Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How To Disable The New Two-Word Verification In Blogger

I don't know if you noticed but Blogger installed a brand new two-word verification on all Blogspot blogs lately. Yip. EE. I don't know when it happened exactly but I DO NOT like it. Funny thing is, I had disabled word-verification eons ago but upon further investigation, I noticed that it had been RE-enabled without my consent. How did that happen, I wonder... The only thing I can think of is maybe when Blogger made recent changes to the comments section, they must have reset it to the default setting or something... Who knows. I don't pretend to understand the collective mind of Blogger.

In any case, I re-disabled the word-verification. So I wanted to know if it was actually really, truly, and completely gone... Let me know will you? 'Cause I have no way of double-checking from my end...

Now, if the new word-verification happens to irk you as much as it does me (it sends me squarely round the bend) you too can disable it.

Here's what you do:

1. [Skip to step 2 if you're still using the old Blogger interface.] 

Edited to Add 24 Sept 2012

You CAN now turn off two-word verification in the new interface. Here's how: 
1. Click "settings" from within your dashboard. 
2. Click "posts and comments". 
3. Adjust "comment moderation" settings to your liking.  

Thanks for updating me, Jelli. ♥M

If you're using the new Blogger interface you first have to get back to the old interface because, for some reason, these settings cannot be found in the new one. Hrm. So, find your way to the old interface by going to the new dashboard. In the upper right hand corner of your screen you'll see a little icon that looks like a gear. Click the icon and this drop-down menu will appear immediately below it:

2. Click on "Old Blogger interface". This brings you back to a sweet and simpler time... Now click on the settings for the blog in question:

3. And then select the Comments tab.

4. Scroll down the page to "Show word verification for comments?" and click "NO". Obviously. Not even a question.

5. Briefly celebrate. And then quickly hit "Save Settings" at the bottom of the page. 

Aaaah yesssss... Not even a craft but still most satisfying. Everything is right with my bloggy world again. You should now be word-verification-less... Blissdom!...  Okay well, you have a lovely weekend and I'll be back soon.


Edited to Add 28 Feb 2012: HERE's another very thorough post by Hilary about the new word-verification. Thanks Hilary!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Craftsy's Block of The Month: February

I've completed the February blocks for Craftsy's free Block of the Month class. Do you remember my January blocks? Who knows if they'll all go together. Here's hoping... For this month we made two pretty blocks: a chunky chevron and a Balkan puzzle. I had some "issues" with both blocks. Eep.

First off, when I made the Balkan puzzle (the first time), it came out at 11-1/2 inches. It was supposed to be 12-1/2 inches. Grumble grumble. For my second attempt, I went wild and added 1/4 inch to the template. And it actually turned out the right size. Isn't that odd? Beats me... Anyway, I'm going to tuck my extra lovely Balkan puzzle block safely away and some day in the far distant future I'll attempt one of THESE. Oh my, oh my... Talk about making lemonade!

And secondly, when it came to sewing the rows together - see how there are four rows in each block? - I had a whale of a time matching points, even though I did the nesting seams trick, and pinned, and everything... Grumble grumble. Is there some sort of extra little secret to matching points that I'm failing to understand, or is it just something that comes with experience? I ripped out the final three seams twice each for each block. And they're still not perfect. Grumble grumble.

But oh well, I learn.

You have yourself a fine day. I'll be back soon!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Treasures From Those Northern Skies

My friend Melissa held a giveaway the other day and guess who won it! Yes, it was I!

Melissa blogs over at... well... a few places. She has a home-schooling blog and a poetry blog, but I visit her most often at Those Northern Skies where she shares a little bit of everything including crafts, photography, and real-life family adventures. Melissa has a gifted photographic eye. She's a poet. A crafter. A teacher. She does it all actually. And her blogger voice is a most natural and honest one. I love that about her.

The giveaway prize was advertised as the lovely embroidery kit in the first pic. But that sweet Melissa! She sent along all kinds of extra miscellaneous goodies in the prize package! Opening it was like having a personal look-see into Melissa's private craft stash. So much fun! Each little bundle contained a handwritten note detailing its contents. Isn't that the neatest thing?

This one below says: "Michele, I know I've seen you use concentrate containers frequently but never the lids.  :)" Well Melissa, this is where I beg to differ. Take a look here, here, here, here, and here. See? I have used metal juice lids! And these will happily join my beloved recyclable stash.

She included a few different recyclables like these beautifully coloured plastic rice bags and a white glass bottle. I'll for sure have fun playing with these! Maybe even in combination...

