Friday, December 31, 2010

Homemade Vietnamese (Kinda Thai) Food!

Ok... maybe not authentic, but I came up with this because I was desperately craving the Grilled Chicken and Vermicelli from Little Viet Garden in Arlington (can't find their webpage).



This is a simple-simple-simple-super-easy recipe that you can vary based on your taste and nutritional needs. You can even omit the chicken for a vegetarian version. The other ingredients are so simple but still so tasty.

You'll need:
  1. A package of chicken breast tenderloins (about a pound?)
  2. A marinade and/or sauce for the chicken- some combination of soy and/or ginger and/or honey and/or teriyaki works. You can make your own, or buy a bottled mix such as this one from Paul Newman: http://www.newmansown.com/product_detail.aspx?productid=98
  3. Little bit of butter or margarine (if desired)
  4. 13.5 oz can of Coconut milk
  5. 1 cup Jasmine rice (or brown rice if you'd like it to be more healthful)
  6. Romaine Lettuce (I bought a bag of pre-cut for salads)
  7. Fresh Bean Sprouts- a couple handfuls
1. Cook the rice*:
In a medium saucepan, combine: 1 cup of Jasmine rice, 1 1/2 cup of coconut milk (shake the can well!! Shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em), and 1/4 cup of either water, broth, or more coconut milk. (You generally need about a 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice when preparing Jasmine rice. I found 2 full cups of liquid to be too much when I made mine, so I lessened the total liquid to 1 3/4 cups to 1 cup of rice. Use less coconut milk if you don't like your rice very coconutty!)
* If you're making brown rice, prepare the rice according to the directions of your brown rice, adding coconut milk as desired for taste.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes. (When I made my rice, a lot of the coconut milk was on the top at the end and the rice was a little soggy, but I liked the texture when combined with the rest of the dish!) When the rice is done, uncover it and stir it/fluff it up. Then cover it back up until you're ready to eat- unless it's not fluffy, then leave it uncovered.

2. Cook the chicken:
While the rice is quietly simmering, add some of your sauce (about 1/4 cup) of choice into a skillet over medium heat, with a little butter or margarine. Then add the chicken. Let this warm up and sit there for 5-7 minutes. Then turn the chicken tenderloins over and mix them around in the sauce, or add more sauce if you need to. Cook for another few minutes and turn them over again if you wish. It should cook for about the same time as the rice, maybe a little less.

3. Rip up the lettuce
if it's not chopped into bite-sized pieces already.

4. Put it all together! I used a deep soup-dish for mine, you can also do this on a plate but everything together in a nice deep dish kept it warm for a long time.
Add a couple of spoonfuls of rice to a bowl, then 2 of the chicken tenderloins- cut those into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a small handful of bean sprouts on top of the chicken and finish it off by piling it up with lettuce.
Don't skimp on the lettuce! It adds soooo much to this dish (typically people don't think of lettuce as being very flavorful but with this dish, you can really appreciate it). In fact I had to keep adding more and more lettuce to my dinner since I ate a few pieces of it with each bite and ran out quickly. You can make this dish into somewhat of a salad- I mean, who isn't trying to add more vegetables to their diet? Romaine lettuce is GOOD for you (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=61)and won't fill you up too quickly..... so pile it on!

To add more flavor to this dish, you can try adding any of the following:
-More sauce.
-Lime juice (a little goes a long way so add a little and taste as you go)
-Or Lemon (bleh!)
-Low-sodium soy sauce (I'm not trying to overload your sodium here!)
-Cilantro
-Peanuts
-Sesame seeds


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Want! Want! Wednesday!

TROPICAL PLAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNTS!!!!!!!

They are HIGH on the want list! But very few exist on the "have" list because I live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, where it's not warm enough to have most tropical plants.... unless you have tons of space in your house in which to over-winter them.

