Friday, September 30, 2011

Blog posts direct to Twitter - a success!

Yesterday, I found a very useful post on Crafty Mummy's blog:


In it, she talks about her checklist of things she does after she writes a post.
On her share list - she mentioned that her posts are automatically set to be published on Twitter!


As you can imagine - having just set up my Twitter account and currently trying to figure out how to use it - I followed her instructions to set this up to try.

  •  Click on My Account at the top of your page (in Blogger - not sure if it's the same in Wordpress or others)
  • Click on Feedburner, and your feed title (title of your blog)
  • Then click on the tab that says Publicize
  • Then 'Socialise' at the left side
  • Add your twitter account - then activate it at the bottom of that page
  • Voila - you're done!
Now all my posts automatically get tweeted on my twitter account.

This morning my post calling for guest post tutorials was automatically 'tweeted'. Then within minutes - one of my lovely (14) followers on twitter replied and we chatted and orgainsed for her to do a guest post on my blog - instantly right there on twitter!!!

I have to say I was REALLY excited that I used Twitter to organise something!! 

Yippee for small successes and enjoying every one of them! Every small win motivates me onwards and makes me imagine bigger bigger wins and successes in the future!

Do you enjoy your small achievements and successes?

Are your posts set to automatically feed to your Twitter account?




Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pinterest

I've finally got myself a pinterest account!


I've seen it mentioned all over the place, and also noticed that I've had some traffic to my blog from people pinning my things! Which is very flattering!

Anyway - I realised this week how useful Pinterest could be!  When I'm browsing around blogs and websites and see something I like and want to remember - I generally stick it in favourites on my computer toolbar.  As a result, I now have HUGE lists in favourites - which unfortunately get forgotten.  I also made notes of things I want to make, or sites I want to revisit in my paper diary - or worse still on scrap bits of paper.

My husband is always telling me that I need to learn to use the computer more instead of using pencil and paper for my lists and plans etc, so all of this got me thinking, and that this is exactly what Pinterest is for!

I know, I know, I'm a bit slow on the uptake and it seems that most people have realised this long before me!

Anyway - I've set up my account and have just been pinning some of the things I had in my favourites. The only folder I've set up so far is "things I want to make".  I'm hoping now that having these things in one place - with photos, that I'll get around to making them!
I should at least be reminded of them more often as I'll browse through them when I 'pin' new things!

I see that you can follow people on pinterest and see what things inspire them too!  I think this is a brilliant way to discover more great ideas and get more inspiration!

So if you're on pinterest yourself then feel free to:


Follow Me on Pinterest 

And let me know so I can follow you back!

I feel like a kid with a new toy!  It's like browsing through a new glossy magazine of all the things I love!


How to make an iPod/MP3 player holder for exercising in 5 steps and 15 mins





A lot of people like to listen to their music when exercising. 
I've seen some fancy armband holders for them  - but there's no need to buy one if you have an old t-shirt! Why not make your own - for free!



Here's how in 5 simple steps and no more than 15 mins!

1. Take an old t-shirt or knit fabric top, scissors and a tape measure

2. Measure around your upper arm:


And the length of your iPod or MP3 player plus 3 cm (1.2") on either side.

3. Cut a piece of t-shirt material,
Width = same as the measurement around your arm
Height = 2 x the measurement you took of your iPod/MP3 player

If you cut from the bottom hem of the t-shirt then that side is already finished!

4. Turn and stitch the other long end (opposite the hem) to neaten

Then fold the rectangle in half - right sides together and unfinished raw edges together.
Pin and stitch.





5. Turn the tube you have made right side out:

Then push half the tube up inside itself to form a pocket for your music player


Slide up onto your arm, pop in your music player and get started on your workout!!


You could even make different colours to suit your workout clothes!!



For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.


For more easy sewing tutorials of
5 steps in just 15 mins - click here!

And for 600+ more clothes upcycling projects go here.





Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Facebook and Twitter - do you use both?


This red lily bloomed in our garden this week.  I love this flower - but it's the only one we have. It only flowers once every two years, so I wanted to share it!


