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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

House Poaching

Sorry about the lack of posts lately.  It's not for lack of ideas or writer's block, but that oh so slippery concept of time.  I didn't expect life to get so hectic so quickly.  I've been jumping from one thing to the next, sometimes before I even get finished with the previous thing.  And, unfortunately, they aren't 'project' things!  Well, I guess growing, having and caring for a baby is a pretty big project, but the up-all-night deal leaves me super exhausted when nap time finally rolls around.  Sometimes this mama needs to do a little catch up with the sandman instead of with the glue gun.

The good news... My Mr Right finished up his active time in the Army and we are now a (mostly) civilian family!  Woohoo!  Don't get me wrong, I fully support the soldiers and their families that protect and fight for our freedoms, but it's not a lifestyle that everyone can live.  It's tough and I admire military families to no end.  We had a love/hate relationship with the Army.  It's not an experience I would trade, but it's not one I'd choose to re-live again either.  Especially as our family continues to grow.  I fully appreciate and love that my husband has a job that allows him to come home {almost} every evening and help me raise our little munchkins.

Along with that milestone came one we've been waiting almost two years for... VA Loan eligibility.  The ability to buy a home.  Because we already have a home (and loan) in Idaho, it's awfully hard to find someone willing to lend us more money for another house here.  So, we were {impatiently} waiting to be eligible for a VA Loan.  Our pre-approval has come through and, in the last week, we've spent almost every single day with our {amazing} realtor walking through home after home after home {with our children - that's a feat in and of itself} and signing offer after offer.  It's been more and more frustrating with every rejection letter.  (Okay, there's only been two, but still... the excitement, the wait, the hope, the rejection and disappointment and then to start over again is time consuming and exhausting - emotionally and physically)  There just isn't enough supply for all the demand around here.  Guess I will yet learn patience and perseverance.  However, all of my "free-time" has been spent pouring over sites like househunters and realtor.com, not pinterest or doing my own crafty thing.  We're awfully tempted to start 'poaching' houses instead of hunting for them.  Ok, not seriously... but maybe just a little.  I've never had so many people tell me they didn't want my money.


So, bear with me while I deal with real life for a bit.  Hopefully, things will either get moving or settle down a little soon.  I have a series I'm working on and hope to get it up and going in a week or so.  Until then, take the chance to look back through the archives.  There's some fun stuff from last year on organization and cleaning, as well as some cute Spring and Easter printables hanging out there.

(Click the "Spring" link above to download this printable.  
Variations also available in two other colors.  
After you click "Spring", scroll to the bottom of the page for this print.)


Monday, March 26, 2012

The Big Reveal


I finished the big creation of this project about six weeks ago, but it's an on-going work of art that requires daily care.  It's one of my very most favorite projects and I love it to pieces.  I couldn't be happier with the way it's turning out.  Meet our Little Gator.


This little man is six weeks old now.  He was a short, very intense four-hour labor.  Even with the epidural, my contractions about had me through the roof.  If it hadn't been for the ginormous needle, I wouldn't have been sure I had an epidural, as my contractions never really eased up after they put it in.  I was induced, but both of my nurses, my doctor and the anesthesiologist all said I probably would have been having him that day with or without the extra help.  Thank goodness it was over in four hours, instead of the eight hours it took Little Monkey to make his entrance (which is still pretty short, especially for a first-timer).




We spent about 27 hours in the hospital after Gator was born.  That first night was the longest night ever.  We didn't get to bed until after 1am and I was woken up every two hours after that.  A vitals check, blood draw for labs, sending Gator back because he wouldn't stop crying in the nursery.  He just wanted to be held and, apparently, the nursery nurses didn't want to hold him.  Maybe they really did have other things going on, but as a sleep-deprived, exhausted new momma, I was a little irritated that they sent him back to me at 4am.  He wouldn't sleep unless he was held and they wouldn't let us co-sleep  Another vitals check, breakfast (btw, I'd forgotten how gross hospital food is), hearing tests on Little Gator, more blood draws, ect.  Like I said, LONGEST NIGHT EVER!


They weren't hesitant to let him go, but me.  I've always had a problem keeping my iron levels up and tend to be rather anemic after labor and delivery.  My discharge doc wasn't my doctor and she was a little worried I'd hemorrage.  I didn't have a lot of blood loss during or after delivery, but the iron level from my labs and my blood pressure worried her.  It was awfully frustrating, since I felt fine, but better safe than sorry, right?  Ironically enough, they kept doing blood draws to check my levels.  I looked like an old, ragged, over-used pin cushion when I left.