...However there are many ways to fake a tropical environment with hardy plants! I got so excited about it a while back that I wrote a whole Squidoo lens on the subject and if you're curious about gardening with tropical-looking hardy plants you can see it here:
http://www.squidoo.com/MidAtlanticTropical

And now here are some of the beauties I would have if I lived in a place where I could plant them all outdoors into a beautiful landscape! :)

BEEHIVE GINGER!:
Photographed in Costa Rica by Lea Maimone

LOBSTER CLAW HELICONIA!
Photo by KENPEI

MORE HELICONIA!
(shameless plug)
Painting by Moi
and is totally framed up and for sale
http://www.samanthasartstudio.com/heliconia.html
And my most favorite tree.....
the TRAVELLER PALM!
Photo by Louise Wolff

I do have other trees that I love... such as lime trees (I have a little baby dwarf key lime tree that spends the winter indoors) and my husband got me a Fig tree for Christmas which will be arriving some time in March! Other than the Traveller Palm, those are probably my two favorite trees because I love to eat what comes off of them... nom nom nom.

BIRD OF PARADISE!! ("Strelitzia reginae")
Photo by Moi
and might be a painting one day
slightly different composition and background of course
ORCHIDS!
(I have a few of these indoors, sure wish they could just grow wild all over my garden!)
Photo also taken by Me in Hawaii somewhere

Hope you enjoyed gazing at some happy colorful tropical plants, some of which maybe you've never heard of... so perhaps you even learned something! :)

We've got 3 months of cold weather ahead of us, so you can expect a lot more posts like this one regarding things of a tropical nature as my mind escapes to warmer and more colorful climates.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Fluffy Friday!!

Or, Happeh Fluffeh Friday if you speak LOLspeak! :)

Some websites and blogs that feature cute animals (such as my favorite, DAILY SQUEE!) have special weekly posts including "Fluffy Friday."
I don't feel that I've given enough mention to Dear Tosh, Baby Kitty, Pretty Girl, Tosh.0,  or her whole other slew of nicknames, in my blog.... so here's a special Fluffy Friday post, just for her! :)




Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Holidays Are Upon Us!

My husband and I haven't sent out Christmas cards in a few years (except to immediate family). I have no clue why we've been slacking on the cards...
Laziness?
Forgetfulness?
Why!? 

I used to love creating our Christmas cards via Shutterfly.com. Have you ever used them? They have like a million billion designs from which to choose and in every color scheme imaginable.

Here's a card I designed from the year we got married:

I really wasn't sure which picture(s) to use on our cards this year. We had a busy year but didn't really go on any trips or take pictures of anything exciting.... except at our triathlons and other events. I wondered if putting pictures from those on holiday cards would seem weird, but today I got a card in the mail from a friend and there she and her husband are in race attire! I immediately went upstairs and set out to design this year's card on Shutterfly's website.

I was quite excited to see that holiday cards are currently all 20% off AND they're offering free shipping if you spend $50 or more. I don't plan to spend $50 on cards.... but that DID get my creative wheels turning to try and figure out what other products I could create on Shutterfly for hard-to-shop-for relatives and take advantage of the free shipping offer. Shutterfly has a very extensive gift shop- everything from mugs to luggage tags (which I've created before and I love using!) to jewelry/keepsake boxes... if you have a photo, you can create a gift with it :)

When I started uploading photos to use on our card, I was a bit concerned since Christmas colors are typically red and green and the one good picture that I have of the two of us from this year is mostly black and purple.... Hello clashy. 
Never fear! Shutterfly has gone far beyond the limitations of just red and green. They've got designs in every color you can think of to go with any pictures you want to use :)
http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards

I especially liked this one-
http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/cards-stationery/merry-merry-greetings-holiday-4x8-photo-card-4x8-photo

And this one is very simple- you can upload a handful of pictures if you can't decide on just one to use-
http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/cards-stationery/red-glee-christmas-5x7-photo-card-5x7-photo

You can also even choose which fonts you want and they have a wide variety of them- formal, cartoony, fancy, plain, standard, scripty, you name it. You can customize the size and color of the fonts as well.

