggers like Maven on the Move,  Lou Mongello, Backpacker Brock, and Vicki Winters.

We also met with lots of destination reps, took in a photography lecture, and learned so much more about all of the social media platforms. And (perhaps most importantly) we got to visit the Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America after hours, with free rides and complimentary Dip-n-Dots and all.

Steve was so excited to be able to play all of the carnival games at Nickelodeon Universe after hours for FREE!

The whole experience just got us more fired up about blogging and we put in as much time on our blog as our schedules and my health allowed this year. We documented our visit to England, our road trip across Nebraska, and all of the great ports from our cruise in the Caribbean, including our favorite island of St. Kitts.

A highlight for us this year was traveling to both Stonehenge (in England) and Carhenge (in Alliance, Neb.) within the span of a month.

Since this time last year, we’ve added 40 new posts and worked hard on beefing up our social media presence. We started hosting a few Facebook live events and it was great to connect with our followers online.

By mid-year, our efforts were really staring to pay off. While on vacation in the Baltic Sea, our daughter Meghan noticed a message on our Twitter account [you can follow us @postcardjar] and quickly emailed us about it. A young, social media savvy reporter from our local CBS affiliate had messaged us to ask if we’d be her guests on the 10/11 morning show called First News Nebraska. Natalie Micale had read about our travel blog in Buy Local Buy Nebraska magazine and wanted to have us on to talk about our travels and our blog!

It was so cool to be on our local CBS station with our actual postcard jar!

We agreed and just after completing a weeklong trip across our home state, we found ourselves waking up at 3 a.m. to get to the TV station by 4:30.

Natalie Micale was just great to us!

We ended up doing four segments on the morning show that day and Natalie posted the videos on her Facebook page so were able to share them with our followers who weren’t quite out of bed with the roosters that morning. We had a blast on the show and that only sparked more conversation about Postcard Jar and got us even more excited to share our love for travel.

Seeing the interest in our segment on Nebraska travel, we decided to focus a little more on local and area destinations throughout the summer. We joined the Crete Chamber of Commerce where we live and signed up to sponsor a photo booth at our town’s annual Great Pumpkin Festival in October.

We grateful for help at our photo booth from friends and family like De’Andre and Meghan (and the Pipers).

A month later, we found ourselves hosting a Chamber Tech Tuesday event where we shared our new-found knowledge of social media marketing with other small business owners. And, to top off our business ventures, we got a Nebraska tax ID and we’re now selling customized postcards!

We were humbled that two of our readers drove down to the Pumpkin Festival to meet us and check out our Crete postcards!

Also last fall, I traveled to the western part of the state for the Nebraska Travel and Tourism Conference where I learned so much more about the wide variety of travel and tourism destinations here. Steve wasn’t able to go because of his school schedule (he’s a middle school principal — God bless him), so I took our daughter Meghan with me. We made lots of good contacts there and I was even interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for a story they were doing about the conference.

Scottsbluff National Monument in western Nebraska,

Upon our return, we were contacted by a nearby community college and asked to teach a class on Nebraska travel. A little hesitant at first, we eventually agreed and were delighted to see “Postcards from Nebraska” offered in the winter non-credit class schedule.

Our very first Postcards from Nebraska class at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Neb.

Steve and I taught our first class to 18 enthusiastic Nebraska travelers in January and it was a blast! We’re hopeful that we’ll teach more classes in the near future and have even talked with the college about leading some day trip tours. We’ll keep you posted.

It has just been incredible to see how our travel blog has grown in the past year and we couldn’t be more grateful for all of the love and support we’ve received from readers like you. You guys are AMAZING and we can’t thank you enough for coming along on this journey with us.

As always, THANKS for sharing!

Postcard what?

Postcard what?

Postcard jar. That’s right. Here’s the story.

A few years ago, I read a home  decorating blog post from Young House Love about saving postcards from places you visit and displaying them in a glass vase. I loved the idea and from that point on in May of 2011, whenever we traveled together we’d send a postcard back home. We’d write a few notes (to ourselves) about what we saw, what we ate, and what we liked most about the place we’d visited.

Ironically, the first postcard we sent home was from Mt. Vernon, the home of our first U.S. President, George Washington. We jotted down highlights from our visit on the postcard, including the view from the rocking chairs on the back porch overlooking the Potomac River and the Maryland shore.

The first postcard we sent home -- From Mt. Vernon.

The first postcard we sent home — From Mt. Vernon.

After we got married, I bought a big jar to display the postcards and in the past three years, we’ve added more than 40 postcards to our jar which adorns a table in the entryway of our home. Our postcard jar is a constant reminder of where we’ve been and the things we’ve experienced together and we couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our blog.

(Photo by Jeff Cloud)