Friday, June 26, 2015

A Dash of EJ

Well I wasn't intending on taking off this week from blogging - I even had three posts all queued up waiting to go!  Then I checked them and realized I never got their images uploaded so the drafts were never scheduled to publish.  Whoops.  :(

So while we're pretending I didn't miss a beat ;)  I'll get them all queued up to publish on schedule next week.  To make up for it, here is are a few cuteness overload pictures of EJ at the beach this past weekend (and why I forgot to finish *next week's* images).



After the beach we went to dinner at Art's Tavern and Cherry Republic for dessert.  Ellie loved smelling all the flowers + carrying her "own" bag.



Have you ever visited Glen Arbor, Michigan?  What is your favorite thing to experience there?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Instagram Sample Sale!

With the home addition in its (hopefully) last month of construction, I have been eagerly anticipating moving Knittedhome into her new studio(!).  


And with that I have been organizing + reorganizing + purging anything that won't have a dedicated space.  Including early samples.  


So today I am posting them on Instagram for your last chance to nab one of these beauties before they are gone.  

Any samples that aren't purchased by the time construction is complete will be donated.


I hope you'll take this opportunity to hop over to Instagram + snatch them up before they're gone.

Please feel free to tag your friends in the comments (on Instagram).  I'd love to see these go to new homes instead of the donate bin :)  


Which one(s) are your favorite?  Even though it's hard to let go, how do you make way for new inspiration?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Veggies are Growing like Weeds!

With all the rain we've had last week - every day of the week we've had a soaking rain except Saturday! - I've loved watching all my green beans, beets + kohlrabi make leaps and bounds in their growth.  I can't believe how quickly they've gone from sprouting last week to being inches tall (the green beans) + beautiful sprouts (beets + kohlrabi).  There are definitely bare spots where seeds didn't germinate and you can see the "rows" I planted the seeds in all too nicely, haha.  


Because I was pretty liberal with sprinkling seeds everywhere (to increase my germination rate of 2+ year old seeds), I have tried to gently transplant some seedlings to bare spots.  As usual, many weren't too happy about the move but, again because of the rain, I'm excited that a handful seemed to transition without any sign of disturbance! 


Even the tomatoes have grown INCHES this past week.  When I planted them, they reached the first rung of their cages, but now can easily touch the third rung!


The only plant that I haven't noticed significant growth is the bell peppers.  But at least they are looking very healthy + happy.  That is all I wish for in my garden: healthy plants + heavy yields.  :)


How is your garden growing?  Have you had anything to harvest yet?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Improve Your Reach with #Hashtags

I don't know about you, but I've been a holdout for using hashtags when they first arrived on the social media scene.  I thought they looked so dumb in text updates + sometimes I couldn't even read them right away because they were so long.  I was disgusted + turned off by them.



And then I started dabbing in Instagram tags. #CrochetersofInstagram #KnittersofInstagram #EtsySeller #EtsyShop.

And then I tried a few more specific ones #SpringShellBeanie #MiniCowl and my favorite #NaptimeSuccess.  And the glee I've experienced(!) when I discovered I've created a "new" hashtag (aka, there are no other photos listed with said hashtag).  I love continuing to tag more images of mine with these unique tags to create a personal collection of projects.

Which is what hashtagging is all about!  To collect similar images together that fit a specific demographic, image style, image subject, audience, and more!

Why did I not try this sooner??  So many new connections have now been opened to me to experience new like-minded creators + inspirations!  Not to mention the amount of traffic I've gained on Twitter + Instagram just by others discovering me through the same hashtag channels.  I wish Instagram had analytics so I could figure out how many new friends I've made in the last 2 months.

Instagram has definitely become my favorite organic inspiration since Pinterest is such a black hole of inspiration overload (but I still love it!!)

What are your experiences with hashtags?  How do you best grow your reach?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Rain Storm + Random Thoughts

Cue sounds + smells of an an evening thunderstorm with *tons* of soaking rain + that cooling breeze!  I have to fight the urge to open all the windows to air out + cool the house since it would soak everything nearby… But just a crack to let in the breeze should keep most of the rain out, right? ;)

Today is a random post of thoughts.  Starting with I cannibalized my blogging time to design my sister's bridal invitations in a 1920s theme.  If there is one predictable thing about me, it's that I'm always pushing the deadline (note: my blog post schedule).  So of course my mother + I want MUST get these invitations in the mail by the end of the week, if not sooner and do you think we'd have a design by now?  ;)  

I'm happy to say we are well on our way to printing - hopefully tomorrow!  As soon as I get everyone's approval I shall be hitting the Print button + begin the happy ballet of stuffing + addressing envelopes.  :)


Other thoughts on my mind: blogging sadly hasn't been one of them :(  I had such an influx of inspiration last month that I wrote down all the titles + their summaries but trying to sit down + focus on fleshing them out has been difficult for me.  Hopefully next week I'll feel renewed inspiration to blog.

