Friday, August 31, 2012

Stenciled Curtains

So a couple of months ago, when stenciling was first getting really popular, I saw a stencil in a Wal-Mart that I thought was really cute. And since I didn't have a specific project in mind & I wasn't willing to pay tons on a stencil, a $2 stencil from Wally World was a happy purchase. 

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Steph from Crafting in the Rain had me lined up to participate in her Make a Splash series, where she gives some crafters one crafty tool and has them create something with it. It just so happened that my crafty tool was stencils! I was stoked. And since I had some plain, boring white curtains hanging up in my room, I knew just what to do with them!






I am now a HUGE fan of stenciling! It just makes things prettier :)

Here are the supplies I started with, minus the curtains:





I didn't use anything to keep the stecil attached to the fabric. Once I started sponging it on, the stencil just kind of naturally stayed in place. It took all of nap time one day, but I think it was well worth it. 

Here it is mid-project. 


And the end result = LOVELY!!!


Sharing here: 30 Handmade Days, One Artsy Mama, See Vanessa Craft, Nap Time Crafters, Tatertots & Jello, Family Ever After, Adorned from Above, The Creative Orchard, Love & Laundry, Krafty Kat, The Winthrop Chronicles, Reasons to Skip the Housework,            



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tips from the Best: The Crafty Scientist

The Crafty Scientist is another one of those blogs that I stumbled upon & loved it from first sight. I know Mel acted surprised when I asked her to be part of this series but she has to know what an awesome blog she has!! I'm super excited about her post, so read up!!
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I'm SOOOO thrilled that Kathryn invited me to be a part of this awesome little series here at Destination: Craft! This is a RIDICULOUSLY talented group of ladies and I'm flattered to be a part of it!
I'm Mel (that's me above) and I blog over at The Crafty Scientist.
I love sharing my DIY and craft projects (which I'll have even more of now that I'm getting settled into a new home in Maryland) there as well as some photos from my travels and of my super-cute puppies - Max the black lab + cocker spaniel (on the left above) and Bella the pug + chihuahua + yorkie (on the right above). 


I'm not going to lie, I was a little worried Kathryn would realize that I'm the Mel who authors The Crafty Scientist and then take back her invite... but Kathryn has stayed true to her word and is letting me offer you guys some advice. Because while I might not have the best blog in the world, I have certainly made lots of mistakes so I can help you all learn from those. So that's what I've titled my post here today - "My Favorite Mistakes." (And it's not just because I like Sheryl Crow. I actually think some of my biggest mistakes have helped me learn some important lessons so hopefully you can learn from those too... without the unpleasant learning curve.)

So without further ado, I present to you my top 5 favorite blogging mistakes and how to do better than yours truly!

Mistake #1: Not spending much time on project photos or graphic design
This is mistake numero uno for a reason. This is SOOOOOO important and can make such a HUGE difference between an okay blog and a great blog. Learn GIMP or PicMonkey or both or something like that and create a fun, unique blog design, button, social media icons, etc. You don't have to make it perfect or super-difficult. Just a few little touches to make it "you" and make your content easy to read and the important information easy to locate. If you've made it through this far in the blog post, you might have even decided to read all this content because you liked the graphic design, "sticker" labels of my mistakes and then you decided to read on (I'm betting that happened to at least a couple people.... or really hoping y'all prove my point)!

And the photos... those are super-important. Those help people re-create your projects - even when I see projects I really like, if there aren't instructions or I can't follow them, I don't particularly want to pin them or save them because they aren't a lot of use. When I look back at my early days of projects, I'm totally embarrassed not because my taste has changed or I dislike the projects, but because the pictures are dark and out of focus and terrible. Blogging has helped me become MUCH better at taking pictures and editing them... just look at these...
Jute project from February 2011 and the Paint Chip Rubik's Cube from September 2011

You can see just taking the box outside to get some better light really helped and by that point I'd learned to watermark my photos and get a better, cleaner background. Full confession: I had gotten a new camera in between, but I know that's not the only difference. For more advice and guidance on this stuff, I wrote a post about blog design here with tons of links to resources and I keep a Pinterest board of links I find useful for learning about photo editing and blog design. If I can learn enough to make what you see on my blog, I promise anyone can learn!

