15 minutes to a better blog + Design + Life / Thursday, 8 Nov 2012

15 minutes to a better blog

This is is the second post in a new weekly series by Tori Bowman of That Pair of Crutches. To see the first click here.

When you read a blog, what’s the first thing you notice? What details make you keep reading and which ones make you think that this blog might not be that professional and keep you from going back a second time? Little things like the name, the design, too little (or too much!) information crowding the sidebars… With so many things for readers to love or hate about a blog, here are a few tips to keep your readers coming back and loving what they see. 
1. Chuck the “husband and wife” title. Unless you’re writing for an audience made up of only friends and family, or you really do co-author the blog with your spouse, don’t call your blog after the two of you. Ditch the titles that include last names, stop saying “we” in your about page, and while personal posts are wonderful, start thinking about what else you have to offer the blogging world. Yes, bloggers who blog entirely about their personal lives (like Naomi of Rockstar Diaries) have created a large following and created amazing blogs, and readers DO want to know about your life outside of the internet, but they also want to be inspired and gain something from your little space. Try to give them something for supporting your blog. 
2. Customize your template. Get rid of the shadows behind photos that come standard with new Blogger templates. Create a separate “about” widget rather than using the pre-made one provided by your hosting site. Pick a new color scheme. Make your blog your own rather than just going with a template that thousands of other blogs are already using. It’s a simple way to get your blog noticed and help your readers to trust you and your content more. 
3. Get rid of the Google Friend Connect widget. Google has suspended the service for blogs other than those hosted by Blogger. It has become a less than convenient way for readers to follow blogs because they can no longer follow ALL their blogs through it. Most have switched to other readers so that they don’t have to use more than one platform. Remove the widget and make other ways of following you more apparent. A link to your Facebook and Twitter, a customized email subscription form, a beautifully designed marquee that says “Please keep reading!” You can even explain the change in a post, highlighting the other ways that readers can keep up with you. The people who really want to keep up with your blog will stick around, don’t worry! 
What keeps you reading your favorite blogs? What is the first thing you notice about a blog, and what keeps you there or turns you away?
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Design + Outfit to room + Style / Wednesday, 7 Nov 2012

Outfit to Room: 7

Outfit  |  Sofa  |  Chair  |  Print  |  Small pixelated pillow  |  large pixelated pillow  |  lamp

by Katie Farber of This, That, & The Other 

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contest + Costumes + holiday + Life + Party + Projects / Tuesday, 6 Nov 2012

Halloween contest!

I am floored at the response I got from the call for the Halloween costume contest. Now, it’s a little less of a contest, than a “show me how creative you are!” because man, you had some good ones! That said, all the selections presented here will receive one free telegram from Telegram Stop. Wahoo! Sadly, I don’t have the space on the blog to show all of them, but I appreciate everyone who sent in their photos so much. Kept me in giggles! I’m going to put all of them onto my “COSTUME PARTIES” Pinterest board so you can check them all out there.
First off, the floral costumes! The top photo comes from Kimberly Moore of Third Floor, who saw my dream in January to recreate this illustration of a bouquet of flowers for my Halloween costume this year. Sadly, I didn’t have a reason to dress up this year so I didn’t (boo hoo hoo). I just LOVE her spin on it. Below, Søs Uldall Ekman, used some face paint and faux flowers to create a fantastic dia de los muertos costume.
Next up…geography! My sister, Caitlin Watson, who I talk about all the time, came up with Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. Genius? I think so. Is everyone familiar with The Magic School Bus? It’s a series of kids books based on the adventures of the clever Mrs. Frizzle and her class. Laura Tarrish, an illustrator in Portland, made a globe out of styrofoam with her husband for her now 23 year old daughter when she was 3. And then she turned it into her Christmas card and labelled it, ” Peace on Earth”. Sweet huh?
Kids costumes! Jen Craun, an artist, and her architect husband made AMAZING lego costumes for her kids as seen here (they are nuts) and last year made this amazing monarch butterfly and shark costume for her kids.  
Couple’s costumes! You guys came up with some very clever couple’s costumes. First up, I LOVE this one. The European Debt crisis with Liberty dressed as Germany and her husband, Greece, groveling at her feet. Clever!

And isn’t this adorable? Kelly of Studio DIY created an amazing croquembouche costume (or French macaron wedding cake) out of COFFEE FILTERS while her husband was its French chef. Too much!

Mary Poppins and Bert are adorable! Carolina of Antologia and her boyfriend play the roles well.
Janet of This Confetti Life and her husband made adorable robbers no? 
This one is one of my favorites. I love me an inanimate object costume like this pencil. Simple, perfect. By illustrator Michéle Brummer-Everett
And last but not least, costumes for groups: Wes Anderson characters including Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and Royal Tennebaums from Suzanna Rooks, a graphic designer in South Carolina.
But the real star of the show was Kelly’s Mexican pinata chihuahua. Nailed it.
Thanks again everyone for submitting your photos! I just loved checking them out and wish I could have showed everyone’s stellar costumes. Again, they will all appear on my Pinterest board, “costume parties” so you can check them out there. I can’t wait for next year’s costumes! If you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking of what you’ll be doing.
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Style + This Guy / Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012

This Guy: 2

 This guy  |  Enters  |  Escapes

Click here to see more of This Guy

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Europe + Life + Provence + travel / Monday, 29 Oct 2012

Walking around Apt

Oh, I’m not nearly done talking about our trip to Provence last month. The thing about Provence is that most everything is picturesque so you can’t help but walk around with a camera to your eye. Now, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came across this little square in the village we were staying at in Apt. I felt like I was suddenly transported into a de Chirico painting. You know what I mean?

Love doorknobs in the center of the door.
And you know, grapevines over your door. Just in case you need to make some wine really fast.

More pics from the trip here.

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