One possibility could be the current push to get more house addition progress completed.  HVAC is scheduled to be installed this weekend + it looks like we might be doing siding by July Fourth, if not sooner.  Which means I get to plant my blueberries along the addition!  Can I just say how much I've been itching to beautify the exterior grounds?

The temporary wall came down between the existing house (kitchen) + the addition and it has gotten me anxious to see the kitchen renovation start.  So much space!  But first things first; I keep reminding myself the addition needs completed before the kitchen can start… and then I get a dishwasher… oh to have those 30 minutes a day to devote to blogging more cleaning.  ;)

With all this rain, the seeds are sprouting like weeds!  I can't wait to show you their progress in Monday's post!


What's been filling your thoughts lately?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Seeding the Vegetable Garden + A Trip to the Zoo

I'm happy to say the rest of the vegetable garden has been planted + now we wait!


EJ + I planted the bush green beans + bush wax beans after her afternoon nap on Sunday(?).



Then Tuesday we planted the beets + kohlrabi after her one long nap in the afternoon.

You see, we had a very eventful Tuesday morning discovering the newly renovated Toledo Aquarium with our buddies (who only takes 1 afternoon nap so it has been hard for his mama + I to plan a playdate).


EJ handled the skipped morning nap pretty well considering she was rubbing her eyes an hour before we even got to the zoo.  I am so proud + thankful she was such a trooper!  She really enjoyed watching all the sharks + fish swim around behind the glass walls.


She impressed me even more by eating such a decent lunch before finally going down for her nap -- and she was out like a light!  It is so refreshing for both of us when she naps so well :)

So not only did I get to sit outside, enjoy the sun and get boring household paperwork completed, I was feeling motivated to finish planting the garden!

I do relish these "perfect" days -- especially on those not-so-stellar ones.  So I always try to savor the moments + burn them into my memory for future relishing.

What's got you beaming with contentment + pleasure?  Do you remember to savor your "perfect" moments as they occur or do you only notice them upon later reflection?

Friday, June 5, 2015

How to Look Professional with FREE Resources

For those of us who don't have the budget to pay this or that a month for fancy software or to higher a graphic designer, I have rounded up my favorite FREE resources that can give you the look of a professional, without the price tag.


Canva.com

I can't suggest Canva enough!  It has been my go-to since I first discovered it (byRegina) for creating all my graphics.  At least in my opinion, I feel it has really polished up this blog's posts + made them a lot nicer looking + pinnable.

PLUS: you can publish working hyperlinks in pdfs = or a whole ebook even but building the "book" in canva + downloading as a pdf!  #SuperEasy.

The best part is how easy it is to use!

TIP:  Set your custom fonts/sizes/colors then start adding fonts to your graphics.  Continue in the same "project file" of similar looks to keep your consistency by simply copying one canvas to another + adjusting the copy to your new look.  I.E.  I copy a canvas, delete the image + add my new image + retype any font that needs updating.  BAM!  new image ready to download w/o guessing if everything is in the same spot/ same size/style fonts, etc.
* service is only free if you don't use their priced elements.

PicMonkey

My favorite part of PicMonkey is that I can adjust the size of each picture's border when I create collages.  This is not a feature on my phone's PhotoGrid app which I have been using for the past few years.  The huge + only downside to PicMonkey is that it loads slow (sometimes SUPER slow) on my [5 year old] computer.  I do my best to not have more than 3 tabs open at a time in my browser or I get the spinning wheel of death.

PDF Compressor

After downloading all those beautiful images or a collection of them as a pdf, I found that some files were so large I couldn't upload them to the sites I wanted as such a large file.
Say hello to Chrome's Small PDF.  You can simply drag-and-drop a file from your computer right into their drop zone or search for the file to upload.  It immediately starts compressing (or converting if that's what you selected) your pdf + you download the smaller file from the same window.  No waiting for their server to email you the finished file.  Woot Woot!
No only was this process relatively quick, it preserved the beautiful, crisp quality of all my images (from 38mb to 1.35mb)!  This alone is the reason I bookmarked this site!  It is also how I compress all my digital patterns for selling online.

Avery

Obviously you have to buy their products, but their templates are great for creating professional-looking branding items.

I use Avery for my business cards, hang tags, and now stickers for take-away bags at Art Shows.

TIP:  Save your design to the MyAvery until you have it PERFECT (printing on your stickers/cards/whatever without any problem).  Then save the PDF that it is printing from to your computer.

MailChimp

I'm sure you've heard of MailChimp by now, but in case you haven't - and because this list wouldn't be complete without it - I highly recommend signing up + getting your email list started.  Even if it is only an RSS feed of your blog posts weekly or monthly (guilty - this is my current set up.  But I promise to have something more exciting soon!)

My favorite part of MailChimp is how easy it is to build + type my emails in batches (or flesh them out over time) + schedule their sending on future dates.  The RSS is a pretty nifty feature as well but I think I need to make it more of an extra perk to my newsletters, not the main focus.