They're even doing a promotion this year for 50 free holiday cards for bloggers- find out about it here:
http://blog.shutterfly.com/5358/holiday2010-blog-submission-form/ 


I'll be sure to upload a picture of the card we end up choosing- I went a little overboard with them (I TOLD you it is fun) and designed 6. I'll get my husband's opinion on which he likes and we'll place our order ASAP since it's already the 11th and I can't even BELIEVE THAT.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oh mah gahhh, Squee-Worthy Bugs!

I'm a bit addicted to dailysquee.com and, of course, I particularly enjoy the bug submissions. The funny, the cute, the bizarre...

Thought I'd share some of the most squee-worthy cuteness with you!

Cute Baby Animals - Slow down, we can't keep up!
see more Daily Squee

Here's my all-time favorite snail!

I HAS A STIK
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Cute Baby Animals - Gypsy Moth Wants To Read Your Fortune.
see more Daily Squee

cute baby animals - O Hai!
see more Daily Squee

Humorous Pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

And one that I made from one of my photos:

I'm in ur flowurz...  Polinaytin ur world!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reunited!

When we started packing up and getting ready to move, I de-activated most of the items in my Etsy shop since I wasn't sure when I'd be able to find them again.
Last night I was so excited to FINALLY come across a few items I have been missing (and just in time for Chreeeeeeestmas!).

Butterfly Box- $15 + shipping

One of the items is this upcycled decoupaged Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly Box! It's a slide-top wooden box and I've just re-listed it in my Etsy shop- have a look if you've got someone on your shopping list who loves flowers or bugs... or the state of Maryland! (The Black-Eyed Susan is the Maryland state flower and the Baltimore Checkerspot is the state butterfly.)   :)


Monday, December 6, 2010

One room is DONE! (And a head's up on a great online deal)

First of all, here's the awesome online deal going on right now (not sure for how long)- scroll on down if you just want to see the new bathroom :)

I just ordered new towels (since every. single. one. of my old towels has friggn beach-spots all over them from benzoyl peroxide!) since my friend over at Baby Rabies alerted me to an incredible deal (via http://slickdeals.net/) that I couldn't pass up: I got 10 monogrammed Ralph Lauren towels and 1 hand towel, including the shipping and tax, for about $58. That is about $5 a towel (plus the hand towel and a couple bucks tax).

"Wait?? 50 bucks on towels?" you say.

It's just my husband and me, do we NEED TEN TOWELS? I was going to skip the deal and just go get a couple of new towels from good ol' Marshall's and call it done. But you can't even get a towel from Marshall's for 5 bucks. When I realized this, I caved in and ordered my new monogrammed towels.

Here's how you do it the cheapest way (a face cloth instead of a hand towel makes your total about $55 instead of $58):
Horchow has Ralph Lauren Greenwich Monogrammed 30x56" Bath Towel for $9.99. Place quantity of 10 in your cart and add quantity of 1 Face Cloth) - then use $50 off code HCWINTER = $54.89 for 10 Bath Towels + 1 Face Cloth. Shipping is free with code DECFS.

There are other sizes available as well. Place at least $100 in merchandise in your cart to use the $50 off code.

Since the code takes money off your grand-total, it looks like you could order different sets of these towels if you wanted to order different colors or order them as gifts with different monograms, etc.
Happy shopping!

Now onto bragging rights regarding the new finished bathroom!!
Last night we finished the main bathroom in the house. I even have some pictures!

Here's the before- the walls were a dark pinkish-mauve color and kind of a pain to cover with pale blue-green (but well worth the effort):

(This was the listing picture of the bathroom as the seller had it- Looks like he had the same TP stand that we do!)

Here are the afters:

You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

I went out to Marshalls (don't you just love that place?) and got the new bathmats, a little trashcan, and some other odds and ends.

