Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to Make Blog Buttons Grab-able

I've had several people ask me about how to make blog buttons, and especially how to make blog buttons "grab-able". It's pretty easy. Let me show you how!

First you need an image editing program. I use Pixelmator, but there are many free alternatives on the web, such as Pixlr or FotoFlexer, or you could use something more advanced, like Photoshop.

I'll give instructions using Pixelmator, but it should be similar processes for other programs.

First, open a new project. Decide what size button you want and enter those dimensions. Mine is going to be 300x75 pixels.


Next, decide on a background color and fill it in. You can add variants to the color, such as stripes, a sunbeam, or other artistic modifications.



Add an image if you like. It should be something that represents you and your blog. Try to tie it in with your existing theme so that people recognize your brand when they see it elsewhere.




Next add text to your button. Usually the name of your blog works, or you can use a phrase or saying too. Remember that there's not much space on a button, so keep it short!



Save your button. Make sure to keep a .jpg or .png copy, which is what you'll need to use it online.



Upload your photo to a photo sharing site like Flickr or Photobucket. This will give your photo a permanent web address. Now your blog button is created and uploaded, so it's time to make it "grab-able"!

Make an HMTL widget in your blog's sidebar. Open the HMTL browser and copy/paste the following HTML into it. The all-caps words will be where you enter your own information.


<div align="”center”">
<a href="YOURBLOGADDRESS" target="”_blank”"><img src="YOURIMAGEADDRESS"/></a>
</div>
<div align="”center”">
<form><textarea rows="”6″" cols="”19″" readonly="”readonly”"><a href="YOURBLOGADDRESS" target="”_blank”"><img src="YOURIMAGEADDRESS"/></a></textarea></form>
</div> 

Paste your image's web address and your blog's web address into the appropriate spots. Note that there are two places to enter each address. When you're done, save your work and admire your new grabable blog button! It should look something like this:



10% Off Your Order

To celebrate passing 60 subscribers to my blog, I'm offering my loyal readers a discount to my Etsy shop this week!

Use the code JUSTJEN10 when you checkout at my Etsy shop for 10% off your order. This code will only be good for one week, through August 6th, so don't wait!





Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Nephews are Adorable!

Here are some pics of my cute nephews taken on our family vacation this month! I can't believe how big they're getting!



Friday, July 29, 2011

Time to Focus on My Right-Brain!

Last week I went in to register for classes and to meet with my advisor. I've been to that campus before (my mom used to work there), but it felt different being there as a soon-to-be student!

I'll be taking three computer classes (Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator), a design composition class, and a drawing class. I think I'm most nervous about the drawing class. What if I'm just terrible at it? On the other hand, it'd be really cool if I was good at it. :)

I feel like I'm turning a corner in my life. I've been focused on my left-brain all these years and now it's finally time to focus on my right-brain! I hope the artist lying dormant in me is ready to come out! I'm nervous about it but also very excited, if that makes any sense. These are things that I've wanted to learn for years but never had the time or money to do. It's so cool to think that it's nearly time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

August Sponsorships

I've been SUPER busy this month and haven't been very diligent in getting in touch for people about possibly doing August sponsorships. I realize this is short notice, but if you are interested, here are the details:

  • Free 300x75 spot on my blog in exchange for a free button of mine on your blog (let me know what size button you'll need).

  • Sponsor highlight post

    • Answer this question: What Meyers-Briggs personality type are you? Describe yourself and how you've seen this personality type played out in your life and career aspirations. (here is a free quiz if you aren't sure what type you are -- more descriptions of the types can be found here).

  • Photo of yourself (let me know if you just want to use one you've previously sent)

As always, you are welcome to do a guest post, Etsy giveaway, or DIY post. It's up to you, but totally not required. It's a fun way to gain exposure for your blog, but I realize it can be a lot of work too.

Please let me know by the 31st if you want to do this sponsor exchange for August. If you're a previous sponsor and I already have some of these items from you, just let me know and I'll search my email archives for what I need! ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mark Every Hour With A Picture!

Yesterday I tried a fun experiment that I may repeat again. I took a photo every hour, on the hour (give or take 5-10 minutes), all day long. I saw this done about a week ago over on Artichoke Designs and wanted to give it a try. It was definitely a fun experience and made the day seem to go by really fast!

If you were following me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably already saw some of these, but for the rest of you, here's what my day looked like yesterday.



