Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blog layout in the works

Now that I've had my blog for a little over 2 months, and have 9 lovely followers (yay!), I think it's time I start working on making myself a blog layout. Make my blog a little more personal. I knew I wanted to design my own layout from day 1, but I wasn't sure how to proceed.

I've since found a few resources, one of my favorites being Making Cute Blogs. They've got tutorials, resources, designers, tips.

I quickly learned that I would have to find my blog layout elements. Those graphics, fonts, etc used to make the graphics for the layout. The blogs that I like the most usually use digital scrapbooking kits as elements, so I had been looking around for that. I found one site that I really liked the kits, Shabby Princess, and they were FREE! But the catch was that you can't use them for blog layouts if you're blog has anything commercial about it. Though my blog, I believe, would be ok, I don't plan on starting an Etsy shop, using affiliates, or basically making any money from my blog, I have still been iffy about using those kits.

There was also Just So Scrappy that I LOVED the kits. But they weren't free. I've been looking here and there for free kits I like but can't seem to find any. So when Just So Scrappy announced their Black Friday Sale, I knew I'd be getting my elements this weekend. For a long time I wanted the Happy Day kit, but then I really started looking at all the kits and what the elements in the kits were, and I thought Tweet Tweet would be much more usable. More elements that I would see myself using: cute little birds, bird houses, leaves, flowers, butterflies, ribbons, clouds, sun, picket fence!, grass. Not to mention 42 backgrounds.



So I bought it. For the low price of 0.75$! Regular 3.99$, but they've been at 1.50$ for as long as I've been looking at them. So I saved 50% really. With that saving, I decided to buy the extra alphas for 0.75$ as well (regular 1.00$). So I paid the same price for the kit AND the extra alphas that I would've normally paid for just the kit. I'm happy with that. Especially when that price is 1.50$ (a little more for me because of the exchange rate).



Now I must put my creative cap on to make my blog header, a button, social media buttons, a Facebook page, sidebar links, a signature, and maybe a footer. Anything I'm missing?

Other layout news. I've discovered FeedBurner, so I now have an RSS button on my sidebar, as well as an email subscription option. Things are coming along slowly, but I'm new to the blogging world; I jumped right into having my own blog after only a couple of weeks reading crafts blogs. I'm really learning as I go.

If you have ANY tips for me, resources, good blogs with tips, I would greatly appreciate them! About blogging, about making my own layout, about content, really anything that could help a new blogger.

Finally, I might be absent from my blog for a few of weeks. Got 2 exams coming up, and a grant proposal to write for one of my classes, so I should really be focusing on that. But I am a huge procrastinator so I might end up posting anyway. I'm having so much fun with my blog, and zero fun with my classes haha!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Puzzle Advent Calendar

I love Christmas. Really, it's my favorite holiday. And not for the presents. One of the things I look forward to every year is the countdown to Christmas- the advent calendar.

As I kept growing up, I felt like I was growing out of the traditional chocolate advent calendar. Ok, I'm lying, I still get my chocolate advent calendar. But, I wanted some other way to countdown to Christmas. So I put my thinking cap on, and this is what I came up with. I call it, the Puzzle Advent Calendar. I made it 2 years ago, but since my blog is new, I'm only sharing it now.



The idea is that every day...



...you get to turn over a piece of the puzzle.





Then as you turn over more and more pieces every day...



... you get to see the big picture, and build the puzzle!



I wanted a way to move the pieces around to be able to do the puzzle. So each piece is in it's own little pocket. There are 24 pockets, with vinyl on the front to be able to see inside.



And each has some velcro on the back.



Naturally, there is velcro on the frame too.





Speaking of the frame, or the base of the calendar. It's like a picture frame, only instead of being made of wood, it's entirely made of fabric! There's 3 layers. The outer layer is wider and made of this suede-like fabric that is also quilted, which gives the frame this great texture. The 2nd layer is made with stripped fabric. I just fell in love with this fabric when I saw it, it was more expensive than I was hoping to spend (13$/meter), but it's my "piece de résistance" fabric. The other fabric I got were all 4 or 5$/m. And the inner layer, the thinnest one, is just light green to tie it all together. I love the look!