TIP: Design a template in your Brand Style FIRST, then create a New Campaign EACH TIME using your Template so you don't have to go back + adjust your fonts/ sizes/ designs each time.  It took me way too long to figure out the difference between the two (blonde day I suppose).

IFTTT

I've mentioned this in a few other posts but this little app has basically been my PR department when I'm not actively promoting my own posts/ etsy listings/ tweeting/ pinning/ Facebook posting.  The beauty of it is I don't have to copy + paste my content across all social media platforms every time I update one of them.

Since I have only just started using Twitter personally (before it was more of a place holder + receiver for IFTTT recipes), I have recipes in place to tweet what I post on Facebook; or to tweet when I publish a new Instagram image; tweet when I list a new item on Etsy; and tweet when I publish a new blog post.

I also have it set to publish Instagram + blog posts to my Facebook page.  This is also how I am able to syndicate my Blogspot posts to Wordpress.  Fun, huh?

Here are some of the recipes that I use personally: Knittedhome IFTTT Recipes

TIP:  Look at the recipes that are already out there + then tweak one to do exactly what you want so you don't have to start from scratch.  Do this for your first few, simple tasks; then you can get daring + create one from scratch to do more complex tasks.  Perhaps you even stack recipes so that one starts the chain of events?


What are your experiences with these sites?  How do you use them to build your Brand's professionalism?  Do you have any others you would recommend?  Please paste any links in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Naturally Crafty Trunk Show Review


I'm not proud to say I started this morning's show with forgetting my lockbox key(!!) of all things - but my amazing hubby jumped in + saved the day before it even began!  He packed up himself + EJ in the truck (both in their pjs + pancake breakfast for her in the carseat) + they drove the 30 minutes south to drop it off to me.

After that it was a fairly smooth + wonderful day for a Trunk Show!

Our first customers walked in about a half hour after our official start time + the last ones walked out about 15 minutes after our "end" time.  Overall we had about 4 good waves (10am, 11-11:30, 1pm, 1:30pm -ish) of people coming through with only 3 times that there was no one customer browsing.

Again my best sellers were headbands

I was impressed I only had two credit card sales, both at 11:40 for a man's thick beanie + 11:50am for a pair of headbands (one double-banded + one shell).  Otherwise all my other sales were cash (#hats, # headbands), and almost always exact change!  (This always impresses me since I like to have change ready on hand)  I like to think that means my pricing is spot on/easy for the customer? 

A photo posted by Annie (@knittedhome) on

Lunch was delicious!  Amanda (English Acres) definitely out did herself + I can't wait to buy clean meat chickens from her this fall.  Hubby even agreed that we could get our pork from her next year! :)

After such a successful Saturday with these amazing ladies, and some awesome networking, I am anxious + excited for the holiday show.  We were all eagerly planning it before 2 o'clock had even rolled around!  haha.  :)  I would say I definitely made some new friends that I look forward to collaborating + brainstorming with + hope to keep in touch.  


What are niche markets you'd like to see showcased in your area?  Or do you already have access to these markets?  I'd love to hear all about them in the comments section!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Garden Layout + Plans

I've finally found a few spare minutes to write + draw our veggie + flower garden plans this year!!  Can I just say how excited I am for this after reading everyone else's posts on their gardens + drooling over seed catalogs since Februrary!?

We were originally talking about moving the vegetable garden beds this year but with so much already on our plate we have agreed that it will have to wait for next year.  Hopefully this means we can finally focus on installing the picket fence + flower bed/retaining-wall with a strawberry bed along the back of our property (and separating it from the alley).  


We had planned to do this over 2 years ago but we didn't want to block any necessary access for the construction of the home addition.  Now that it is nearly complete(!) I'm super excited to get this project underway.  We have so much planned for this property (house + yard) it will have undergone such a transformation from the day we purchased it.  Maybe I'll post a Before + After this Fall…

The first transformation in 2012

Dan has made it a point since our first summer here that the front of our house needs to have flowers + nice landscape.  Growing up, I never cared for flowers past planting them.  But now seeing both the monetary investment + the beauty that is possible, I am eager to keep up with their care + maintenance (aka remember to water them daily).  Curb appeal is definitely on my priority list for a happy home.

Notes: Re-side the house in grey  |  Remove shutters  |  Paint the mailbox teal?
Rebuild the stoop; Eventually build a front porch

As for the veggie garden, I have been trying to keep a garden journal longer than the planting stage.  I am always so eager to plant + plan my patch but then I forget to record when we harvested what, for how long, and when it stopped producing.  



My long term goals for our vegetable garden is companion planting, intensive rotation, and high yield for canning + freezing.  I'd love to be able to dry our own berries (strawberries + blueberries) but I don't see our plants producing too much anytime soon.


Each year we try a new veggie to see how well it grows for us + to expand our recipe repertoire + to encourage ourselves to try new foods.  I haven't found one for this year's garden yet, so if you have a suggestion I've love to hear it in the comments!


What are your plans for your yard, flower beds, and/or vegetable garden this year?  Please feel free to share a link(s) in the comment section.