10:00am - Still sleeping. One of the perks of unemployment.
11:00am - The rain stopped for the first time in two days so I went outside to take Etsy pictures.
12:00pm - Carlita wouldn't stop playing with my yarn, so I gave her a remote to play with instead.
1:00pm - Working on a new pattern. So far, it's driving me crazy.

2:00pm - Watching "A Pixar Story" on Netflix while I work on my knitting.

3:00pm - Carlita fell asleep on the back of my chair while I was knitting.
4:00pm - Microwaving my lunch. Yum.
5:00pm - Finally settled on a new pattern to try. I'm almost done with the first prototype. So far, so good.
6:00pm - Carlita is surveying the neighborhood.
7:00pm - Waiting for the rice to finish so I can have dinner.
8:00pm - It got warm this evening, so I broke out the fans.
9:00pm - Time sure rushes by when you mark every hour with a picture! I just finished dinner and I think I'll start another hat.
10:00pm - Lights out. Time to watch a little tv before bed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guest Post: Eurotrip 2010

Hello lovely readers! Today we have a guest post from LeeLee! I'm getting ready to go on vacation this week, so I'll let her keep you company while I pack.



Last year, me and my family went to Madrid, Barcelona,  Sevilla, Florence, Venice, Rome, Pisa, Naples and Paris. It was a very special time, we had fun and those memories will last forever! I took tons of photos- UNTIL my second day in Venice. I was waiting for my family to get ready, I was already downstairs. The Hotel had a little bridge and next to the bridge, it had stairs. I was so stupid just getting near that.. but guess what? sometimes we are curious and we do stupid things.. hahahaa.. I didn't know I was going to end up soaked in water because I slipped on the stairs that were full of algae.. eww.. well, my camera DIED that day.. thank god my usb card didn't die with it too. 


So anyway here are some photos I took of my trip, my favorite ones.. and before my camera died.. may she R.I.P.



















Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Get-To-Know-Me Post

I've had a lot of new subscribers lately, so thought it was probably time for another "About Me" post! Enjoy. :)




1. Who are you?
I'm a 32-year-old soon-to-be graphic-design student, living with her cat and her roommate in a medium-sized apartment in NW Oregon.

2. What are the 3 most important things everyone should know about you?
I'm very introverted and love spending time alone with my thoughts. I can be very funny and silly when I want to be. I love coffee... of course.

3. When you aren't doing memes like this one what are you doing?
Well, I'm currently unemployed (long story), so have been using a lot of my spare time to look for a job. I've also been knitting up a storm (check out my Etsy shop!) and watching the Big Brother live feeds (I can't help it, it's addicting).




4. List your classes in school from the ones you like the most to the ones you like the least (or if you are out of school, think of the classes you did like and didn't like at the time).
I always loved English. I love reading and writing, so that was generally a really fun class to me. Art was also fun, although I went to a small high school so didn't have much opportunity for that. History class was sort of a love-hate relationship for me. I loved learning about people of the past, but have always been horrible at memorizing dates. PE was definitely my least favorite class and the one that consistently ruined my 4.0 average. I guess I'm more of a library girl than a sports girl. ;)

5. What is your biggest goal for this year?
To get through the first year of my graphic design program. I'm excited to start it in just 2 months!!

6. Where do you want to be in 5 years?
Hopefully living in Portland, or maybe NYC, in my own cozy little pad, graphic-design degree in hand. I hope to be working consistently enough in that field to also be able to also afford vacations to fun places like Europe or South America.




7. What stage of life are you in right now?
I'm quickly approaching mid-life without much to show for it yet. I'm hoping to amend that by working towards a career that will spark my inner creativity and passion.

8. Are you more child-like or childish?
Not sure. Maybe child-like? I hope I'm mature, but I also don't want to lose the hope and sense of wonder that children have.

9. What is the last thing you said out loud?
Great question. It was probably something to my cat. I slept in and then texted my friend for awhile and then laid on the couch and read a book. Nothing very exciting to talk about today!

10. What song comes closest to how you feel about your life right now?
I'm pretty contented with my life right now, and on the verge of something better, which is exciting. I'm not entirely sure what song captures that, but maybe this one:






11. Have you ever taken martial arts classes?
No, but I've seen The Karate Kid a number of times. Does that count?


12. Does your life tend to get better or worse or does it just stay the same?
It's about average. I guess I'm mostly a realistic optimist, so don't really think about if things are getting worse or better. I just figure out how they are now and how I hope they can be, and then I move towards that.