So once Christmas has come, all the pieces are revealed, and the puzzle is complete! And you get a pretty picture to look at until you decide to take it down. I'm gonna spoil the picture and show you how it looks like all done. These are the pieces I used the first time, 2 years ago.









As soon as I came up with this idea, I knew I would be making some for my friends. So I made 4 extra ones (up to date, they take a LONG time to make!). Every year, I print the new pieces and send them to my friends with a Christmas card. I don't get the surprise of unveiling the pieces every year since I make them, but at least they do! I use a wallpaper with a scene or an image I like. I made the calendar so it would fit the normal wallpaper size.

So that's my advent calendar! I hope you liked it. Can you believe that was my first sewing project? I had a LOT of help from my grand-ma, I really couldn't have done it without her. And lining up those stripped corners so they align perfectly was not an easy task, but I love the outcome.

Oh yeah, and even though I'm 24, I still get a chocolate advent calendar from my mom. (Thanks mom!) She got one for my bf too!





I`d love to know what you think! Would you like a tutorial to know how to make it yourself? Is it too complicated? Do you think your kids would have fun with this advent calendar?

Thanks for reading!

Visit thecsiproject.com

Also linked up with:
Tip Junkie handmade projectsHookingupwithHoHPhotobucket
Advent Calendar Link Party @ Nap Time CreationsTodays Creative BlogLink PartyThe Girl Creativethecreativepaige.com


Friday, November 18, 2011

Sunburst Mirror

I'm finally done my Sunburst Mirror, and couldn't be happier! I wanted to be done for the Pinterest Challenge Fall Edition, but that was a couple of weeks ago now...

I got the idea from Aimee at Wonderfully Domestic. Apparently, this was in fashion a couple of years ago, but it always takes me time to warm up to an idea or style anyway. I'd also seen in stores some sunburst mirrors made with metal which had some clear gem stones, and I wanted to incorporate that as well.

So this is what I came up with in the end:


I really like the added effect of the clear stones. I didn't even take a picture before I added them.

I won't be writing a tutorial for this one, you can check out the link above if you need directions, but I think it's pretty straightforward. Here's the materials/cost breakdown, since I do love cheap decorating!:
~ round mirror 5" - Micheals, 3.50$
~ skewers - Dollorama, 1$
~ clear stones - dollar store, 1$
~ paint, left over from my Halloween Cupcake Liner Topiaries pots; so let's say nada (I used about half the bottle)
Total: 5.50$, gotta LOVE cheap DIY projects!

The reason it took me so long was because I had to paint with a paintbrush all the sticks (roughly 150 of them), and 3 coats at that. The gold I used really didn't cover well, but I expected as much. And I could only do about 20 at a time since my drying station (which has a styrofoam container that some meat we bought came in) could only support as many.





The clear stones I found were a little oddly shapped. More oblong than what I was looking for, and they had a V shaped and not flat underside, which made them tricky to hot glue on the sticks. Actually, some fell off and I had to reglue. I made sure to play with them a little and see if they would eventually fall off, and that's how I had to reglue 7 of them.

I didn't put quite as much glue as the tutorial, since it seemed like they were stuck enough, but I might go back and add some more.







All in all, I'm very please at how it turned out. I'm not 100% sure where I'm putting it yet... Right now it's on the small wall of my hallway, and I can see it looking behind me as I'm sitting at my computer. The light I have beside me reflects very nicely on the clear gems, and they sorta glow and pop when everything else around is dark. I really like that, so it might stay there. I tried taking a picture but it really didn't come out how I see it.

That's all for tonight folks! This must be my shortest post yet.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

EDIT: After a couple weeks up, it finally fell to the ground :( I used a saw-tooth painting hanger (I'm not sure I'm being clear, dunno what to call them) and it just unpeeled itself from the hot-glue. BUT the mirror is not broken! Yay! will have to reglue it, and this time I will put some hot-glue on TOP of the already glued down hook, and that should hold. I'm really not worried about the individual skewers falling though, so not gonna add more glue there.

Linked up with (clicking will take you directly to the party):

sew many waysTip Junkie handmade projectsPhotobucketHookingupwithHoHthecreativepaige.comLink PartyOne Artsy MamaTodays Creative BlogThe Girl Creative



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