But this flower has nothing to do with the topic of this post (sorry!).  Let me get to that!

I'm slowly beginning to use Facebook more - and this week I even 'tweeted' a few times!
Ok ok, so I'm a bit behind the times. I don't have an iPhone and don't regularly use social media.
However through my blog I'm starting to see how they are something I really want to start making more of.

I think in life, we have different circles of friends. Those who share different interest with us. For example we may have friends who also have kids the same age as our own, and spend time with them doing family activities.  Then there may be the friends we go to the gym with, or perhaps a book club where we meet with a group of people to discuss what we're reading.

For me - the more I get into my blog and sewing, the more I realise that my circle of friends who share these interests are online and scattered all over the world, and facebook and twitter are how to keep in touch with them and get to know them more.  I love that I've found people who share my interests and can appreciate me getting excited about something I've sewn - or when I've discovered how to tweak a tiny bit of my blog by learning a piece of html code.


I do tell my other friends about my successes - and try to show them things I've made - but they're only interested in as far as it's mine - they're not into sewing or blogging.  As these elements become increasingly important in my life - and become what I want to make something of in terms of a business or 'job' , I'm wanting more and more to connect with like-minded people and share my experiences.


As I use social media more - it poses this question for me - why have both a facebook and twitter account?   Do most people use either one or the other?  I see you can connect your facebook and twitter accounts. But why do that and not just use one or the other?

Is it simply because some of your friends may use one but not the other - so it's a way to communicate with everyone at once?


Of course I've read lots about the advantages of social media sites in promoting your blog and for marketing purposes.  Naturally as I want to grow my blog into a profitable business, I want to be able to do this.  I was recently reading an article from the Traffic Generation Cafe about how to get traffic from Twitter.  It was interesting reading how there is a limit on Twitter as to the number of people you can follow in relation to the number of people following you.  Apparently you can get banned from twitter for following too many people!!  Who knew!

You can follow up to 2000 people with no problems, but then once you go over that, you can follow only 10% more than your number of followers!

Now since I'm only following 37 people, I'm not likely to have this problem - nor do I want to.  I can't bring myself to randomly follow hundreds of people on twitter who I don't know, even if they do have similar interests to me.  Maybe in time my circle will grow that big - but hopefully it will be of people who are genuinely interested in each other.  Or is this naive of me?

Does this mean I'm not ruthless enough - or focussed enough perhaps on making my hobby a business?  How can I keep it all personal and grow my blog massively to a profitable size at the same time?  I'm doing this because I love it - but I know I have to push the boundaries and go beyond my comfort zone to turn my hobby into a business.

However - I think it's important to keep on enjoying what I do - and not get too caught up in statistics,  followers and the like. 

As with everything in life - it's all about finding the right balance!



And finding the fun and enjoyment of every aspect of what I'm doing!


How about you? Do you use facebook and twitter? One or the other or both?  And how do you use it?

What are your thoughts on pushing to build your list of followers to help promote your business or website?

I'd love to know your thoughts and experiences!




Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Learning HTML

In my quest to grow my blog and make it into a profitable business that I can run from home, I have decided to learn some html.
As I've been learning more about my blog - particularly the presentation, I've found myself learning small snippets of html to 'tweak' the templates that you get on blogger.

For example I learnt recently how to add borders to the photos in my posts by just changing a small part of the html for each photo.


And just this last week - how to make a photo gallery page using html code.

So I thought it was time to put a bit more structure into my knowledge since websites is the area I've chosen to pursue as a 'business'.

I did a search and found that there are several free online html courses, so this is my starting point.

The one I've chosen to start with is:


My plan is to take a lesson a day and to try to implement and really use what I'm learning to try and get the most out of the course and hopefully improve my blog in the process.
Today I just looked at the introduction and lesson 1, In which I learned what html actually stands for:

H = Hyper
T = Text
M = Mark up
L = Language

I also learned that your webpages may look different in different browsers.  I have Internet Explorer and Google Chrome myself, but not Firefox.  My website looks the same in both of my browsers, but I wonder if there are any differences in Firefox?

