Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Project page

...or a database if you're feeling extra fancy!

This is a site update that very likely only matters to me, but that's ok. I was listening to an episode of one of my very favorite podcasts last week (Elise Gets Crafty), and she did a whole chat about FOCUS. One of her tips about how to focus if you feel like you have just too many ideas swirling around in your head to focus on any of them is to simply write them down. There's more to the exercise, but basically by giving them a place to live outside your brain, you can clear out some space to think without feeling like you're going to lose all those thoughts by not focusing on them and running through them over and over again.

I'm definitely a proponent of the "write it down" school of thought - I do it at work in a physical notebook (somehow digital task lists don't work for me there), making lists for all the to-do's of the different projects I'm on. My google calendar is my lifeblood - if I haven't written it there (and set alerts for myself!) I'm unlikely to remember that it's happening. I use Goodreads to remember what books I've read....and if I liked them (yep, it's come to that!). I use a physical notebook to organize my personal business ideas, posting schedule, pattern notes, etc.

I love Ravelry for its project page, but it's specific to yarn craft, and, as I mentioned in a comment on my last post, I'm multi-craftual! I've been doing a lot of sewing lately, and sometimes, man, it's just hard to remember where you've been. It's also sometimes hard to remember you're already working on 4 projects when you excitedly start a new one....Plus I've got an inkling that the busy season for my shop is going to creep up on me pretty soon, so I wanted to get organized.

I've divided it up into 3 sections - things I'm working on, things I've finished (and when!), and a very sneaky 3rd category that seems to plague many crafters, things that are thisclose to being done, but still need finishing. For me, I need to sew on the buttons and do an inside ribbon detail on the Nova sweater dress. The poor thing is fully knitted, seamed, and I've even woven in the ends. Then I had to buy the ribbon and it landed in a pile in the closet. So close!

To keep myself on task, I've listed my "in progress" projects in the order in which I'd like to finish them. Sometimes - in the case of gifts or Etsy orders - there are even due dates! Because I plan for this to just be an always updating list, I didn't include photos, but I did link to the projects when I've done posts on them. (I have another page coming next week that WILL have pictures, and I'm pretty excited about it.) I just went back a couple of months for my "finished" objects, but I'm excited to be more on top of it in the future. Nothing is more motivating, for me anyway, than seeing everything I've done all gathered up into a master list!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

HTML-oh boy

For those of you who are not bloggers, the long and short of it is that I am a wizard and I made my website go from looking like this:

to this: (the difference is on the right if you can't find it!)

For those of you who ARE bloggers, the longer of it is that I was messing around and realized that the "subscribe to feed" link on my old buttons sent you to an error page rather than to the feedburner subscription page. Bummer! It had seemed like I had set it all up correctly through, but apparently not. Now, I don't know about you all, but I read blogs almost exclusively through a feed reader. (I use Feedly, which I don't looooove as much as I loved Google Reader, which was quirky in its own ways, but I was used to the quirks.) I tend to visit the webpages themselves only when I want to leave a comment, I'm searching for something specific, or when they are brand new to me and I want to subscribe. So to have my own subscribe button not work?! For shame.

I went to Add This, but somehow I wasn't able to find the code for what I had already installed so that I could edit it. I wasn't convinced that it would work better if I re-did it through their site since I was fairly certain I'd done it correctly in the first place, so....I decided to DIY. This was terrifying. HTML and coding make my eyes glaze over, because I just do NOT understand it at all. All those carrots and colons and slashes....I mean HOW do they make pictures into buttons that do stuff? Where do the pictures come from? What sorcery is this??

Luckily, I found a surprisingly intuitive website that spelled it all out for me, at least within the confines of this little blogger sidebar widget:

You guys. It was EASY. And it made SENSE! Ok, it still took me a few hours, but I didn't get a headache, so I am calling it easy. This article broke it down into five simple steps, and I pretty much followed them to the letter.