Now here's something I've never crafted with: old puzzles! Hmm... that sounds like a bit of a challenge, eh? Going to have to think hard about that one... Oh, but I recall that Melissa herself crafted with puzzle pieces. You see, she made this lovable puzzle snowman! Isn't it a cutie-pie?

You're truly kind Melissa. Thank you so much for sending along this treasure. I know I will enjoy days, if not weeks, of crafty fun with all your gifts.

Have a great day!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Denim Bowl PDF Tutorial in The Shop!

Happy Saturday to you!

Today I have a joyful little shop update!

It is a PDF downloadable tutorial for a two-toned recycled denim bowl. The 6-page photo tutorial will guide you step-by-step through the creation of this pretty bowl. The project requires little skill and only a few supplies including a couple scraps of denim, a bit of crochet cotton, some fabric stiffener, and a circular metal juice lid from a frozen concentrated fruit juice container. The end result is not only very pretty and unique, but also useful and most satisfying to put together. I know you will enjoy it, just as I did!

The PDF downloadable tutorial is available in the Shop!

Have yourself a fabulous weekend. I'll return again very soon.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plastic Jug to Eggshell Mosaic Vase

You know how it goes. You're sitting there with your legs up, lazily exploring the strange and wonderful world via laptop, clicking hither and thither, wandering pretty much aimlessly when you're suddenly caught by an object of singular beauty. It stops you dead. It wakes you from your stupor. It moves you to action.

This very scenario happened to me just a little while ago, when my path of discovery lead me to Gingerbread Snowflakes, crafty blog of the one and only, Pam Harris. What did I unearth there?  Well, let me tell you. It was this glorious mosaic egg, an egg that Pam had decorated with dyed eggshells. How sweet it was... I pert near swooned.

Naturally, I was inspired by Pam's egg to make a handsome faux-ceramic mosaic vase from eggshells and a plastic maple syrup jug of course. Goodness yes! Here's what I did.

First, I created my vase. I removed the label from the plastic jug and using a handsaw, sawed off the threads at the opening. Then I smoothed the freshly cut mouth of the jug with sandpaper.

I was then ready to decorate. The fun part! For this project I thought long and hard about the glue type I should use to adhere the shells. Glueing onto plastic can be dicey. I ended up gambling on the same glue I used for the cork stamp project: Aleene's FunCraft Foam Glue. Foam is a variety of plastic so I figured it would probably work here too. Happily, my gamble paid off. Those egg shells aren't goin' nowheres.

I dabbed on a little glue directly from glue bottle to jug, covered the gluey area with eggshells, and repeated until the desired area was covered. A pair of tweezers came in very handy here to handle and set in place the wee eggshells. On the edges of the eggshell-covered area, I made sure to completely cover any gluey spots with eggshells to ensure a neat and tidy edge.

Here's a super-short (4 second long) animation experiment showing the application of (most of the) eggshells on the jug. My Lo and I were playing. You may have to view it a couple times to actually see the whole thing. It goes by in the blink of an eye.

You'll notice that I used two colours of shells on my vase. I coloured a few shells with permanent markers (orange and black in my case). Two "lines" of coloured eggshells sandwich the natural brown eggshells.

I let the whole thing dry overnight; the glue will still be tacky even once dry. I then carefully gave the area - egg shells only, mind you - a few coats of satin-finish water-based varnish. You could go glossy here if you prefer. I used what I had.

Soon as spring arrives, throw in a few pebbles or a bit of sand to balance the weight of flowers, place your spring blooms inside, and presto-change-oh, you have yourself a delightful faux-ceramic mosaic center-piece! All thanks to the internet and Pam. Thank you sweet Pam!

Have yourself a fine day now. I'll be back real soon!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cork Stamp Fun #1

I'm experimenting with the cork stamps I made (Find out how to make your own HERE). Yesterday I was stamping on brown paper bags to see if I could make some interesting gift wrap or scrapbooking papers. The combinations are many and infinite.

I think my favourites of these are:

Message:  I like this one because your words can say something meaningful/funny/silly and personalized.

All-Over Letter/Symbol: These ones I like because I'm a fan of repetition and they are a breeze to do even for a child. Plus, they just look real cool.

Sharpie & Symbol: What do I like about this one?... Beats me. It speaks to me, I guess. For this one, I drew my circles with a medium-size sharpie on the back of the paper so when I flipped the paper to the good side, the sharpie-lines looked faded or distressed. It creates a neat effect. I finished off the design with the sun symbol stamped on the good side.