I *also* picked up this adorable artwork (it's a print on a really sturdy piece of wood) by artist Robin Renee Hix- I'm not sure yet which wall to hang it on?


http://www.robinreneehix.com/www.robinreneehix.com/Available_Work/Pages/Beach_walks.html#5


Anyway, I promise to get back to artwork soon! ...As of last night, all of the major indoor-painting of the rooms of our new house is DONE. We just need to paint some trim and our new doors, but that will go quickly I'm sure. And once I finish organizing the office, I'll actually have some room to create some new art! Yay!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Want! Want! Wednesday- the Pollinator Tree!

It's **DECEMBER** and that means it's almost CHREEEEESTMAS!

And in proper holiday fashion the catalogs have been starting to arrive like crazy, supplying plenty of fodder for upcoming holiday-themed Want! Want! Wednesday posts! Plus they worked perfectly since Want! Want! Wednesday is all about silly things that I don't need and am not going to pay this much for.....
but I like the idea of them.
(Although at the end of the post I will add, there is hope for those of us who love the items I'm featuring this week!!)

This week's Want is a Pollinator-Themed Christmas Tree! It must be the trendy new thing this year because I found decorations in not one, but TWO catalogs! Observe....

The first set of ornaments was in a catalog by a company called Grandin Road.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
While not all strictly pollinators, these garden-themed ornaments are simply adorable, no?

(I am not sure where all of the other ornaments on this tree came from; I wish the catalog had them all.)
I do wish there were some bees! That's one thing I haven't been able to find... a bee ornament. I've been thinking about making some.


But in this little collection you get 25 ornaments for $99. Actually not a bad deal! That's about $4 an ornament. So this Want is actually obtainable.


The direct link to these items from their website can be found here:
http://www.grandinroad.com/jump.jsp?item=42281&maincatcode=null&subcatcode=null&itemID=31019&itemType=PRODUCT&path=1%2C2%2C474%2C6382%2C7946&iProductID=31019




I got another catalog in the mail yesterday from a company called Gump's which, honestly with the prices of some of the stuff, I have no clue how they got my info or why they sent it to me. Even their website says "Luxury Gifts..." but whatever.
(click to enlarge)
Super cute, right? There is even a grasshopper!
You can see their entire ornament collection here:
http://www.gumps.com/HOLIDAY+SHOP/Christmas+Ornaments/

Now I'll let you in on the best part of this week's Want.
It IS obtainable!

I saw the first set of these ornaments a week ago and didn't buy them but couldn't stop thinking about them. Then I went into an AC Moore with my mom this weekend and.... there they were. Not these, specifically, but *some* bug ornaments! There were butterflies and dragonflies and all were 50% off, so each was $1.99. I picked up 10 of them and figured even if I have to just do a very little tree, I'll be able to have a Pollinator tree this year.
At the Harris Teeter store down the street, they were also doing a sale on ornaments and I scored two glittery hummingbirds! Yay for more pollinators!

So if you love the idea of a pollinator-themed Christmas tree this year but the items here are out of your budget, just keep your eyes open for deals all around you! Looks like bugs and birds are the new thing!

Happy Decorating!! :)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How-To Tuesday: Autoplay Music on your Blog

HahAhAhaHAhaAhaHAhaahahhaaa!!!

Did you really think I was serious?

If I was going to do a post on "how to make music autoplay when someone opens your blog" I might as well title it, "The most efficient way to get someone to navigate away from your blog as quickly as possible" or  "How to instantly exponentially increase your bounce rate"

But seriously, I've been without internet for about a week now, AGAIN, thanks Verizon.
In the meantime I've been coming up with a bunch of fun haikus about Verizon and their internet 'service' (if you can call it that?) but none are appropriate for this blog so I won't publish them here because they'd just look like

Verizon &$#*!! &$(#
*$*#& Verizon (### *$##**@!!! 
*$!*#& Verizon.