1 Choose which social networks you want buttons for

 Obviously email subscription was my most important button, since that was the whole point of opening this can of worms. I liked adding an email me option there too, and I felt it was important to link to my Etsy shop. I've been using Instagram most lately, which is a surprise to me. I use Facebook from time to time, and while I don't fall down the Pinterest hole as often as I once did, I do still love it for collecting inspiration or for researching new projects. Because I need to take on new projects? Finally I also added my Twitter and an easy link to Bloglovin, another feed reader that seems to be gaining popularity.

2 Get image files

 This was actually kind of tricky. You can get the logos that are branded by service, sort of like my old buttons. It's easy to ID the service, but they stick out like a sore thumb because their themes don't match each other, and they all don't match my more minimalist aesthetic. There are luckily lots of free social media button packages out there that look prettier, but I had a hard time finding ones I liked that also had all of the buttons I needed based on step 1. In the end, I ended up downloading a set that had five of the icons I needed, and then I created the other three myself in Photoshop to match the same style. I'd add a "Step 2 part B" to this list in that the images need to be hosted somewhere. To answer my question to myself above, that's where the pictures come from. They need to live somewhere on the internet with their own unique web address. Then the HTML mumbo jumbo references that address, which we'll get to in step 3. I uploaded mine to a Picasa web album.

3 Customize the gadget code

This is where my eyes normally glaze over. They did at the start. But I forced myself to get through this section, and this breakdown at the end made SO. MUCH. SENSE. to me. I'm taking this next bit directly from her website, so I cannot take credit for this actually making sense. Basically, to make the little button do something, there is code behind it that looks like this:

 Then she gave the actual English interpretation for what that means:
A href statement = the address of what is being subscribed to
img src = the image address
Style = commands for the image (and no, I don't really know how to manipulate those)
alt-text = (the latter is read out to visually-impaired people)

I mean, whoa. My mind was blown. With this translation at my side, I was able to take this little image (for Bloglovin)

and put it's little address in the relevant part of the code

 and voila!

it magically showed up there on the right hand side of the screen!

Ok, it still wasn't QUITE "voila." I did some messing around with adding line breaks in a couple of different ways until I liked the look of it, which took a lot of, ok, if I change this and save and I like it? No. Change THIS and save and reload. Which was a little annoying. But I managed, and I didn't break anything.

Technically there are two more steps to the tutorial - 4, Add the code to your website and 5, Back it up, but I did steps 3-5 over and over again in succession, so they felt like one step at the time. But anyway, hats off to Mary Curtin, who got me through this bit of actual manual computer coding without swearing, crying, or drinking to excess. Yay!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's going around - Liebster Award

I think using the word "award" is a little off, since this basically amounts to a get to know you survey. But I suppose being nominated for a survey isn't that exciting? So....I've been nominated for a Liebster Award by Heather from Nearly There and Leyla from Silk and Wool

So there are rules.
  1. Post 11 random facts about myself
  2. Answer 11 questions the awarding blogger has asked
  3. Nominate 11 blogs with less than 200 followers, add their links to this post, and let them know that they have been nominated
  4. Create 11 questions the nominated blogs have to answer
  5. (and post these rules!)
I'm probably going to break the rules, most notably the nomination of other blogs. I'll do my best to call some out specifically, but I'm also very open to self nomination. Want to participate? Comment or email me at cozycapecottage {at} and I'll add you to the post. Oh, and I'm also ignoring the follower rule, because I can't actually figure out how many people follow THIS blog, let alone others. I'm just tagging blogs I like or people who have left me some comments recently to get to know them better!

Random facts about me:

1. I hate driving. The self driving Google car can't come quickly enough for me.

2. I like the idea of traveling much more than the reality of it. I love seeing new places and doing cool things, but I tend to lose MY cool on the last day or two of a trip, no matter the length. I'm a homebody for sure.

3.  I swam distance on the varsity team as a freshman in high school, but I got such horrible repeated ear infections that I had to quit.

4. I've never seen several movies that seem to shock people, such as Star Wars, The Godfather, Goonies

5. I'm definitely an "oldest child"

6. While I enjoy writing, I'm terrible at correspondence.

7. I had to get bifocals this year. I'm 31.

8. Other than the mortgage, we should be debt free in 2015.

9. I'm a terrible morning person. I used to be a night owl, but now I love to go to bed around 9. What does that make me....a midday person?