Mistake 2: Saying "no" to opportunities to guest blog and participate in blog events
Someone once told me that I should be afraid to say "yes" to opportunities. Even if I wasn't sure what I'd do or how to do it, I could figure it out and should just ask questions. But that if I don't volunteer until I have it all planned out, I'll miss out on a lot of opportunities - many of which I wouldn't even realize I missed because you never know where saying yes could take you. And while I try to stick to this in my professional life, I think it's also important in my blogging life. I'm not saying take on every advertiser and at some point, it is VERY important to say no to things that aren't true to you and what you want your blog to be about. However, when you're getting started, don't be afraid to say you'll guest post even though you aren't sure what kind of project you'll share. And say yes to blog events that are being lined up because you'll get to meet some crazy awesome bloggers and discover lots of new ideas!

However, no matter how many guest posts you do and blog events you take part in, I'm pretty sure you can always increase the number of people that see your work and projects by linking them up to linky parties. And that brings me to the next mistake...

Mistake #3: Ignoring linky parties & link ups
Don't skip the linky parties! They seriously get you tons and tons and TONS of traffic and new readers. And that's just what happens from linking up... you could also get featured which could lead to TWO TONS of traffic and new readers/followers/commenters.

I know there are lots of bloggers out there that have lots of rules about the parties - commenting on two blogs, linking up to their specific blog post in your specific post, etc. - and if that makes you uncomfortable, look for some of the "anything goes" type parties at first. I think as long as you make a good faith effort to do what the blogger asks, you won't have any problems. Leave a few comments and you're golden!

Mistake #4: Being afraid of talking to the "big" bloggers you admire
Don't be afraid of the "big" or "famous" bloggers that you really admire! I was so afraid to comment on some of their blogs because I just thought they were so famous and got so many comments that mind wouldn't matter. Turns out that's not true and most really appreciate it! A lot will email you back/reply to your comment to say thank you and that's such a fun part of blogging! You never know who will write you back!

Mistake #5: Ignoring the advice of bloggers who have been there
If you're reading this and made it this far, you probably don't need to worry so much about this, but I still want to point you towards some other amazing tutorials and series of advice and ideas for improving your own blogs that I love and wish I had discovered earlier in my blogging. For example, there's "Blog Better" from Shrimp Salad Circus, Blogging Advice from Shannon at Madigan Made, Blogging Resources from Crafterminds, this series on Blog Growth from C.R.A.F.T.

There are also some popular tutorials that are popular for a reason. I can't over-emphasize the importance of making sure you're not a no-reply Blogger (so you can get people to email you back and respond to your comments and have a fun dialogue - this is important even if you have already fixed this problem... read more here), get rid of Captcha on your comments section (seriously, I cannot get those things right and I really do skip over commenting because of that... it's just awful), One post that really covers this and I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out (if you haven't already) is this "4 Mistakes Bloggers Make" from Crafterminds. This is some advice you might not have seen, but if everyone followed these rules, blogland would be much happier! Other highlights include this 10 tips to improve your blogging from Making Lemonade, and 10 tips from Always in Wonder.


So there you go - my 5 top 5 mistakes and what I've learned from them and how you can do better. Hope this helps you in your blogging and if you have any questions, feel free to ask away and I'll do my best to help! Don't forget to visit me over at The Crafty Scientist and a HUGE thanks to Kathryn for having me over!
 




Monday, August 27, 2012

Destination: Cutesy Monday (#29)

Hello again friends! 