So while my internet is working for more than three consecutive minutes (probably sporadically because they're fixing an outage somewhere in the area) I'm actually working on tomorrow's blog post, because I came up with it last week but couldn't post it AND. HAD. A. SAD.

But now you don't have to has a sad because I wrote a ridiculous blog post for today AND am writing a super cool Want! Want! Wednesday post with some very exciting goodies in there!

And in the meantime here is a silly Mantis.

No, I haven't been drinking, but am sort of on a burnt (on purpose) cookie and key-lime buzz.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How-To Tuesday: Insert a YouTube video into a blog post

Blogger has a simple button for adding video into your blog, but (at least on my computer) it's upload only. That's only useful if you currently own a video camera that doesn't involve tapes.

Or maybe you DO own a digital video camera AND you're technologically cool enough to have your own YouTube channel and you'd rather link to (and promote) that rather than upload the video into your blog. (Makes sense, since Blogger does have a limit on how much stuff you can actually upload into your blog.)

Or maybe you found a super cute video, or a really interesting news clip or story, or a great music video that you want to share.



Who wouldn't want "Party All The Time" at least somewhere on their blog??

So here's how to do it.

1. If you're already on YouTube, find the video you want to share.

2. Underneath the video, click "Share" and then click "Blogger."

3. A new window will pop open (if you're not signed into your blog, it'll ask you to) and you can create a post with the video right in there.

That's it!

Note: I actually didn't even know YouTube made it this easy til I went to write this post. I was going to go on about clicking "embed" and then copying the code and then clicking "edit HTML" in your blog post and pasting the code in there. Which you can also do. But this is so much more user friendly!! :)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Want! Want! Wednesday

MY OWN PRIVATE ISLAND!!!

And you, too, can get one..... for as low as a few hundred thou, right here:
http://www.privateislandsonline.com/

Actually I was wrong!! There are islands right in the US under $100,000:
http://www.privateislandsonline.com/sale-price-under-250K.htm

Here's a rock, literally, you can buy in Honduras for just $1.7 mil:



Here's the cheapest island on the site: Located in Panama, it has nothing but some woods and a toilet on it (I think you can even see the toilet in the photo) for a cool $30k.


Sweet, here is one right in Maryland. So if I wanted to escape to my PRIVATE ISLAND without being visually raped by the new so-called-porno-scanners at the airports, I can just triathlon my way there from my home in VA:


Hm. It looks like it's in a damn marsh.


Anyway....
HAPPY SHOPPING!
What a great gift idea for that really hard-to-shop-for person in your family.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How-To Tuesday #4: Blog Comments

A friend of mine asked me a while back why you can post comments on some blogs and they show up right away, others say they're waiting for moderation, and still others require you to type in some magic password for your comment to appear.

I had never given much thought to it. I wasn't concerned enough over spam or, worse... haters, that I want to be emailed every time someone leaves a comment so that I can approve it. I like to think my target audience is mature enough not to leave a comment saying simply "Sam sucks!!!" (And if you're going to, at least tell me WHY I suck! Be constructive with your feedback.)

In order to view and change the various options that Blogger offers in regards to comments, head to your dashboard (or posting area) in Blogger and click on Settings, then on your Settings page click Comments in the menu right below that.

 
Now you'll see a whole page of stuff! Soooo many options! :)

First option is to show or hide comments. Pretty intuitive what that's all about.

Second: Who can comment? Again the options are pretty intuitive.
I am not sure which Blogger defaults to, but I know that I had to go in and change it to allow for anonymous comments. A friend of mine had tried to comment and couldn't- so if you want your blog open to comments from anyone and everyone, click the first option, "Anyone: includes anonymous users."

I'll skip ahead to Comment Form Message. This is just the message that shows up above the box in which readers comment. Most people write a quick sentence saying hello to their readers or encouraging them to leave a comment, etc. This only shows up when the reader clicks "Leave a comment" or clicks to read existing comments.

