BlogLovin' Love

I hopped on the train with Linky Followers and I've always had BlogLovin, but never really cared for it... however, I've checked it out again recently and like it a TON more! It doesn't have the GFC-like widget, but it's a lot more user-friendly. Basically, I can actually figure out how to easily read blogs I like from BL and add blogs that I like (without worrying about if they use BL).

bloglovin

bloglovin

To celebrate my renewed excitement in Bloglovin, I'm joining the Bloglovin blog hop hosted by The NY Melrose Family, School House Scraps, and Randee's Organized Chaos!

If you're checking out my blog from this blog hop, welcome! Feel free to take the tour and see where everything is and take a look around! And if you follow me and let me know you're following me, I'll be sure to follow you back - that's true of LF, BL, GFC, whatever! : )



New Button + Blog Design Resources



I've been updating the blog design and wanted to make a new blog button to go with the updated design and so now there's the new button above and with the scrolling text box so you can grab the code below. 



But I've gotten quite a few questions after the most recent blog design updates so I thought I'd post a few more resources that I've found and remind you of some oldies, but goodies (the classics)!

The Tutorials & Info
  • This post is the first one I provided about blog design and resources I used to learn to design the blog. 
  • As mentioned in that post, the most important things are Gimp, the free Photoshop-like program you can download here, and tutorials (mostly this tutorial) and freebies from Amanda at KevinandAmanda.com.

Freebies & Digital Art

  • In terms of other clip art and freebies, one of my all-time favorites is Katrina's site, Pugly Pixel. You can pay to be a premium member and get more stuff, but all the free stuff is pretty awesome.
  • A new source I recently discovered is little pink strawberries - lost more cute freebies and downloads here!
  • Design House Digital has tutorials, but also some awesome freebies you can download (I think you just have to create an account) and blog hops with freebies at the blogs of their designers, and clipart and digital kits you can buy for pretty crazy cheap!
  • I'll keep updating my new finds on this Pinterest board here. It has links to most of the resources I've listed here. 
  • I'd been wanting some science-y clip art and wasn't that happy with the freebies and I actually bought some science clip art from Maree Truelove's Etsy store. I absolutely love it, it was a great price, and included a FREE commercial license with purchase! 
  • The Design House Digital designers have awesome blog hops where they share AMAZING kits full of digital papers, brads, ribbons, frames, pretty phrases, and more. For example, you can go to Sara Schmutz's blog here and see her portion of the Fall 2011 kit. From that page, you can see the other portions of the kit from other designers. There have been several kits and hops like this that you can explore. I have a ton of the blog designers' blogs on the Pinterest board for easy reference. 
If you have other questions, post them and I'll do my best to help! I've really enjoyed playing with and tweaking my blog design and hopefully I've learned some things that can help some people! : )

Interchangeable St. Patrick's Day Wreath

I absolutely loved how the Interchangeable Valentine's Day Wreath turned out and I was eager to see how switching the wreath over for the next holiday was... and seriously, it was CRAZY EASY! I'm so excited about all the possibilities for this because I think the St. Paddy's Day one turned out gorgeously!


Here's what I used for this one...

  • Green felt (a variety of greens)
  • White felt
  • Velcro strips
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Thread, embroidery floss, needles, straight pin
  • Scissors
  • Sequins, beads
  • Clover/shamrock template/shape
  • Felt scraps, cotton balls or batting
Basically, I got out my Valentine's Day wreath, untied the red ribbon and then detached the puffy hearts so I had the plain wreath again...


I made the little shamrocks over a period of time... it was nice and relaxing to be able to spend some time doing that while watching TV or taking study breaks or waiting for a stats model to finish running (the exciting life I lead, I know)! I basically printed out some shamrock and clover shapes on cardstock, cut those out, pinned them on felt and cut out the felt shamrocks.


I had fun picking out different colors, sequins, and beads. I sewed the beads as well as the sequins on with regular thread. I used embroidery floss for the outside of the shamrocks (to sew the back and front together) and to make embroidered designs. I had fun playing with the embroidery stuff and looking for inspiration online (not that I have anything really awesome to show you all or help, but it was fun to look)!



I definitely recommend making a few little shamrocks or clovers and trying to vary the size of these guys because it makes them easier to fit together on your wreath... 


It took quite a lot of these, but I already had everything except the green felt on hand, so it cost almost nothing and I had fun making each one a little different! (And to be honest, I did buy a little winder thing to help me wind and organize my embroidery floss... and I bought little plastic bobbins to help that work too... but I'm calling that an organization and storage expense...)


Once I had all the shamrocks laid out, I cut out my felt. I cut it about the same way that I did with the Valentine's Day wreath.


I arranged the clovers and shamrocks onto the two pieces - the longer one and the shorter square one and glued them all down (sorry I didn't think to get pics of this process).

Then, I put velcro on top of the pieces already on the wreath...


Peel off the backing, add some hot glue for good measure, and glue on the felt pieces to the velcro. Then, you just tie a ribbon through there and admire your work!