How about you?  Have you learnt any html to help with your website design?  Or do you just use the templates provided with blogger or another webhost?

Does anyone have an html course to recommend?
I'd love to hear from anyone who has done one of these courses and what your thoughts were on it!

As I work through the course - I will be sure to post about what I'm learning!


More Pencil and Notebook folders and PDF tutorials revamped

This week I've been making a couple of my Pencil and Notebook folders for upcoming boys birthdays.
I found the V8 cars and comic strip fabric in the charity shop and couldn't resist!

The front of the folders:


And the back:

One with a plain inside:

And the other with more comic strips on the inside:

It's tricky to handmade a gift for boys turning 9, but I think these will be ok!


Now I was recently asked for conversions of the measurements on my Pencil and Notebook folder tutorial, so I've been doing a little revamping!

All the tutorials for which I have made PDF downloadable versions available I have now added measurements in inches as well as cm, and I've published them all on Google docs - so it's a simple click away to download them (for free of course) onto your computer!

The link is on each post: here are the ones available as PDF's:
(Click on the photos to go to the post)

Pencil and Notebook Folders
Pencil and Notebook Folders

Insulated Lunch Bag
Insulated Lunch Bag

Bed Pockets
Bed Pockets

Jewellery Bags
Jewellery Bags





Hanging Hair Tie Holder
Hanging Hair Tie Holder

Furry Animal Backpacks
Furry Animal Backpacks

Fabric Pie or Pizza Box
Fabric Pie or Pizza Box

Pencil Case
Pencil Case



So that's some of my housekeeping done (or should that be blogkeeping?)

If anyone has any more requests or suggestions for tutorials or indeed any part of my blog then do please ask! I'm always looking for ways to improve my work!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Creating a gallery of pictures on your blog

For a while now I've looked enviously at other people's blogs who have a nice neat gallery of pictures with clickable links on their blogs.  That is exactly what I wanted to do for my tutorials page - so I decided that it was time to stop admiring and do something about it!

I'd had a look around on Google - and found a couple of tutorials on how to create a table in html, but then stumbled across this brilliant blog which made it all very simple for me!

The fabulous Tricia at Sweeter than Sweets has posted a very simple and easy to use how-to on her blog right here.
She basically gives you the html code with the parts colour coded and labelled where you copy and paste in your photos, links and write your labels!  What could be simpler!!

Here's what it can do..



Insulated Lunch Bags
Insulated Lunch Bags

Bed Pockets
Bed Pockets

Pencil and Notebook Folders
Pencil and Notebook Folders

Jewellery Bags
Drawstring Jewellery Bags


Pretty cool hey?? Each picture is a clickable link that opens in a new page!- go ahead - try one!
 
One thing I did manage to struggle with, was adding more than 4 photos.  The html she gives has 4 clear sections which to me looked all the same - so I tried just copying and pasting one of these again and again at the end to add more photos - but this gave me a long string of photos all in a line - not a table, so they ran all across my sidebar and off the page!!
 
So, if you want to add more than just 4 - then copy and paste the WHOLE html code again under the first lot - and repeat for each row of 4 pictures! Very simple!
 
 
So thank you SOOO much Tricia for providing this html for us to use!

Go and see my new look Tutorial's page!
 
 
And do go and check out Tricia's Gallery too!
http://howsweeteritis.blogspot.com/p/gallery.html



Have you learnt how to do any fancy new layouts for your blog lately? Do you have any great how-tos or links to share?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wonderful holiday in Bali

I've almost been back home for a week now and I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things after a fabulous 2 weeks relaxing with my family in Bali.

I thought I'd just share a few pictures with you !

Of our hotel pool:



Tanah- Lot temple at the beach:



One of the carved fruit decorations at the breakfast buffet:

(Maybe even a match for Suzy's talent for fruit carving??)


Painted flowers on our nails:




Waterbom park - with lots of scary slides which the kids (and us) loved!




And one of my favourite parts of the holiday - sunsets on the beach:


A great holiday - but also good to come home too!




Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laura's Dream - epilogue

Laura's Dream
epilogue


“How does a trip to Australia sound?”  Sean’s voice boomed into the hallway as he opened the front door.
Four sets of footsteps came pounding towards him from various rooms in the house, both upstairs and downstairs, “Daddy!  Daddy!” they all cried together as they jumped up onto him to welcome him home.  He gently lowered them to the floor, then hugged and kissed each in turn.
“Are we going to Australia?” asked Ben, the eldest boy, who at six was already tall and just like a miniature Sean, with the same dark wavy hair, and striking black eyes.
“As long as your mother agrees!” Sean said, beaming at the sight of Laura walking towards him from the large rumpus room off to the left of the hallway.  He never tired of looking at her. Carrying four children seemed to have had no effect on her perfectly athletic body which remained impossibly toned, right down to the flat stomach that was the envy of the many friends she had made through various mother’s groups.
“Hello darling” she said as she kissed him lingeringly on the lips.  “Australia sounds like fun!  We haven’t had a holiday for a while, when are we going?”
“Yippee!!  Shouted the twins, Joe and Brendan, jumping up and down, their small fists punching the air in excitement.
“And what about you, Samantha?” Sean said as he swung their youngest child up onto his hip.
“’stralia” she said giggling in delight as her Daddy tickled her sides making her squirm in his arms.
“Well that’s settled then, I’ll get all the flights arranged, we go next week.  I’ve found a promising little hotel we can have a look at Laura,” Sean said loosening his tie.
Laura smiled at her husband, thinking how their lives and dreams were now enmeshed tightly together.  At first she had been reluctant to voice her opinions about the many projects Sean took on through his company, but with his encouragement and frank approval of her thoughts and ideas, they had slowly become a formidable team when it came to spotting potential and planning developments.  
Sean now passed on most of the projects to various other trusted staff members, choosing only the best locations and opportunities to attend to personally, and involve his growing family in.  Just four months after their meeting in Spain, Sean and Laura had been married, in a small intimate ceremony on a South American beach, with their honeymoon spent exploring the magnificent and fascinating Mayan ruins dotted through various countries including Mexico and Guatemala.
Nine months after their wedding, Benjamin had come along, and their jet-setting lifestyle was slowed down somewhat.  They had moved into Sean’s family home in Niagara Falls and Laura had soon added her own touches to the magnificent house and gardens.  They now spent most of their lives at home, but twice a year they went on extravagant holidays, combining a work project with fun and sightseeing for all the family, lavishing plenty of love and affection on their children, and each other.
“I’ll start getting things organised straight away!” Laura replied, her eyes lighting up at the thought of another adventure. “We may be away for a while, Australia is an awfully big country you know!” She said turning to walk back into the rumpus room, where they would relax for a while, relating tales to each other of everyone’s day, before enjoying the last of the summer warmth with a large barbeque dinner outside on the patio.
Laura watched as Sean sat down with their children on the deep pile rug that filled the floor space of the huge room.  She thought about how full and rich her life was, grateful for all that they had and shared, and also grateful that they still all had dreams, which they shared together.  She smiled and sat down on the rug to join her family, her eyes catching Sean’s and feeling the thrill of attraction that had not dimmed at all over the years, and she knew it never would.
THE END


I do hope you have enjoyed reading this story!
I arrive back from my holiday today so I am looking forward to reading any comments  - including if you would like to read more of my romance stories!!
Thank you for reading!
I hope you will continue to visit my blog!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Laura's Dream - chapter seventeen