Little Gator now tips the scales at over 10lbs.  He's got dark hair and blue-brown eyes.  His toes are extra long and his belly button is still a bit of an outie.  We'll see if it ever recedes or not.  His hands aren't as wide as Little Monkey's (that boy's got paws, I tell ya) but they are still wider than most baby hands.  He is an awesome sleeper and I can usually get at least a five hour stretch at night.  This boy is going to eat us out of house and home.  He has his daddy's appetite {and temperament when he's hungry}.  Luckily, this time around, I seem to be able to keep up with his demand, which really helps the pocketbook.  Little Gator is already showing us his spunky personality.  He has started smiling and cooing more and each and every one melt this momma's heart.


Little Monkey was less than an hour old when I told My Mr Right that we needed to have more kiddos.  Little Gator was about a week and a half old before I was thinking about more.  Now that we're passed those horrendous first couple weeks, I know there are more little ones in our future... but it'll be a little while before I jump back on the preggo wagon.  My Mr Right and I often joke that children are so cute when they sleep so that you won't kill them when they're awake... Some days, I think it's a totally valid point.  And Dan Herold was right on the money when he said "babies are such a nice way to start people".



Welcome to our family, Little Gator.  I'm so excited and blessed to be your momma.  I can't wait to watch you grow.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weekend Wander #73

Welcome, my friends!  How was your week?  Mine...?  Ugh.  One word sums it up:  STRESSFUL!  And maybe disappointing, but that's what makes success taste so sweet, right?  That's what I hear anyway.  I'll let you know about that, if we ever get that far.

I can't wait to see what you've all been up to.  About the only creative outlet I've had this week has been making dinner... Whoa there, slow down, right?!  I know.  I'm trying to pace myself, but sometimes it's so hard to hold back.  Haha.

We had some great links last week...

I love Suzy over at Suzy's Sitcom.  
She always has such unique and awesome projects.  
3-D eggs?  Too cool.

And maybe you saw this awesome little idea over at Melly Sews?  
I need something like this for my thread...

A big thanks to all who linked up.  I really do like going through all your links at 4am when I'm up feeding the baby.  It's fantastic, I love them all.

Well, let's get this party started...  And GO!




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pinterest: Links From Pinterest

Source

I had a friend pose a question, a very good question I might add.  A pinterest question.  She has an Etsy shop and has been getting quite a bit of traffic to her shop from Pinterest.  Awesome, right?  Well, she likes to update her listing photos, titles and descriptions often to get her stuff more exposure.


Her question?  Does the editing mess up the links on Pinterest?  As I'm sure many of you know, Etsy uses the title of your listing to create the unique listing web address.  Blogger does this as well for each post.  When she asked me this, I honestly had no idea if it messed the links up or not.  My initial gut feeling was no, but I really wasn't sure.  So, she did some digging and through trial and error she discovered... I was right, it doesn't.  Anti-climatic, much?  Yes, but also good news for my friend that her links will still work.  So, if you have a site that generates addresses based on title, rest assured, your links should work even if you make changes to the title.

Good to know, no?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weekend Wander #72

Welcome, welcome...  better late than never, yeah?  It's been a crazy hectic week.  You know, the kind where you find out you'll be homeless in 3 weeks...  Yeah, so I've had to deal with real life this week, and I have missed the blogosphere like crazy.  Things are so much simpler here.  Anyways, show off all your awesome good stuff.  I can't wait to see it all!

Rachel at Holy Craft had you all checking out what to snag at the Dollar Tree and what to pass on...
Check it out!

So, get to linkin' party people.  Show me all your good stuff!  And... GO!




Pinterest: Add a Pinterest Button to All Your Posts


I found a FABULOUS tutorial over at Outnumbered 3 to 1 on how to put a Pin It button on all your posts.  Without having to manually insert the code in every post!  I'm in love.  It's amazing.  Definitely worth checking out.

Since it's such a great and easy to follow tutorial, I'll just link to it and give the well-deserved props {and traffic} where they are due.  {And it's less for me to type out........  Just sayin'}.  So, go get your Pin It button on.  Oh, an don't forget to come back and party with me this weekend.




Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest: Protect Your Work

So now you know how to be a better pinner.  What about your stuff that others are pinning?  Well, today we're going to talk about protecting your work as a blogger.  As I mentioned briefly, it bothers me when I click on a pin and expect to visit an informative post or article or what have you that will explain the image to me only to find that I've been directed to a blog or other site that simply featured the project.  Usually, but not always, there is a link to the original source.  It's just an extra step... annoying, but not impossible to deal with.  At least I can still get to the original content.  It's the times when there is no direct link to the source...  ugh, drives me crazy.  The cool photo becomes nothing more than just that.