I'm trying to come up with a way to re-use the ribbons so that next St. Paddy's Day, I can just get the bag of clovers out and the green ribbon and attach it all and hang it up. So I just tied the ribbon around the inside of the wreath in a sort of loose knot and then used straight pins to attach the knot to the back of the wreath...


You just hang up the little loop and voila! Finished wreath and you didn't have to store the old one and you can re-use them for the next holidays!


And when St. Paddy's Day is over, I can just pull of the velcro pieces... you can see how easy it is...


But it holds in place easily and you can't tell unless you're right on top of the wreath and pulling it apart (the boyfriend didn't even realize the Valentine's Day one was interchangeable until I showed him last night and he walks in the door all the time and see this thing)! But here's the proof - as the Valentine wreath and as the St. Paddy's Day wreath...


I'd love it if you made your own (and showed it to me)!


I'm sharing this at my favorite conferences, including this one:





UPDATE: I finally realized that I got the idea for my interchangeable wreath from Haley at Life with Lucy! You can check out her gorgeous peacock attachment here at her blog. I'm sorry I couldn't figure out where I got this idea until now, but you should all check out her awesome blog!

Google+ Help and Thoughts?

I know I had some links to helpful tips and advice about Google+ when it first came out, but now I'm struggling with it a bit more and I'm hoping you all have some ideas and advice, resources and tips... anything!

Basically, I'm trying to figure out how to manage my personal identity and page with a public page for the blog. I first created a page with my regular personal account, but then I can't really make circles or get the fun stuff with that page and basically no one is in any circles and I can't add them to those circles (they just stay in the personal section). But, I can get that nice little badge where you all can add me... I thought this would be the way to go because of the circles feature.... basically, I could add you guys as crafty bloggers and you'd see the blog stuff and then my work people would see the personal page and work info. But that's definitely not working - the personal stuff shows up with the blog stuff (particularly my name - I'd like the blog name to label the blog stuff and my full name to label the personal stuff).

So I figured I'd create a separate page/profile for the blog that used the email address I have set up with the blog and I'm having better luck there, but can't really get the badge to work and all the photos that I have set up with Blogger and Picasa (that deal with the main email address) aren't there. And I can't get badge there because I guess that one's considered a personal page...?

I'm leaning towards just leaving it all alone until I'm not on the job market and not worried about Google results and/or waiting until Google+ develops more and this becomes much easier to do and separate (and more like Facebook, I guess)... but I'm hoping you all might have some great insights!

So, do you guys have any ideas? Tutorials or references you've liked or found useful? Do you all have tips or things you've done to manage this? Am I wanting Google+ to do too much right now? Did you all just pick and do either the personal or the blog? Do you all even use Google+ for blog stuff? I feel like not too many people do... probably because of these issues! But maybe you all have some thoughts and ideas that can help... so let me know what you think!


Linky Followers

As we've already established, I am the kid that would follow the others off the ledge of the cliff for what I imagine are fruit snacks or baby animals at the bottom, and so like all the cool kid bloggers, I'm now on Linky Followers... Google Friend Connect (GFC) is being discontinued and so I think I'm safe from this for at least a little while (since I'm on Blogger and I thought Blogger people were getting to keep this feature the longest... but that might be a rumor), but I figured I'd check this out. So you can now follow my blog using Linky Followers...


 
Click here to follow this blog and view my other followers...


This little widget will stay on my sidebar too so you can find it and see who else follows and all that fun stuff. And, if you follow me using this widget, I can actually follow you back... at least a little bit easier than using GFC (because now I follow the awesome people that were following me when I first joined - thank you SOOO much to those guys, you all are freaking AWESOME)! Check it out and if you guys know of any other alternative options for followers that have cropped up, please let me know! It seems like blog world is changing and it's time to explore the new tools out there!





UPDATE & EDIT: I found out that Cheri at It's So Very Cheri is doing a blog hop for all the bloggers using Linky Followers and I think it's a pretty awesomely exciting idea so I'm joining! You should check out her post here for the full, official rules!

Cabochon Earrings

I have had very VERY little time for crafting recently... the dissertation and then crazy puppy (mis)adventures (everyone is fine or getting there, but it was a little stressful for Mr. Max for a bit) and so I don't really have any incredibly detailed tutorials... so I decided I'd share some little things that I'd made recently here (because everyone needs a quick little project sometimes)! : )

This project started because I had some cabochons leftover from my cabochon + filigree necklace and the microbead pendants (I gave you some resources for where to buy these little guys in this post, though lately Pick Your Plum has had some SPECTACULARLY amazing deals on them!) and I'd seen gorgeous little cabochon earrings popping up everywhere... so I made some of my own!



Basically, you just need to get some E6000 glue or super-glue or some other kind of strong glue, some plain silver earring backs, and cabochons. Just dab some glue on the post, stick on the cabochon, let dry and voila - cute earrings! And the silver earring backs can be purchased from Hobby Lobby or Michael's for super-cheap... I think I got 10 or 20 pairs for $1 or $2!