This weekend we had my husband's grandparents come in to babysit so we could go to orientation for school...but not for our kids. For my HUBBY! He's going back to school to get his MBA at Wake Forest University. I'll basically never see him for the next 2 years :(



I just have to keep telling myself it's all going to be worth it!

Soooo....to cheer me up, can I pretty please see all the projects you've been working on?! Thanks so much!!




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Texas Door Update

While we were in Texas, my in-laws needed their back door painted. I volunteered because I knew this was something that would be hard for them to fit into their schedule but easy for me to do while the kids were sleeping.

They started painting it a Texas Rangers blue but my father-in-law decided he didn't like it. 


Off we went to Lowe's to get some new paint. My father-in-law picked out what he thought was a good yellow. But after I primed & painted .... he wasn't so thrilled. I wasn't sold until I put their Texas flag on it, then I thought it was super cute! 






What do you think? Love it or hate it?


Sharing here: One Artsy Mama, Nap Time Crafters, See Vanessa Craft, Tatertots & Jello, Six Sisters' Stuff,      



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tips from the Best: Rae Gun Ramblings

Welcome to the second installment of Tips from the Best: How to Grow Your Blog!!

Today the lovely Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings is going to tell us how connecting with other bloggers is ESSENTIAL. You know, I don't know how I started following Marissa's blog but I am SO glad I found it. You know those blogs you just love to check all the time?? Hers is one of them for me! I'm so excited to have her here!!
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Grow Your Blog By Connecting with Other Bloggers


 When I Crashed The Snap Mingler

I'm Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings. I blog about all things crafty, tasty, pretty and just plain life. I am a devourer of books, my favorite being young adult fiction like Harry Potter and Hunger Games. I am married to a super talented musician and I spend my days sewing handmade baby and toddler clothing for my Rae Gun Etsy shop.  I would love you to stop by my blog and shop and say hi and also share some of your own at my What We Wore, Read, and Made Wednesdays Link party.

I am thrilled and honored that Kathryn invited me to be a part of this cool series. I've been blogging for a while but since most of that time I was juggling my own business and graduate school at the same time I didn't really focus on growing my blog. It wasn't until recently that I really decided think more in those terms. There have already been some great posts in the series and today I want to share the importance of connecting with other bloggers.

On one hand unless you are a part of a group blog, blogging is something we do by ourselves. And it is a lot of work, brainstorming, photos, posts, designs, and social media phew I'm just tired typing it all out. But I want to encourage you to make a point to actually connect with other bloggers. This won't get you 100 new followers over night but it will pay off in growth in the long run. And more than that it will keep you from feeling that burn out that so many bloggers run into.

5 Ways to Connect That Wil Help Your Blog Grow

Leave meaningful comments on posts you love. We all love comments. But there is not much better than getting a comment that lets you know that that reader actually read the post and responded to it. When you comment take the time to read the post don't just scan the pictures and say something that you couldn't say about 50 other people's posts. There's just something a little annoying about getting a comment where it is just obvious they didn't read the text (like for me people often say "your kids are so cute" but if they read the post they'd know those aren't my kids in the pictures). You will be more memorable and others will more likely want to check out your blog.

Continue the Conversation With Other Bloggers. Whether you are replying to a comment they left on your post or you have a question for them go ahead and email. I have developed some great blogger relationships when I responded to comments left on some of my Hunger Games posts. I love those books and it was so fun to find other crafty book lovers. When people comment in a meaningful way thank them and continue the conversation. Another way to continue the conversation is to follow other bloggers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. When you see something interesting comment. Make a point to NOT just post links to your blog posts on your social media outlets. Give other bloggers shout outs, tell us what you're up to, ask questions, basically engage your followers. You can find me on twitter and instagram at @raegunramblings and on facebook at raegunwear.