Below that you see Comment Moderation. Here's the one most bloggers are primarily concerned with. Your options are: Always, Only on posts older than # (the default is 14) days, or Never. I've always left mine on Never, but apparently Blogger will notify you via your dashboard if you've got comments waiting for approval. They also give you the option to be emailed when you receive an anonymous comment.

After some consideration while writing this post, I'm actually going to change my comment moderation to Comments on posts older than 7 days. I always feel bad when I go back to a really old post and see comments on there that were left months ago, and I had no idea. This way hopefully I can respond to everyone if they have questions about something.

The option immediately following this is Show word verification for comments? Simply yes or no. I guess this prevents spam-bots from attacking or leaving upperdeckers on your blog. Mine was defaulted to Yes but I'll change it to No and see how it goes. I hate typing in those words!

Then you can choose whether or not to show profile images next to comments, and lastly you can enter your email address so when you get comments for approval- if you choose that option- you will get an email (and probably a notification on your dashboard too).


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Want! Want! Wednesday!

I see a lot of "Wordless Wednesday" posts on other blogs and thought filling your heads with even more consumerism than you already have by default if you're living in America might be kind of entertaining. So I'm going to do an occasional "Want! Want! Wednesday" post. Just for fun.

Side note!
Ok, but really, YES... I still hate consumerism and everything wasteful. I also hate how even when you try NOT to give in to it, sometimes you still need to. And that's just the way it is. However, Want! Want! Wednesday is just about fun stuff that I (or you) might be dreaming about.... but probably not about to go out and actually buy. Because then it would just be "Have Wednesday" which doesn't have as nice a ring to it, and would end up turning my blog into something like an episode of MTV's Cribs. Is that still on? Or is it now that dumb show about the teenagers and all the stuff they 'have' when really it's just their rich parents who bought them all that useless crap? Well, anyway.

So here it is! Week 1!


Want Want WANT!!

Seriously, how CUTE is this light fixture for a beautiful tropical-style home!

AND...
They even have a sconce that goes with it!


We're replacing a few of the lighting fixtures in our house (I've got two black rooster ones if anyone wants 'em?) and while looking around for new ones online I came across these. My husband saw it up on the computer screen and knew right away that I liked it and he asked me about it- I can't believe he didn't talk smack to me about it- anyway, even I know that it would look totally out of place in our home. Plus even if I had insisted on getting it, I can't think of any place we would hang it. They're beautiful and unique, no doubt, but probably don't have a place here... which is why they'll both continue to be Want! Want! and admired from afar.................

What silly things do you continue to admire but would never actually go out and purchase... because the item is just not practical, is too expensive, or ya just don't need it?


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How-To Tuesday: Tag Cloud in Blogger

Heads up! THIS one is going to be a doozy!
 
First of all, what's a "Tag Cloud"?
Look to the lower right of my blog and you'll see this:

That's a Tag Cloud! Or Label Cloud. It's a snazzy way of displaying all the tags/labels of your blog posts! Labels/Tags are just words you type in to describe your blog post and help keep certain topics organized.


Since I didn't actually make this code up, because I'm not THAT big of a nerd, it doesn't seem right for me to copy and paste it into MY blog....

Soooooo, this is the source of where I learned to do my tag cloud:
http://phydeaux3.blogspot.com/2006/09/code-for-beta-blogger-label-cloud.html

I'll get you started with placing the Labels widget on your blog, then you can follow the tutorial above.

A few prerequisites before you start:
First you need to be on Blogger for this one.
Second, you need to have a couple of blog posts.
And third, those posts need to have labels. You type them in here before publishing your post:


One glitch- make sure that at least one of your labels is used more than once. For example if your blog is an art blog, something simple like the word "art" can easily be used to label multiple posts. Other bloggers I know will actually label each of their posts with the word "blog". It's supposed to help with SEO (search engine optimization for you non-nerds).