I'll be sharing these at my favorite parties!

Also, I'm changing the way that I label photos because Picnik is closing and I can't get that Polaroid effect anywhere else (at least not so that it looks the same), so I'm going to label my tutorials like this... 



I've been working on making labels like this for the old tutorials and you should see them start to appear on the Past Research page pretty soon... get excited and hope you all had a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Interchangeable Valentine's Day Wreath


The boyfriend and I are running out of wreath storage space so I decided to make one big yarn-wrapped wreath and then make seasonal, interchangeable little add-ons for various holidays. So, this is the first version - complete for Valentine's Day!


Here's how I made it and what you'll need...

  • Straw wreath form and yarn
  • Felt, felt scraps
  • Regular thread, embroidery thread
  • Sequins, beads, small needles for both
  • Scissors
  • Velcro
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Ribbon (to hang up the wreath)
  • Cotton balls/batting/scraps to stuff your hearts with

First, I wrapped a big straw wreath in this dark heather gray yarn.

Then, I made a bunch of felt hearts. I used red and pink felt and felt scraps with some white. I also used white thread and red and pink embroidery thread. I made them in a variety of sizes and slightly different heart shapes (based on various heart shape stencils I made from cardstock). 

I didn't have a ton of pink felt so I made some hearts two colors - pink on the front and then gray on the back (like the one below) or pink and white, etc. so the pink would show. 


I also made a pretty heart with embroidered letters that say "Kiss Me." I used different embroidery-type stitches to spell this out. 

Here's another view... I think I also used blanket stitches around the outside of the hearts. 

When I finished making a bunch of hearts, I cut some felt to cover the side of the wreath like this... 


Then I glued down my hearts, overlapping them...

Then I hot glued some strips of velcro down where I was going to put the big felt layer on the wreath. (You can also see the variety in the felt hearts - some have little beads sewn on and one has sequins and beads on it too... I had fun just picking out different color combos and details so that they were all a little different.)

I put the other side of the velcro on top of the strips of velcro and then started to peel the backing off of those top pieces so that I could just press the felt strip onto it and everything would line up. 

Stick the felt strip onto the wreath...

And it barely shows unless you look at the wreath from the side. And then you realize you can just take off this layer when you're ready for a change and there's no big wreath to store!

I had a lot of hearts leftover after that first big strip, so I added a little patch of hearts on felt to the left side of the wreath (with more velcro strips). 

I added a red ribbon and hung up my wreath!

Love it! 
I had everything except some of the red felt on hand, but even if I'd had to buy stuff, it would really only be the straw wreath, yarn, some felt scraps, and needle and thread and you could make this easily! (And you could spend a lot less time and still have a pretty awesome end result... I'm just neurotic and thought making the hearts was super-fun...)

I'll be sharing this at some of my favorite parties

Yarn Pom Pom Wreath


I like making wreaths and I figured one of the easiest ways to make some fun stuff for my sister's apartment was to create some wreaths that she could put on her door or inside the apartment. This yarn pom pom wreath was something I saw online (a gorgeous snowflake one here at Decor to Adore and another one here at bleubird) and then figured I could make AND it would be different from the others I'd made her AND somewhat durable. I knew the Duke Wreath might fall apart before it got to her apartment (or at least get damaged) and so I thought this one might be easier to transport. Plus, making the little yarn pom poms kept me from biting my nails (literally - gross and terrible, I know!) during tense football games (not that I started this awhile ago or anything)! : )

This is the finished wreath I made for my sis...

And here's how I made my version...

  • Wreath form (I used the foam insulation trick and covered it with fabric strips and Mod Podge Outdoor)
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Yarn (I used several colors, mostly left over from other yarn wreaths)
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon (to use for hanging your wreath)

I thought the foam insulation as wreath form would make a pretty good durable wreath and so that's what I used. I wrapped the insulation with fabric strips and covered it with Mod Podge Outdoor. You should ignore the Family Guy coasters drying in the middle - those were covered in Mod Podge and drying in an effort to save one of the only decorative things he loves).

While that was happening, I was making the yarn pom poms. Some people seemed to have used some kind of pom pom maker. But I just wrapped the yarn around 2, 3, or 4 fingers (to vary the size of the pom poms), cut that, cut little strings, and threaded the strings through my fingers/perpendicular to the yarn wrapping, tied up that string really tight, and cut the yarn strings in half. It's WAAAAAAAYYYY easier than it sounds and I didn't take pictures because there's a fabulous tutorial that Kristen at Domestifluff created here.

You just glue the pom poms on all around the wreath so the front is covered. I also tied a little ribbon around the wreath form before I covered it completely in pom poms.

Then, I just threaded a piece of ribbon through the little loop that I tied on before I finished gluing the pom poms on the wreath so that I could hang up the finished version.

Then, hang up the wreath and admire your work!

I'll be sharing this at my favorite parties!
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