In case you're wondering, I used the exact same method to create the symbol stamps as I did for the letter stamps. It's easy to draw up cute little nature symbols (or any symbol you can think of really) and use THIS simple method to fashion stamps out of them.

I'm feeling a little peckish. I'm thinking: toasted tomato sandwich (or samwich as Lo calls it) with pickled onions on the side. Yum. Happy Love Day to you!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Write, Publish and Sell Your Crafty Ebook: A Testimonial

Disclosure: I received a copy of the ebook for review. All statements and opinions below are my own.

Last January 2011, I took an on-line course offered by "Sister Diane" Gilleland of the Craftypod all about writing and publishing crafty ebooks. Recently, Diane has turned the very same course into a jam-packed 84-page ebook entitled: Write, Publish and Sell Your Crafty Ebook. I've read the ebook from cover to cover and it is essentially an updated, written version of the on-line course.

Today I want to talk about my experience with the course/ebook, what I learned, and how the course helped me. Does that sound fair? Okay, here goes.

To begin, I want to direct your attention to the author's own ebook repertoire: here and here. Yes. Diane has written and published a goodly number of ebooks. As you can see, she's been there. She has stared the blank screen in the eye. She has survived the technical trenches. So I ask you: "Who better to tackle the subject of writing ebooks?" Probably no one.

So what ever did I learn from Write, Publish and Sell Your Crafty Ebook exactly? Um... well... that's a big question with a large answer.

But okay... I learned that there are things you should probably explore before you jump into an ebook project. Like, who's your audience, how much will it cost you, has your ebook already been written?  I learned about the numerous skills required to rustle up an ebook document. For instance, I found out that there are different types of editing, there are different types of writing, you may have to become familiar with new types of software such as layout software, photo-editing software, pattern-making software to make the ebook you want to make. She touches on all of these things.

I learned oodles of new and practical bits and bobs. I found out how to get more out of Google searches through Google Blog Search. I had never heard of it. Now I use it constantly. I learned about ISBN numbers and why they may or may not be useful for ebook authors. Diane also provides a pricing formula for your completed ebook and discusses the vagaries of print book pricing versus ebook pricing.

Through the course I found out about the many ways in which one might sell an ebook. For example, I learned all about E-junkie, a company that provides you with "the stuff" for selling downloads. E-junkie hosts your large documents and offers you shopping cart technology, you see. This information has been essential to me.

And Sister Diane is nothing if not thorough. At every turn, she lays out the options and shows you the possibilities. For example there are copious strategies to help you market your ebook: the electronic press kit, engagement marketing methods, and storytelling partnerships to name a few. She provides examples of each, explains them in detail or links to outside sources that do. I hadn't a clue about any of these before I took the course.

Diane offers up some really solid advice in the book. To get your feet wet in the on-line publishing world, she suggests starting small with a single tutorial. An exercise like that could teach you a lot. Not only could it get you comfortable using all the ebook-making tools, it could also give you insights into how much time certain tasks might take, what skills you will need to work on... etc. In fact, writing a tutorial is exactly what I did to start.  So far I've written several PDF tutorials and have decided to write some more before I kickoff any large ebook projects. I expect, by the time I get to the ebook stage, I will be more confident, more knowledgeable and better organized, which will make birthing an ebook a somewhat less laborious task.

I think Write, Publish and Sell Your Crafty Ebook is a great ebook. What makes it great is the fact that Diane holds up her own ebook writing and publishing experiences as an example. She shares her own stories, statistics and real-life adventures to illustrate where she's gone wrong and what she's done right. She does that in order to pave a smooth road for her readers, one that avoids some of the bumps she's encountered. She shares her very own tried-and-true process for making an actual PDF ebook document. That is pretty cool of her, don't you think? It's real, and it's darn useful too.

I went into the course empty-handed. I had NO idea. But I feel like I left the course with a trunkful of power tools. It took me a while to work up the nerve to actually use them, mind you. Some of them were intimidating, it's true. Eventually though, I bit the bullet and revisited the course materials. And over the last few months, that course has had a huge impact on me and my work. As you may have noticed, last September I went into business for myself. From my blog, I quietly opened my very own on-line shop where I sell PDF downloadable tutorials. I'm learning so much from my shop experience. Having a shop would have been impossible without Diane and her course/ebook.

So by now you probably get it. Write, Publish and Sell Your Crafty Ebook has been an invaluable resource to me. If you're considering self-publishing, this ebook contains everything you'll need to get started.