Laura's Dream
chapter seventeen

Laura finally returned to her apartment, satisfied she was ready to leave.  After she had left the bakers shop she had bumped into a group of the children she taught.  They were not due to have another lesson until the next week, and she felt grateful for the chance to say goodbye.  When she explained that she was leaving with Mr Fenton, the children’s faces lit up.  She knew he had made a lasting impression on the children and they would remember him fondly.  In saying goodbye to them herself, there were a few tears, but  it was a happy goodbye nonetheless, the children excited at the prospect of attending a real English school, and they were satisfied with Laura’s reassurances that they would have a wonderful new teacher.
Collecting her bags, Laura dropped the key to her apartment off, then stepped into the taxi she had called to take her to the hotel, where she would begin her new life!
When she arrived at the hotel, the taxi driver helped her take her bags into the foyer, where she looked around wondering if Sean was still in his suite.  She looked at her watch and saw that she was still couple of minutes early, so she went to sit down on a nearby sofa.  Laura sat for a few minutes staring out of the large glass wall that looked out to sea.  She would miss this beach she thought, it really was beautiful, but then again, she would no doubt be seeing lots of beautiful places soon. 
Laura looked at her watch again and saw to her surprise that it was a few minutes after four thirty.  Sean had said this morning that she had to be on time so they could get to the airport for their flight.  She searched the hotel lobby but saw no sign of Sean, so she decided to ask at the reception desk.  The lady working was still Marie, the blond who did not seem to like Laura much.  Laura sighed and walked up to her and smiling asked if she could call Sean Fenton’s room.
Marie looked at her with false sympathy. “Mr Fenton checked out about an hour ago.”
Laura’s whole body seemed to freeze, and she had to force herself to breathe. What did she mean he had checked out?  Maybe he was waiting for her outside?  Panic began to creep up Laura’s throat as she stammered, “B..b..but he hasn’t left the hotel yet, has he?
The receptionist regarded her slowly, before seeming to decide to tell Laura something.  Laura frowned and said, “What is it? Did he leave me a message? I’m taking a flight with him in a couple of hours.”  The words were spilling out of her now and she knew she was beginning to sound desperate.   What could possibly have happened?  She really didn’t know what to think, “Please!” she begged, “tell me what’s going on!”
Maria sighed and rolled her eyes as if speaking to Laura was a task she could do without. “Mr Fenton asked to use a car this afternoon, something about going to pick someone up with their luggage?“ she looked pointedly at Laura’s two bags sitting on the lobby floor.  Laura’s stomach lurched.   Sean had come to collect her from her apartment? But then where was he now?  Her heart was thumping so loudly and the blood rushing in her ears, Laura could barely hear the next words Marie said.
“He came back in a very bad mood, asked me to cancel the second plane ticket I had booked for him this morning, saying it was no longer needed, then he asked for his bags to be brought down, and he left for the airport.  He didn’t look very happy at all!” she added, totally unnecessarily.
Laura’s knees buckled under her and a cry escaped from her lips as she realised that Sean was gone.  If he had come to collect her, then he must have seen her say goodbye to Fernando and thought.. oh who knows what he had thought, but it was clearly bad enough to make him leave without her!  Laura felt sick. She held onto the reception desk, her knuckles turning white she was gripping it so hard.
“A..are you alright?” Marie asked, looking nervously at Laura’s pale face.
Laura looked up at her, and something snapped inside, “No I am not” she said slowly and deliberately. “There has been a terrible misunderstanding and I need to get to the airport right away,“ she said through gritted teeth.  Maybe she could get to the airport and catch Sean before his flight, then she would have a chance to explain.  She hadn’t told Sean about Fernando, she thought belatedly.  But really there had been nothing to tell, why would she of?   To avoid a reaction like this she thought, answering her own question.
“If you go out the front there will be a taxi there you can take,” Marie said, her voice softening slightly.
“Thank you,” Laura replied and walked over to her bags, picking them up by the side handles and wheeling them outside again where she climbed into the first taxi and asked to go to the airport.  Fast.
As she sat in the back of the taxi watching the town fade behind her as they drove out towards the airport, Laura fidgeted nervously.   Why hadn’t she just mentioned Fernando to Sean?  Then none of this would have happened, he would have known there was nothing between her and Fernando, and right now they would be going to the airport together, instead of her chasing him, hoping she wasn’t too late.  The drive seemed to take an eternity, just over an hour in fact, the town not being big enough for its own airport, they had to drive to the next town.  When she finally arrived, Laura grabbed her bags and ran as fast as she could while dragging them up to the check in counter.
“Am I too late for the flight to Athens?” Laura asked, her eyes wide with hope, her heart trying to beat its way out of her chest.
“Athens” the check-in lady said as she scanned her computer. “Ah yes, that flight leaves in...just ten minutes, I’m afraid boarding is complete now, the flight is closed.
“No!!” Laura yelled, causing several people to turn and stare at her.  “Can’t I just..” she asked , her eyes pleading for one last chance to reach Sean.
“I’m sorry Senorita, the flight is closed,” the lady repeated once more.  The words seeming to bounce around in Laura’s head repeating themselves over and over again.  She remained motionless, not knowing what to do, or where to go.  This could not, should not be happening! 
Someone tapped her on the shoulder, “Er, excuse me, but are you checking in, there are a lot of people waiting you know.”
Laura turned and saw the rapidly growing queue forming behind her, “I’m sorry” she said, and picking up her bags again, she wheeled them away from the desk.  When she reached a row of chairs, she sank into them and put her head in her hands. She felt totally and utterly drained.  The emotional rollercoaster of the past four days, especially the unbelievable high of the past 24 hours, when Laura felt she had finally broken free from her own restricting version of life, had left her with nothing more.  She had no tears, nothing.  She simply felt lost.  She looked up and out of the window ahead to the sound of a plane taking off.  She felt like an icicle had been driven through her heart as she wondered if that was the plane to Athens, was Sean on that plane?  Flying away from her, forever?  Leaving her with what? She thought.  She had now left her life here in Spain, she had nothing, nobody.  The enormity of her situation threatened to engulf Laura.  But the fact that depressed her more than anything, was that Sean was no longer there.  To be without a job, a house, was difficult, but they could be replaced.  She feared that there was no way she could ever replace Sean and the void she felt he had left in her.  She sat and stared out of the window, her mind shutting down rather than deal with another loss which to Laura seemed to be as big as the loss she felt four years earlier.  What was she to do now?