Source

Enter Pinterest.  One HUGE collection of features from the ginormous universe that is the Internet.  I hate the "Uploaded by User" source tag, unless the photo is explained.  {That's the only time I really will ever re-pin something with that source tag.  Otherwise, it's just a photo.}  So, your photo is now on Pinterest... and guess what?  It's being repinned over and over, seen by thousands of people a day!  But, it wasn't pinned from your website.  Someone did an image search and pinned your image from the results or your project was featured on another site and pinned from there, so the pin leads somewhere that isn't your site.  Feeling a little ripped off?  Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do, but there are a couple of options.

Screenshot via Pinterest on my account

1.  You can leave a comment on the pin with the address to your original post.  The original pinner may or may not fix the source of their pin.  And they may delete your comment, but at least you tried.  Some people don't understand or care about giving the credit where it's due and why that is important.
2.  Watermark your images.  This is even more important to do now than ever before.  Claim credit for your work, even if it doesn't lead back to your original post or image.  People will at least be able to see a website address and can go find you from there.

That's about all you can do.  But, something is better than nothing right?

You can find a tutorial on watermarking your images HERE.  I now watermark EVERY photo I upload to the internet, including ones I put on our family blog.  I'd be awfully upset if I came across someone claiming photos of my family and kiddos as their own.  I've seen it happen.  I watermark my Etsy photos now too (I guess they won't feature any images with watermarks on the front page?).  I get far more traffic to my Etsy from Pinterest (aka, very little) than I do from Etsy's front page (aka, none).  After my photo debacle with Google+ I am having to go back to my older posts and make sure that everything has a watermark.  It's time consuming, but the traffic I receive from Pinterest makes the time worth it.  I want my photos to remain mine, without having to completely remove them.

I want credit for the work I've done, I'm sure you do too.  Watermark your photos as you put them up.  This ensures two things.  First, that only images with your mark on them will get pinned.  And, two, you won't have to spend hours and hours and hours watermarking things later.

I would also suggest making your watermark consistent.  Use the same font or image or whatever you use as your watermark.  Eventually, it will become recognized as yours, even if your site address isn't written all over the photo.  Play around with it and see what you like the best.  Work toward something that you can keep the same and use on all your photos.  Sites like Pinterest are only going to get bigger and bigger.

  

Examples of text watermarks

You can create watermarks in a variety of ways, from complex software {like Photoshop} to the basics {like Paint}.  You can even create them online {I used to use Picnik... but not any more, since it's gone}.  You can save the image on your computer and use it over and over.  You'll want a .png image if you choose that route.  You can use an image or text or a combination of the two.  I know it's annoying and time consuming, but if you want to keep the credit for your images, unfortunately it's a necessity.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pinterest: Some Things To Know

Source


Amy at Living Locurto has a couple of posts with some great information about Pinterest.  You can find her original post HERE.  There's some seriously good info in it and she's got some other links to more good info.

Do you know what happens to your image once it's pinned?  Or about how some people are using Pinterest {and your projects, ideas, recipes and photos} for their own gain?  What can you do about it?  Check it out.  It's very interesting information.

And make sure you check out yesterday's post for tips on how to be a better pinner.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Pinterest: Be a Better Pinner

So, I started this post and it just kept going and going and going... like, we're talking the Energizer bunny kind of going.  So... I decided to break it down and this will be a little mini series.  So, shall we get started?

I'm sure you've at least heard of the raging fad that is Pinterest.  If not, you can get all the info on that HERE.  It's a very awesome tool and I love that it's versatile, easy to use and available wherever I have an internet connection (although I'm still impatiently waiting for an Android app... hint, hint app developers...).  I don't have to be on my laptop to access all my bookmarks.  And the social sharing aspect is cool too.  It's like having tons of eyes all over the internet, because seriously there's no way I'd have time to go search out all the great things I have pinned.  Anyway, very cool.  If you haven't checked it out, you should.


Already on the bandwagon?  Awesome.  Are you really a good pinner though?  I'm not talking about what you actually pin, but how you pin it.  I have been spending many a nursing sessions with one hand holding my snuggly little guy and the other hovering over my laptop while I gaze on image after image as I scroll through pin after pin.  Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on an image, expecting to get more info on this totally awesome picture, and I get a blog home page or a Google image search and the photo that originally brought me to the site is NO WHERE to be found!  Or I get a blog post where a project has been featured, but the actual project is on a totally different site.  Does that annoy anyone else?!