Guest Post and Have Guest Posters.  There is no faster way to get to know other bloggers than by inviting them to guest post on your blog. Whether you want to have a special series like this one or just want guest posts here or there invite other bloggers to post on your blog. I suggest inviting bloggers who are smaller, bigger, and about the same size. Different people have different time constraints so don't feel bad if someone says no. Just ask someone else. You can put a general call for guest posts on your blog or you can email other bloggers directly. As far as posting on other people's blogs go respond to calls for guest posts you see on other bloggers sites, email people and pitch a post idea, and/or ask them if they are interested in blog swapping. It may be intimidating but the worse that is going to happen is that they will say now and really that puts you in the exact same spot you are in now. You will end up exposed to their readers and most likely get a blog friend out of the experience.

Find a Facebook Bloggers Group. I only recently found out that such a thing exists. Search for one or start your own and invite other bloggers. My Utah Bloggers fb group has been a wonderful source of support. We all need support. Once you have enough posts it's not a matter of if you'll get a nasty comment as much as when. It really helps to have someone to vent to who understands. Also as much as your real friends love you, most aren't going to really get your excitement over hitting that 1000 followers mark, or being featured on that huge blog, but blogger friends will. Finally blog friends are also in a position to promote you. Friends will naturally want to share your posts with their friends. The more you develop relationship with other bloggers the more likely they are to give a little facebook or twitter shout out for you. And the more people talking about you and your post the more likely you are to grow. In one of the groups I'm a part of ladies will often ask people to share which posts need attention and then they'll go visit, comment and help promote those posts that were shared.

Meet Other Bloggers In Person. Many communities have blogger meet ups. I'm lucky enough to live in Utah where we have a lot of bloggers.  You can find out about local meet ups in local blogger groups or by paying attention to other bloggers from your area. If you don't see anything happening consider setting up a meet up yourself. Email some bloggers you know are from your area and see if they'd like to do a meet up. It can be as simple as lunch out or something more involved. You might also think about going to a blogging conference. The prices and length vary and in addition to learning some great stuff about blogging you are sure to make some blogging friends. Most importantly don't just wait around, even if you aren't the most social butterfly reach out to other bloggers and be willing to take the first step to connect.

I hope this has been helpful. The last idea I want to leave you with is to be proactive. Don't just wait to bump into people make it happen. Leave comments, email, if you don't find groups or meet ups set them up yourself. You really have the power in this one. Hope this has been helpful to some of you. I'd love you to visit and say hi and if you have any questions just let me know and I'll do my best to answer.



 Sharing here: 52 Mantels, 36th Ave, Seven Alive, Katie's Nesting Spot, One Artsy Mama, See Vanessa Craft, Tatertots & Jello, Six Sisters' Stuff,        



Monday, August 20, 2012

Features!

Oh my goodness, is it Monday?! Yesterday we drove our second leg of the trip from Texas to North Carolina. I'm pretty burned out today, which is why there is no party today. So sorry! But I did want to show you some of the awesome projects that were linked up last week.

Since I'm back from my vacation this week, be prepared for more posts than there have been the last couple of weeks. I'm finally back to reality!

Here are some of the awesome projects from last week:

1. Scrabble Wall Art by Crafty Biggers
2. Subway Wedding Art by Crafting and Creativity
3. Family Frame by Kaminski's Creations
4. Ikea Stool Hack by Rae Gun Ramblings
5. Pumpkin Cheesecake by Love and Laundry
6. Ultimate Lego Party by One Artsy Mama

Awesome job! Feel free to grab a Featured button!!




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tips from the Best: One Artsy Mama

Hello!! I'm SO excited to start a new series here on Destination: Craft. I'm calling it:
I've asked some of the bloggers I admire to share how they feel you can best grow your blog. I hope you really read and enjoy this series because these bloggers are really awesome and have a lot they can tell us about being the best blogger we can be.

First on the line-up is Amy from One Artsy Mama. I first "met" Amy when I participated in her contest One Crafty Contest. It was a blast! She has some amazing advice, so keep reading!
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Hi there, friends!  I'm Amy, aka One Artsy Mama, and I'm thrilled to be here at Destination: Craft today to share with you a little about what I've learned since I started blogging a year and a half ago.