10. I can remember specific things from a meeting a year ago, or full movie monologues, but I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday or what I'm supposed to be doing tomorrow. If it isn't on my calendar, it doesn't exist.

11. I love my cat and dog, but I don't think I'm an "animal person." I'm also not sure that I'll get more pets later in would be nice not to have pet hair all over everything all the time.

Questions answered:

1. How important is your blog to you in the big picture of life?
 Minimal to medium. I enjoy it, or I wouldn't do it. But it's firmly a hobby for me. I appreciate it for keeping record of what I'm working on, and getting to know people. I never want to think up projects or whatever "for the blog."
2. What are the things that help you relax most?

Knitting, yoga, wine, naps. Quiet time is very important to me.

3. How much do you agree to the saying “If you are good at doing something, you shouldn’t do it for free”, especially related to your favorite craft/hobby/passion ?
I disagree. I'm not saying to give everything away for free, but money isn't everything.
4. What are 2-3 things you are most proud of, in regards to your favorite craft/hobby/passion? If you have posts/pictures, please add those.
I'm pretty darn proud of the chair I reupholstered, imperfections and all. (Ok, the imperfections totally bother me.)

I'm also going to be pretty proud of this dress when it's finished. Beyond the image below, I've attached the sleeves and have the front flap complete and part of the yoke. It's also imperfect, but it doesn't bother me as much. Growth?

5. Do you ever get presents from friends or relatives related to  your favorite craft/hobby/passion?

Yes! Most recently I got the Knit Kit because my husband felt bad for how I was always fumbling for my scissors or darning needle. (That's an affiliate link. It's something I'm trying out)
6. Do you like sports? Which kinds?
Eh, not really. I don't mind the occasional baseball game or superbowl party with friends, but there is nothing I follow. I'm fairly entertained by the fights at hockey games. Are there no rules at all?
7. Do your ever dream (in sleep) about your hobby?
Not that I recall
8. Do you have a favorite dish? What is it?
Tomato soup + grilled cheese is my comfort food.
9. What things do you prefer visually? (Any given colour? Bright multi-colour patterns? Simple patterns? Busy patterns? Any particular style – e.g. steam punk, oriental, baroque?) Be as general or as specific as you like.
Simple, neutral, geometric for sure. I appreciate the rustic, collected look, but I can't pull it off yet.
10. What are your goals for the next few years, related to your favorite craft/hobby/passion? Do you have any?
I suppose continuing to grow and develop new skills. I'd love to do something with colorwork, like one of those scandanavian stranded sweaters that look adorable on kids. Cables are on my short list too.
11. Are you a process or end-result oriented?
Both, but halfway through the process I usually get pretty antsy for the finished product.

Questions for others:

1. Hot or cold weather?

2. Dream job?

3. Skill you are totally jealous of?

4. What is your guilty pleasure indulgence?

5. Proudest accomplishment?

6. Favorite place?

7. Drink of choice?

8. Describe your current home

9. Describe your dream home

10. What do you pretend to like because you should, but actually don't?

11. What does your life look like in 3 years?

Phew....that was a lot harder than I thought it would be! So I now nominate:

And hey, I got to 11! But I'll still take write in self-nominations. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maybe I have a plan!

I initially opened my Etsy shop in November of 2012 because I had started making some knit hats for a few people, and it seemed like an easier way to transfer money on their end than to just go through straight paypal. I went ahead and made a few listings, both those hats that I'd made for them and one or two things that I'd made for myself and loved. My idea was that I enjoyed knitting, and this would be a fun way to support my doing my hobby! My "business model" was not to kill myself by making a bunch of stock that I'd have to front money for and keep on hand, but that I could just knit a sample for photographing and listing, and then make subsequent items as people ordered them. I considered the fact that I had any sales at all before Christmas - and from outside that initial group of people! - to be a huge success.