So in the words of Montel Jordan, Thiiiiiiis is how we doooo iiiiit. Yes you're going to have to go into the "Edit HTML" tab of the posting page... EEeeeeeeeeewwwwww!!!

If you already have the Labels widget somewhere on your blog, you can go directly to the tutorial in the website above.

1.Go to the "Design" section of your blog, found either in the tabs of the posting area,

or in the upper right of your screen if you're signed in and viewing your actual blog.

2. On the "Add and Arrange Page Elements" page, click Add Gadget.


3. Pick "Labels"

4. Now click Edit HTML... muuuwhahahahha!!!!



5. Blogger will suggest you download and save your template before you start playing around with the code. If you're not that familiar with HTML, that's probably a good idea... click the link to "Download Full Template" and save it somewhere you can find it easily if you need it. Right under there is a link to upload a template, and if you need to, you can upload your saved template right there.

6. Now go to this lovely website and follow along (I promise they make it very easy) :
http://phydeaux3.blogspot.com/2006/09/code-for-beta-blogger-label-cloud.html
 


I apologize that I'm not actually the one giving the lesson here, but the tutorial they set up is so great that I'm more than happy to drive them some extra traffic over there.
AND
Since I'm sending you over there from my blog, I'll still gladly answer any questions you have about doing this!
You can email me or leave your questions in the comments. If you leave one in the comments and don't hear back from me, I'm not ignoring you, I may have just forgotten to look for new comments- so you can email me, too- you won't be bugging me :)



Happy Tag Clouding!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Productive Sunday?

Not sure how productive it will be since I slept in til 9:30; it's already 10:30 and I'm sitting here in pajamas and drinking coffee.

Nevertheless on a day like this I tend to get up and look outside and imagine a whole day of possibilities. That's what weekends are for, right? Pretty soon my weekends will become even more meaningful since I'm going back to work full-time as of November 1st. The longer hours will definitely not be fun, but I can't argue with having twice the paycheck... especially in time for the holidays.

So what's on the agenda for a day like this?

The first thing I'll do this morning while I finish my coffee is work on letters to my two representatives in the Virginia General Assembly. Remember my post about a new project I'm working on? That project is: I'm designing a new license plate for the state of Virginia. It will be a revenue sharing plate and the shared fees ($15 per plate after the first 1,000 are sold) will go to the Pollinator Partnership.

The theme for the plates is "Protect Pollinators" and I think I've got the design just about finished, but I need to get it approved by the Pollinator Partnership and get one of my representatives to agree to sponsor it.

BUT
Even if I have to change some of it, I can't help but want to share a sneak peak:


If either of my representatives approves it, then I can start collecting signatures of people who would be interested in having this plate, or better yet, actually collect the official license plate applications AND fees from folks. I need 350 by January 1st to get it approved. If I don't get enough, I'll probably have to work on it all next year and try again in 2012.

Wish me luck and please comment or contact me if you're a Virginia resident who would like a plate! And of course, I'll be posting more about this on my blog very soon.


Also for today....
I'll definitely be going for a run- I was going to go yesterday but my husband surprised me with a birthday trip to the Smithsonian to see butterflies! We even got to meet up with a couple of friends of ours who were in town for a race today. I'll upload some pictures when I find the cables that connect the camera to the computer.

I'm also hoping to get my desk finished today. I need to go buy some legs for it, and was planning just to use sawed off 2x4's but my husband wants something sturdier. And a sturdy way to attach it to the desk (which is 2 doors in an L shape). Makes sense, but will I be able to get him motivated to go out and look at hardware with me when some football game is on at 1 that he wants to watch? If not, I don't totally suck at building things and don't mind making an attempt at it!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How-To Tuesday: How to link in a blog post

This How-To Tuesday tip is going to begin with a very basic linking-lesson and then add on to it with a more advanced tip!
(If you already know all about creating links I promise this post won't be completely useless :) Just scroll down past the basic stuff- right under my caterpillar images.)