Laura didn’t know how long she sat like that, but she was brought back to the present by the touch of someone’s hand on her shoulder.  It was almost as if she had turned to ice, and this touch was breathing warmth slowly back into her body.  Laura breathed in as if to wake herself up and smelled a rich exotic scent that sent immediate shivers through her.  It couldn’t be.  Could it?  She turned and looked up, to see Sean standing behind her.
“Sean!” Laura cried in disbelief.  “But the plane, Athens, you were, it’s gone,“ she said all at once as she stood up and turned to face him, all kinds of crazy emotions running riot in her head now as she struggled to know whether to fling her arms around him and kiss him, or fall to her knees and beg his forgiveness for not telling him about Fernando.
“Laura,” Sean said, using the Spanish pronunciation again, as he had consistently for the past four days, the sound of her name on his tongue making her whole body tense with anticipation. “
“I thought you were gone,” Laura said quietly, drinking in the sight of him, proving to herself that he was really standing here before her.
“So did I Laura.  I saw you with that other man, and I just went crazy,” Sean said, his black eyes searching her face.
“Sean, he’s nothing. He’s..” Laura tried to explain, but Sean held his finger to her lips to stop her.
“I know Laura.  Once I calmed down I realised that there wasn’t anyone else.  Like I said yesterday, when you aren’t with me, it’s like a piece of me is missing.  I just couldn’t get on that plane.  Trying to leave you Laura, made me realise the truth.” He now looked at her with such honesty and intensity, Laura felt tears welling in her eyes.  “My work is not the most important thing in my life.  You are.  I love you, Laura.”
Now Laura did not hesitate, she put her arms up to his face and pulled him towards her so that she could kiss him thoroughly.  When they parted, she looked at him and said, “I love you too Sean.  I know what my dream is now,“ she added.
“What’s that?” asked Sean smiling.
“Isn’t it obvious?” asked Laura returning his smile, “to share my life with you!” she said, and once again they fell into a kiss that made them forget where they were, and all the people around them who were smiling and even applauding their open declaration of love!

The story concludes tomorrow.....