Life happened a few months later, and I took an extended hiatus from the shop. At the end of last summer, I just had this urge to be creative again. I started small, by writing and doing some personal projects. It didn't take long, but I ended up re-opening my shop just a few weeks later. Same idea, no real stock, just make orders as they come. Surprising me again, some orders did come! Throughout the holidays last year, my busy season, I enjoyed what I was doing, but didn't really have a plan. I've never really had one for either the shop or this blog. But gradually, I felt like I could get a lot more done if I just thought a little ahead, put it down on paper.

I was listening to one of my new very favorite podcasts (Elise Gets Crafty) and they were talking about the importance of being consistent if you want people to tune in. Well, duh. You'll obviously get a lot more people reading if you both a) show up on some sort of reliable schedule and b) build up a backlog of posts that people might start finding you through search engines. I thought, well, that sounds like something I could do, blog more consistently. I'm definitely not going to set myself up for failure by making a grand declaration of blogging, but maybe a routine might make sense.

Then, despite how fan-girly this is starting to sound, I read one of Elise's recent posts and she highlighted one of the ways she likes to stay organized. This reminded me of the sketchbooks I used to have during college, and the meticulously organized daily planners I'd toted around in high school and beyond. Despite how I love my iPhone and use technology daily to stay organized....there's just something about physically writing things down that makes them so much clearer for me, more memorable.

So, I started writing. And because sometimes the blank pages of a fresh notebook make me feel a bit uncertain, like I'm going to mess it up if I don't plan out what I want to say, I told myself to just start. It doesn't really matter, just start.

I've done a little blog organization. I thought about the things I've written about most, and went back through old posts to properly tag them. If you're on my home page, these links, along with the search box, are at the bottom of the page. I've even managed to finally write something in my "about me" page. I had a really hard time with that! I've chosen to be somewhat anonymous online, so I didn't want to go all out with my life story, but at the same time I wanted to give enough detail to describe the person behind the blog. I started about a dozen times, and fully rewrote it about half that many, so hopefully I've struck a decent balance.

I laid out a plan and a calendar to prepare for next year's (hopefully) busy season. This way I can track my efforts to pre-make some of my more popular items over the summer to take some of the pressure off of next holiday season. I've also started jotting down the to-do lists and ideas that keep my mind racing during wee morning hours. Top of the list, oh I can't wait to do that one! Since I do most of my shop work in the night time hours, I just don't have the lovely light that most Etsy-ers seem to have for their product listings. Once the basement is finished, I still won't have sunlight, but I'll have a space to set up some lights and hopefully take some halfway decent product photos! It's also highly probable that I simply don't have the skills that many other Etsy artisans do, but hopefully I can take what I've learned in the couple photography classes I've taken and not completely embarrass myself.

Finally, I've laid out a loose blogging schedule for myself. Yet again, in a rather timely, sort of getting weird kind of way, last week Elise blogged about, well, blogging. The gist of her post is that it's important to write things you feel passionate about. You really can't fake authenticity, and if you're writing just to get a post up, it's going to show. Just like it's boring to read something that feels forced, it's boring to write. Part of the reason I post somewhat infrequently is because I only want to write when I have something to say. I've found though, that just by outlining a schedule for myself, I think that I might have enough to say to check in twice a week. So tentatively, I think Tuesdays and Thursdays sound like decently achievable days to commit to. I hope that I can keep it interesting by varying topics by those categories I identified.

So I definitely don't have any sort of plan to quit my job and knit or blog for a living, but I feel good giving myself a bit of direction.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Likely if you're savvy enough to be reading blogs right now, you know about Pinterest. While I'm definitely not one of those users who sets (or even follows many) trends and has thousands of pins or followers, I still totally love Pinterest. I created my personal account way back in 2010 when you had to get an invitation or get on a waiting list to get an account. I loved it for the simple fact that you could visually tag websites and it would lead you right back to the full how-to, or where to buy, or what was that thing I loved? Pre-Pinterest, I was always saving lists of bookmarked websites which later made no sense because they weren't neatly categorized, or saving images with no idea where they came from, or even trying to put web addresses in the names of the images so I could go back was sort of a mess. So when this super simple layout and tagging system came along, I was ALL for it.