The Beginning:
I started One Artsy Mama was because one day I was searching for St. Patty's Day craft ideas to do with my son and ended up visiting a blog called That Artist Woman.  The author, Gail, is an art teacher who blogs about various projects she does with her students and/or personally.  I immediately thought to myself, "I need to do this!"  I've always been the creative type; I'm happiest when I'm making something whether it's using with paint, fabric, wood, stencils, jewelry, or anything else you can imagine.  I also love sharing that with my Little Crafter.  I decided that starting a blog where I shared my/our projects would be the perfect outlet for me and would hopefully be an inspiration to someone out there who was looking for fun things to do with their children.

{I think this was my original header...or at least a very early one!}


Getting Started:
I started posting about some kids' projects, and after about a month, I think I had around twenty followers...my mom, my husband, my mother-in-law, and as many friends as I could convince to read along.  One day I was feeling discouraged and complained to my hubby that I had started this blog in the hopes of sharing with and inspiring other people, but I felt like that was never going to happen because I didn't know how to get anyone else to visit my little corner of the blogosphere.  He just looked at me and said,
"You're smart, figure it out!  Figure out how to market yourself.  Look at what other people are doing and give it a try."
It was fantastic advice and just what I needed to hear.  I'm not much of a risk taker, but I realized that I was going to have to put myself out there and give it my best shot if I was going to be serious about this.  I started researching and being proactive. 

Within six months, I had 200 GFC followers.  By my one-year-blogiversary, I had 1000.  Today, I have over 1300, plus those who follow via email, bloglovin', Linky Tools, and Facebook.
Now, don't misunderstand, it's not about the numbers.  It never has been.
But for me, the numbers are a reflection of the fact that yes, I've gotten myself and my projects out there to do what I set out to do.  People are seeing, being inspired, and creating for themselves...one of my favorite things is when a reader sends me a photo of something they made that they saw on One Artsy Mama.  LOVE that
                 {our monster}                        {monster we inspired a reader to make}


The Growing Process:
Here are some of the risks I took that you may want to consider as you work on growing and improving your blog.  Each one links to a post I have specifically about that topic in my Growing Your Blog Series:

* Link Parties {joining them and hosting one}
* Building Real Relationships with other bloggers
* Accepting Advertisers/ Becoming an Affiliate
* Learning how to use Social Media to promote your blog
* Hosting Giveaways

Have there been awkward moments?  You bet your bottom dollar.


I've had projects that totally failed, posts nobody read, contests that barely anyone entered, and recipes that flopped.  I've contacted fellow bloggers who never responded, and I'm sure I've dropped the ball on a few folks who have contacted me, no matter how hard I try to stay on top of it all {if that was you, I'm so sorry}!  But despite the fails, the risks are worth taking.

The biggest risk I've taken recently was deciding to run a craft contest.
In hindsight, if I had known how much work and time was involved, I don't know if I'd have attempted it, but I'm so glad I did!  At first, I was afraid no one would enter.  I was hoping to get enough entries to have a Top 20, and as it turned out, 100 crafters entered the preliminary round!  I also had to take the risk of contacting companies and shops, asking them to sponsor prizes for various rounds and/or our overall winners.  It was a massive project, which took several months to plan and several more months to run, but the investment of time and energy was worth the effort because it brought so much inspiration to my blog as well as a bunch of new readers and friends.  If you're thinking of attempting something like this, here are some things you'll need to consider.

Taking the Leap:

Overall, my best advice to beginning bloggers is to take the leap and
don't be afraid to try!
Befriend other bloggers and learn from their expertise.  Put yourself out there and see what happens.  Your first attempt at something may fail, but you'll never know if you don't try...and chances are, you'll learn from your mistakes and the second time around will be a different story.  Blog growth doesn't happen overnight, especially if we're talking about real readers versus people who follow just to enter a contest.  But the more you're willing to try new things and step out there with what you have to offer, the more you'll find your own place in this wonderful thing called the blogosphere.  Good luck!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Destination: Cutesy Monday (#28)


Hi guys!