I'll be honest and admit that I'm not sure if it bothers me more as a pin stalker or as a blog author.  It's frustrating when you're trying to find more details on a project, recipe, article, ect and you have to go on a wild goose chase to find what you're looking for (or, even better, waste a bunch of time looking and never finding!).  It's also frustrating to find other projects that aren't mine pinned back to my site from a feature post.  People ask me questions about a project I know nothing about.  The project authors worked hard and deserve the links to their site.  And, yes, it bothers me when I don't get the links back for my work too.

Source
So, how do you become the best pinner you can be?  Always pin from the source.  That's it in a nutshell.  It does require a little more effort on your part, but you'll be thankful (and thanked).  You will always be able to find the direct source for your bookmarks.  The soup you saw that looked so delicious... you'll be able to easily and reliably find the actual recipe unless the source site removes it.  I very, very rarely ever use the repin button.  In fact, I only use it when I am browsing the mobile site from my tablet or phone (and then I try to go back later and repin from the original source) because Android doesn't have a Pinterest app.  Ugh.  I always visit the source of the pin, especially if I'm repinning, because I get to actually see the content in order to pin it.  That way I know I really do like the idea and want to save it for later.  And sometimes I find a better picture during my visit.

How do you link from the direct source?  For example, when I feature links from Weekend Wander parties, click over to the blog that linked it up before you pin.  It'll be less frustrating for others that see your pin and want more info because your link will send them directly to the info they want.  It'll also give the traffic (and credit) to the actual project author, who deserves it.

Instead of pinning from this page, click on the green text link
and visit the actual blog the images came  from originally.
Don't want to leave this page, right click the link and open in a new tab or window.

{Making all my links open in new tabs is on my to-do list, but it's somewhere under
"feed the baby", "bathe the two year old" and "shower".  It's a work in progress.}


 If you're browsing a blog's homepage, click on the post title before you pin.  That will save the post address as the link on your pin, not just the home page.  If you save the home page, the image and post you pinned originally will eventually get lost in archived pages as more posts go up and your pin will pull up the most recent content.

This is my home page address.
Anything pinned from this page will bring you to my most recently published content,
even if the image you pin is in an older post that has since been archived to older pages.

This is the direct link address to my Rag Edge Burp Cloth tutorial.
Anything pinned from this address will bring you (or anyone else) back to this tutorial.

If you've done a Google image search (or any other image search), click on the image and go to the source site before you pin it.  I saw a pin on one of my aunt's boards a few weeks ago.  It was this printable.  Look familiar?  No?  Check out the watermark in the middle of the print...


I thought "Ooh, hey, she checked out my blog.  That's cool."  I don't advertise my blog much with my family and was pretty sure she isn't a regular reader, so it was fun to think that maybe she checks it out every so often.  Then I took a closer look.  She had repinned someone else's pin... who had done a Google image search for "every love story".  The pin linked to the search results on Google.  Because my aunt had re-pinned the image she had no clue that I'd actually designed and made the print or that it even came from a blog, let alone my blog.  {Or that I even have a blog.}  Not that it really matters, but it illustrates my point.  The only credit I received from that pin, and my aunt's repin, was from my watermark (and now you know why you should watermark all your photos).  And her repin has since been repinned.  I spent about 2 hours designing and creating that print, a little credit isn't too much to ask, right?  Google gets plenty of traffic, and I'm working for every visit I get.  This traffic misdirection is especially hard on those bloggers that blog as a profession.  I just blog as a hobby and I don't loose much more than traffic with poorly cited pins.  Professional bloggers, on the other hand, have a lot more to lose.

One more thing.  Be descriptive with your pin descriptions.  "Ooh, very cool." doesn't help me figure out what the heck that's a picture of!  "Ooh, very cool.  Bookcase made from rain gutters." is soo much more helpful and I can decide if it's worth a visit to the source site to check  it out.

Do you have any Pinterest peeves?  Or any other advice on how to be a better pinner?




Looking for Cheesecloth?