So yesterday when I was referencing something I'd pinned, a little thing popped up for "Pinterest for Business." And I was intrigued. Lately I've been pinning a bunch of tutorials about how to improve my photography - I'm actually in the middle of a three week course through my alma mater right now that I might get around to recapping sometime - and I thought, well, that would make a lot of sense to file under "business." It would also be a perfect place to pin all of the listings from my shop so that one of those taste-makers can find me, pin me, go viral, get orders from celebrities, get famous, retire early lol. You know, the usual.

I set about creating a few boards that really spoke to where I am right now as an Etsy shop owner: pins of my listings, a board I created about craft fair booth set up, nuts and bolts of photography, props and things to complement my hopefully soon-to-be-improved photography skills, and research for new ideas to develop for my shop in the knits off season this spring.

So if you're interested into a little peek like that into the brain of a shop owner, you can follow me here: I already followed a few of my favorite people yesterday, so some of you will find that familiar! I'll still have my personal boards where I'll pin all the usual stuff like what in the world to make for dinner, and how to make my yard look less junky, but I'm aiming to keep all the shop stuff together here. You can also theoretically follow me from the button on my sidebar, provided I set it up properly. Even though I checked it....I never can quite tell!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pumpkin Head Halloween Costume

In case you missed me over at Delightfully Noted for her Wicked Craft's a repost of my Halloween costume crafting.

Halloween is one of my favorite, favorite times of year. I looove the turning of the season, the chill in the air, sweaters, scarves, campfires, pumpkin....everything! While I'm a big fan of the pumpkin spice lattes, I'm actually here to talk about the pumpkin as the classic Halloween costume. It's pretty special to me as that FIRST Halloween costume for a couple of reasons. My mom made almost all of my Halloween costumes over the years, and I so love that memory. And the first costume of all of them was a pumpkin head! I could have actually used that same costume, but it's important to me to start that tradition all over again for my family. We can always use the original for playing dress up!

My mom taught me to sew in high school, and though I've been doing it for quite a while, I'm definitely no expert! This isn't necessarily a step-by-step how-to for that reason, but whenever I find myself stuck or having problems, I love looking to Make It & Love It for super clear and helpful tutorials.

When I'm sewing more than a hem or something simple like a rectangular pillow, I turn to patterns. I like the Simplicity brand because, well, they're pretty simple! They're good for beginners because they don't typically have a lot of complex steps or advanced stitches. I also tend to avoid things with buttons and zippers if I don't want to have a headache later! In this case I did some research ahead of my trip to the fabric store (I went to Joann's). Basically you just check the back of the pattern envelope and look at the options for your chosen pattern (they usually come with several related patterns per envelope - here I was following "D") and look under "Notions." Elastic and velcro are pretty easy, but I personally steer clear if buttons or zippers are listed! This envelope will also tell you how much fabric you need to buy. I like to buy a little extra to make sure that I don't come up short after pre-shrinking it in the wash - that's VERY annoying!

So gather up all of your materials.

The orange fleece doesn't matter so much because it doesn't fray, but the black cotton I wanted to use for the face will. It helps if you clip the corners on a diagonal before washing because it will help limit any fraying.

There's a white sheet of directions included along with tissue paper sheets that have all the pattern outlines. Here again you just look for the letter (D) of the pattern you are making, and it tells you which of the pattern outlines you'll want to cut out. It also gives you a layout that will help you maximize your fabric. The tissue sheets will also tell you what they are for specifically. I thought the hat looked pretty silly, and I had a different idea for underclothes other than the jumpsuit, so I opted not to make them. This means I didn't need to cut out the pieces associated with those parts of the costume. To me, this is part of the beauty of DIY-ing rather than just buying a whole outfit - it just seems easier to personalize it!

Gather up your materials. For me the most important things other than a work surface and sewing machine, etc. are the wine and junky shows streaming on Netflix. That's old school "Charmed" in the background! Way more seasons than I remember. :)

From here the pattern instructions will pretty much tell you what to do. Which, well, obviously.