Click on the above link to check it out!

And Diane. Thank you. I think I might owe you.


Note: All photos in this post by Diane Gilleland from the ebook Write, Publish and Sell Your Crafty Ebook.

Note: I want to take a moment to extend a special thank you to Pam of Gingerbread Snowflakes for the lovely and unexpected feature post on Thursday. Thanks so much Pam!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Artizen Magazine Feature PLUS A Quiet Tutorial

If you peruse the latest "Truffles vs Truffles" issue of Artizen Magazine, you may find someone familiar mentioned in its pages... Oh heck, look at me, I can't be coy to save my life... Okay here's the deal. I'm featured in this month's issue of Artizen Magazine and I'm pretty happy about the whole thing. The article was written by Michael Helander, author of the beauteous art and craft blog Blue Velvet Chair. Thanks so much Michael and Artizen for the invitation and for the glowing feature.

Oh yeah. Almost forgot. Before you skip away, here's a quiet little tutorial for you for the above Tissue Box Valentines... Enjoy!

Did you get all that? Note that I also dabbed some gluestick glue to the spokes to keep the whole Valentine together. Now all it needs is your sweet message of love on the back, and you're off and running!

Okay. NOW  hop on over HERE to devour every delicious word of the Artizen Magazine article. Go to it.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Decorative Gift Handles

Don't even bother with a bow. Make a nifty handle out of a cracker box. 

Attach it to your inside-out cereal box with some nifty brads.

Place the goodies inside. And see that? It's a nifty gift.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Juice Can Cereal Box Basket Tutorial in The Shop!

It's time I update my wee shop, don't you think?

Today's shop offering is a 9-page PDF tutorial for my "Juice Can Cereal Box Basket". You've probably divined from its name that it is entirely recycled. And you've no doubt correctly assumed that it is woven from a metal-bottomed, frozen concentrated fruit juice container and a cereal box. You'd be right on both counts, of course.

Does this mean we're on the same page, you and I, and I barely have to speak anymore? That's okay. It's good that we're comfortable. I'm happy that you "get me" you know? Darn nice, that.

Well I  am off to enjoy my weekend. You have a lovely one too.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reader Question: What Can I Make With Plastic Bottle Caps?

A little while ago, I received the following email:

Dear Michele,

Do you have any idea of what to do with old bottle caps, like those of your juice cap ornament, and some like those that come on plastic milk containers? I have at least a few thousand of them and need some ideas! Help!


Whoa there Sande! Did you say "a few thousand"? Tarnation that's a lot. What is the proper term for a person who passionately collects bottle caps I wonder? I have "capitalist" on the tip of my tongue, but I don't think that's quite right... Well, in any case, I put together a few suggestions for you. Hopefully these will help put a dent in your supply.

Idea #1. One, and probably my favourite, idea for reusing plastic bottle caps is to morph them into tiny, cute and useful pincushions. In fact, I'd been meaning to try making one of these for, like, ever. So that's what I did. I give you (drum roll) my Bottle Cap Pincushion Critter (above)! He was so much fun to design and make. I see many more of these in my future. Learn how to make the basic pinny at Craftstylish.

So that uses up ONE of your bottle caps. Fabulous. What's next...

Idea #2. You could adorn your fridge in happy/sad/angry bottle cap fridge magnets. Or, if the emotionally fragile craft doesn't strike your fancy, here's a somewhat more even-keeled project: a lampshade. Find both at Esprit Cabane.

Idea #3. You've seen my juice cap ornament right? As far as bottle cap crafts go, it's a unique alternative I think. (Shameless self-promotion... Really Michele?)

Idea #4. Sande, do you have kids? Making bottle cap lady bugs might be a neat way to spend a rainy afternoon. Get the details at Crafts by Amanda.

Idea #5. Or, if you're the slightly more ambitious artsy-type, you could attempt a self-portrait like Mary Ellen Croteau did. That ought to use up a couple caps, eh?

Idea #6. Oh, and I need one of these for my house. When you get a few spare moments, could you maybe make me one?...

Idea #7. And finally, Dollar Store Crafts was asked the very same question back in June 2011. Read all the interesting suggestions in the comments of this handy post.

Edited to Add: Melissa from Those Northern Skies pointed out her sweet bottle cap Christmas trees, and I just had to add them to the list!

There it is Sande. I hope this list gets your crafty juices flowing and helps you on your way. If anyone has any other brainwaves, do pipe up in the comments. I'd love to hear your ideas.



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