13. Does time really heal all wounds?
Yes, I think so. Everything feels worse in the moment.

14. How do you handle a rainy day?
With joy! Rainy days are my favorite days. They feel so comforting and relaxing to me. I love them!


15. Which is worse...losing your luggage or having to sort out tangled holiday lights?
Umm... neither? I've actually never lost my luggage before, but it's just stuff. And sorting out tangled lights is actually kind of fun... like figuring out a puzzle.

16. How is (or was) your relationship with your parents?
Good. Fine. They're awesome. :) They give great advice and make good food. 

17. Do you tend to be aware of what is going on around you?
Not so much. I do like people-watching if I'm in the mood, but most days I'm just absorbed in my little world. I'm a day-dreamer and a book-reader, so those things don't lend themselves to paying attention to the outside world.


18. What is the truest thing that you know?
That Jesus saved my soul.

19. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to do everything. Be a teacher, a writer, a mommy, a fireman, a trapeze artist. Life seems limitless when you read a lot of books. ;)

20. Have you ever been given a second chance?
For what? I'm not sure what this question is getting at so I'm skipping it.

21. Are you more of a giver or a taker?
I tend to stay by myself most days, so not sure how to answer this question. Although I do like giving a listening ear to my friends. People tend to instinctively know they can trust me, so tend to tell me all their secrets.

22. Do you make your decisions with an open heart/mind?
I tend to make decisions based on my gut. I look at all the facts and then I jump in with what my gut is telling me. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with having an open heart/mind, but there you go...

23. What is the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to you?
I twisted funny on my knee in high school and it popped out of socket and back in. That pain literally took my breath away, and my knee hasn't been the same since.

24. What is the most emotionally painful thing that has ever happened to you?
Probably losing my close friend in college. She died of a heart attack on her way to class one day. I've had closer people to me die since, but none that died so young and unexpectedly. That was really a shock.

25. Who have you hugged today?
My cute little kitty cat!! She's a great hugger. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter

I remember the first time I'd ever heard of Harry Potter. It was around 1999 or so and there were only 2 or 3 books out yet. I was in college and working at the library on campus. One of the librarians, an outgoing Asian lady of about 40, was obsessively talking about "Harry Potter!!" all the time. I wondered what on earth she was meant and so, out of curiosity, I went to find the books. Of course I found what appeared to be children's books, which further confused me as to why a 40-something woman was seemingly obsessed with them. Mostly out of curiosity, I decided to try them. And... as they say... the rest is history.

As any good Potter fan knows, these books are generally read at lightning speed, with the reader unable to put them down for anything. Page after page I read, rapt with attention at these wonderful stories. For nearly ten years, a third of my life, I waited with baited breath for the next installment to come out. I wanted to see what happened next! I would buy the hardback the day they came out, read them rapidly in a day or two, and then would re-sell them at a higher price on eBay to some other rabid fan. I now own tattered paperback copies, read and re-read over the years.

As the series went on, the books grew longer, though they never seemed to take any more time to devour. The last book was the most painful to read. I was drawn in, like watching a horror movie, as the characters whom I'd grown to care so much about over the past decade were being killed right and left, unceremoniously, at the hands of He Who Shall Not Be Named. I cried as Hogwarts crumbled, the location of so many adventures and triumphs. When Harry himself died, I was beside myself with grief, yet still I turned the pages. As the narrative unraveled further yet, and as it turned out, Harry was not actually dead, and did in fact live to kill Voldemort himself, I felt overjoyed! It seemed to be a very fitting ending to a long journey.

I loved especially the 19 years forward part at the end of the last book. It felt like a salve, put on a wound that had occurred during a long drawn-out battle. I loved knowing that these characters were able to live on. Hogwarts was going to be restored to it's former glory, with new generations of wizard children about to have their own adventures within it's halls, oblivious of the wars that were fought there when their parents were young. I felt a pang of bittersweetness when we learned that Teddy Lupin was also attending school at Hogwarts. I wondered if he knew of his parent's heroic deaths?

It's funny because these characters feel so real to me. Obviously I know they're not, but there's something interesting about growing up with a story, reading it bits at at time. It helps the characters take on a life of their own, like you're reading snippets of someone's blog, learning about their life as they live it. Years passed and I lived my own life, while also they were living theirs. Every year or so I was able to check in on them and see how they were doing. It's a bit sad to think that I won't be able to find out what happens next... although I am very glad to know that they make it at least 19 more years in relative peace and happiness. Maybe one day we'll have a new series to pore over, watching the next generation's antics and adventures. One can hope!
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