This doesn't mean I don't deviate from time to time. I was supposed to use fusible interfacing for the, uh, face of the pumpkin. Basically you iron this sheet of paper onto the fabric that you want to turn into an applique, which is a fancy word for sticker as far as I can tell. Then you peel off the paper which exposes a sort of blue, and you iron them onto your fabric using a damp cloth. Why damp cloth, I have no idea, but since I don't usually use this stuff I went with it.

It looked super cute, but because I was trying to get the face to stick to the sort of nubby texture of the fleece, I didn't really trust the interfacing. The corners seemed a little loose to me, so I ended up stitching along the edges anyway. I suppose that's fine because the interfacing held it in place nicely while I sewed. If I had used just pins I'm sure it would have slipped all around, so in hindsight maybe that worked out well!

The one other thing I did a little differently was right at the end when you turn everything right side out, rather than just stitch it closed as they directed, I opted to add some stuffing. I wanted to make sure my little pumpkin was nice and round!

After the finishing touches, here is the finished product!

I found some cute striped leggings at the Carter's outlet that look just perfect, and I will top it off with a cute knit pumpkin head hat!

So that's my method for homemade costumes! It's definitely not perfect, but I hope that my little one will have the same great memories of wearing costumes made with love like I do.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin Link Party?


I'm going to go ahead and admit that despite being a reader of blogs for many years, and a writer of blogs for fewer but still multiple years....I totally do NOT understand these "linky parties." I see them pop up from time to time in my reader, and I mostly do the confused dog head tilt thing (you know what I'm talking about), go huh, and move on.

Despite that, I saw one this week on NewlyWoodwards (one of my long time fave blogs) that actually related to something I'd written this week - my pumpkin head costume guest post, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Sooo....I guess I'm in? (and maybe someone can explain to me what exactly I'm "in"?)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Guest Posting at Delightfully Noted!

Yikes, it's my very first guest post! Won't you come visit me over at Delightfully Noted? I'm sharing where I ended up after outlining my plans for a classic Halloween costume here.

(I love the graphics Jennifer added - very Pinterest-ey!)

Linked up to the Newlywoodwards Pumpkin Parade

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wicked Craft Week

A whole week of crafts....which means a whole week of posts AND new ideas....which means you probably won't find that kind of commitment here! You WILL find it though over at Delightfully Noted! 

And while I can't quite manage a whole week of fresh content, I CAN do one day. And look - there's me on deck for Wednesday's post! I hope you'll come check me out, along with everyone offering up something for Wicked Craft Week. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where is this all going?

Some days I ask myself, why am I blogging? Most of the time, I find myself stumped for something to say. You see, I'm an incredibly private person, so I feel like I've boxed myself in with personal restrictions on what I will and will not put out there on the interwebz. I like sharing projects, or things I've created...but often I will write a post and decide against publishing it because it's too personal. Ironically I LOVE reading personal blogs, but I just don't want to put too much of myself out there where any old person can see it. So, when I don't have a finished project to show off, or a plan for what I'm going to do next, I wonder what's the point of even having this blog? I toy with just taking the whole thing down, or making it private so I decide who can see it. ...The thing that stops me from taking it down altogether is that I do like having a little log of what I've been doing. I have a crap memory for my own life - I can remember lyrics and movie lines like no one's business, but what I did last week? Yeah, that's gone. I've also gotten to know some really awesome people, like the very fun and cool Sara (who I need to meet up with again and visit her mansion!), and I've liked trading comments with Kim, Delaney, and Kasey, and I'd be a little sad to not connect with them anymore.  Well, at least not a two way connection - I'm not giving up reading and commenting on these and my other favorite blogs!

So, currently I'm thinking I'll go private. Leave me a comment or send me an email if you'd like to keep up with my blog. I can't say for sure, but I think that an added privacy barrier might actually make me a better blogger. If I know who's reading, I think I'll feel more comfortable writing more about my life. Tentatively I'll be making the change early next week - so let me know before then and I'll add you to my reader invite list!