I'd like to take a moment and introduce one of my new sponsors to you.  Cheesecloth is a fun medium to use in your crafty endeavors, as well as useful in the kitchen.  We have an horchata recipe that we love and use cheesecloth to do our straining.  And I love using cheesecloth to decorate with around Halloween.  Here's what this sponsor has to say about their product:
Cheesecloth.us is a wholesale provider of cheesecloth. Cheese cloth is a unique type of fabric that can be used for a variety of different tasks and not just making cheese. You will find it mentioned in most recipes that require straining and various arts and crafts projects. Here are some examples of DIY uses on this blog: a cheesecloth ghost tutorial and a recipe box re-make. As a word of advice, cheesecloth comes in a bunch of different grades (the higher the number, the more expensive and finer woven the fabric is). For DIY and craft projects, the #10 grade is probably the best option. One of the advantages of cheesecloth fabric is that it is reusable. Obviously the fabric will break down at some point, but the higher the grade, the longer it will last. So if you find yourself making a lot of recipes that require straining in them, then cheese cloth is something you should look into getting. Find out more details and how to order online at http://www.cheesecloth.us
So, consider cheesecloth.us for all your kitchen and decorative cheesecloth needs.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Weekend Wander #71

Welcome to this week's party!  We're still getting settled in over here and we've had some nasty bugs floating around here lately.  {Yesterday, I  was covered in every bodily fluid you can imaging... TMI?  Sorry.  Imagine my disguist...}  I can't believe my baby is already a month old!  Seems like just yesterday I wasn't getting any sleep in the hospital room on the maternity floor and the nursery kept sending our kid back because he wouldn't stop crying and just wanted to be held.  Ahh, good times... and that's why we only stayed 27 hours.  If I wasn't going to sleep, I was at least not going to sleep at my own house.  Anywho... I'm still not back into my crafting mojo but I can't wait to see what you've all been up to.

The most viewed link last week was this very neat idea Khadija's Creative Mind shared. 
 Go check it out for all the details.


A great big thanks to everyone who linked up!
Let's get another awesome party started... and GO!




Wednesday, March 07, 2012

{Printable} March Subway Art

I know we're already a whole week into March, but I didn't remember how much time a newborn takes up.  I figured 29 days would be enough to recover and get settled... HA.  Anyways, here is the March subway art.  Click the link to download watermark free versions.  Enjoy!  I am still working on getting the entire set up in my Etsy shop.









Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Bundles of Baby: Scented Heat Bag

With this pregnancy, my primary complaints have been back pain and some raging migraines.  I’m banned off all the good drugs for the headaches, so I spend those days wallowing on the sofa.  But my back has been killer this entire pregnancy.  Like from day numero uno.  KILLER.  I’m sure part of that is that I have a two-year old to tote around this pregnancy, as well.  It only took me twice of being so stiff and sore at night and hardly being able to move the next morning before this little baby came to light.  Meet my new best friend:
2011-09-11_10-45-03_64
Here’s the How:
1)  I apologize for the lack of photos of the process, but it’s fairly self-explanatory.  You will need: 
-Approximately 1/4 yard of flannel
-coordinating thread
-6 cups of rice
-essential oils (optional)

2)  You can make your rice bag however large you’d like.  I wanted one that I could use all over my entire back all at one time, so long and skinny is what I decided to do.  I folded my flannel with the right sides together and sewed together the three open sides, leaving about a three inch gap to turn and fill my bag.

3)  I turned the bag right side out.  This is where you fill the bag (typically) but, I had a problem.  The rice in all my little bags always fell to the bottom of the bag.  Thanks for that, gravity.  So, I sewed a square swirl pattern onto the bag.  This made tubes and ensured the rice would stay put.  Here’s the downside to that: the heat pack doesn’t stay warm as long as it would if I could move the rice around in it easier.  However, it still serves it’s purpose and actually helps keep the temperature low enough that I don’t overheat (being too hot makes me nauseous and it doesn’t take much when you’ve got your own little heater on board.  It also works well for Little Monkey if he’s achy and sore without being too hot).  If you opt to put tubes in your bag, I would suggest only sewing together two of the sides and leaving one side open.  Then sew tubes down the bag and fill them through the open end.  This will make step 5 WAAY easier than what I did!
2011-09-11_10-45-43_575
4)  Fill a bowl with your rice and add some essential oil to scent your rice.  I used lavender and eucalyptus mint, relaxing and invigorating.  This step is optional; but, it can have a slightly funky smell if you don’t scent it.  Mix the rice well.

5)  Fill the bag with the rice.  Because I did the spiral design, filling the bag took a million years.  Ok, it probably took a few hours.  I had to put in just a little at a time and push it all the way to the end.  Then I used straight pins to hold it in place while I put in a little bit more and repeated the process… for hours.  This is why I suggested sewing tubes instead of a swirly spiral pattern.

6)  After you fill the bag, sew up your fill hole.  I just hand stitched it, but you could use a machine.  Your bag is now ready to use.  Pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, depending on size, and sit back and enjoy the warmth. 
2011-09-11_10-46-40_697    
This has worked wonders for my back and I know it has not seen the last of it’s useful days!  Here’s to sore-no-more muscles!

Krista

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