I'm still here in the great state of Texas and as you can see... I'm a little late on things. But it's because I'm hanging out with family and friends, so please forgive me!

Here are the features from last week:


2. Sonic Drink Sign by Crafty in Crosby
3. DIY Duct Tape Chevron Chair by Krafty Kat
4. Chevron Longhorn by Raggedy Creek Creations
5. Frozen Hot Chocolate by Love and Laundry
6. A Mad Tea Party by Meeha Meeha

Thanks so much!  Let's see what you've been up to!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seminary Journal Printable

My mom is a seminary teacher. That means she gets up early to teach high-school-aged kids about the church we go to. This year she wanted me to make her something to put on the front of the student's journals. 

Here's what I came up with:






I just put it through my sticker maker and slapped them on a composition notebook from the dollar store, and they were ready for the students. 


And... just in case you wanted to make them :)








Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Revamped Wedding Gift

One of the big reasons we came to Texas was because one of my husband's family friends is having his wedding reception here. So of course that introduced the problem of getting a wedding present taken care of before we left for Texas. 

My husband found this Fourth of July dish holder at Wal-Mart on sale for $9! It's so cute but I did NOT want to give it to them in the Fourth of July-ness that it was currently in. PLUS, it came with a Pyrex dish inside. What an awesome deal!


With some super cute Michael Miller fabric and a ruffle border, the top looks so much better!


Not only that, I tweaked the Pyrex dish to personalize it for the couple. Once again, ETCHING! I love glass etching.


I hope they like it. You never know if you don't personally know the bride, but at least it'll be useful!

Sharing here: Krafty Kat, Mommy by Day Crafter by Night, Winthrop Chronicles, Vintage Wanna Bee, Ginger Snap Crafts, Lil Luna, DIY Dreamer, NY Melrose Family,      



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Destination: Cutesy Monday (#27)

Hello from Texas! We're officially in Texas after 2 days of driving. It's been crazy but worth it. The kids are with their grandparents and loving EVERY minute.

Thank you so much for all the link ups from last week! I'm so so glad when you come and party with me. 

Here are some of the great projects from last week:

1. Making a Birdhouse with a Book by Chirping with Excitement
2. How to Make a Skirt (Very Easily) by The Chirping Moms
3. Home is Where the Hearts Are by Quintonwench
4. DIY Rosette Pillow by Winthrop Chronicles
5. Kitchen Mug Shelf by Color Me Domestic
6. Sweet Slumbers by Alderberry Hill

Awesome job!! Feel free to grab a "Featured" button!!

I'd LOVE for you to 
- Follow Destination: Craft
- Link back to Destination: Craft
- Show some other blogs some love!








Thursday, August 2, 2012

Switzerland Cupcakes

I bet you all woke up thinking, I want some cupcakes that remind me of Switzerland. 

Right? :)

Last night my husband told me he needed a treat to take to his work party for today. And they needed to be Switzerland-ish. (It's an Olympic-themed party). 


A little short notice but I was up for the challenge.

So I immediately thought of Red Velvet cupcakes. Red! And with some white frosting, it would be perfect. It took me a while to figure out how to get that cross on there, but I finally thought of Twizzlers. Perfect. I just made one strip of licorice and then two smaller parts for the sides of the cross. I think they turned out pretty good.

So, you know, if you ever have to make Switzerland cupcakes, now you can!



Now, don't cheer for Switzerland in the Olympics. It's all about the USA!! :)
(And sorry for the lame pictures, but I had to take the pictures last night. The hubs took them with him this morning.)

Sharing here: 36th Ave, One Artsy Mama,