At some point most bloggers will want to link to another website through their blog- whether it's to an article, an online shop, their other blog, etc.

You can copy and paste the address of the website you wish to point to directly into your blog post but it won't be clickable. The reader will have to copy and paste it up into their address bar to get to the website.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/samanthasartstudio
^
Not clickable :(

To make a link to another website (AKA hyperlink, do they even call it that any more or am I showing my age???), decide whether you want to show the address of the site and have the reader click on it directly OR type in whatever words you want and have the reader click on your specific phrase. Observe:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/samanthasartstudio
OR
My Etsy Shop

First we'll do it by showing and using the actual address as the linky.

1. Copy and paste (or type) the address of the website you want to go to into your blog post.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/samanthasartstudio

2. Next, select all of the text of the internet address.

3. When you have your web address all selected, click Link up in the blog posting toolbar.

4. Sometimes Blogger is cool enough to figure out that you typed in a web address and probably want the link to point to that address, so it will link it automatically. If it doesn't, when the Link dialog pops up, paste or type the address into the space next to "Web Address".


5. Click OK.
You should have something that looks and works like this:


Now we'll do it by typing whatever YOU want and linking through that. (This is also how you can Rick-Roll someone.
Did you click that?
You totally did, didn't you?) 
:)

1. Click Link up in the blog posting toolbar.


2. In the dialog that pops up, write what you want to title the link where it says "Text to display" (for example, "My Etsy Shop" or "Article About Honeybees" or "Totally Definitely NOT A Rick Astley Video").

3. Enter the link address in the space next to "Web Address"

4. Click OK.
You should have something that looks like this:
My Etsy Shop

Yay!

You can also make an image a link to somewhere. So if you're selling products online, you can show your reader an image of the product and make the image clickable to take the reader directly to that product!

1. Add your image to your blog (see my How-To Tuesday about inserting images!)


2. Click on the image in your blog post; ignore the little box of options that pops up on the image.

3. Click Link in the blog posting toolbar.

4. In the dialog that pops up, enter the address you wish to go to into the space next to "Web address."

5. Your image should now work as a link! When you click it in your blog, the link should now show up in the image options pop-up.
See my link there?



Now for the SCAARRRRYYYY MOOOORE ADVANCED tip that you are going to LOVE!

If you notice most of the time in my blog, when I insert a link, it opens up in a new window or tab. It's super duper easy to make that happen- that way you don't lose your readers every time you point them in the direction of something else interesting! :)

1. First, add a link into your blog using any of the above methods.

2. In your blog post, click on Edit HTML (in the upper right corner of the blog posting window).

3.You can peek around in the HTML and see basic text of your blog post with a bunch of beautiful, glorious code around it. Look for something that looks like this:

a href="http://www.somewebaddresshere.com"

(Most browsers have a "find" function you can use. On a Mac you hit apple+F, on a Windows computer you hit Ctrl+F. This makes it pretty easy to find any phrase you like. Do a search for "a href")

4. The website your link points to will be in quotes. After the quote at the end of the web address, type a space and then:

target="_blank"
(that's an underscore before the word 'blank'.)

5. So now the code you found earlier should now look like:

a href="http://www.somewebaddresshere.com" target="_blank" 

And that should work to open all your links in a new window or tab. Yay! You can go through your whole blog post and do that to all your links- it can be tedious but is well worth it.

Hope some of you got something out of this!
Let me know what Blogger features you'd like to see in a How-To Tuesday post, or any questions you may have!

If I don't get any suggestions, next I'll write about how to make a label (tag) cloud.


Monday, October 18, 2010

New Project Idea!!

Last night on our way home from PA, I was chatting with my husband and we came up with an idea for an AWESOME PROJECT!

Awesome because it's going to combine me making art with my favorite subject matter- POLLINATORS!- with raising funds for the Pollinator Partnership!

I don't want to give away too much about the project because I'm paranoid of jinxing it or other applications of Murphy's Law ("anything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong"). So for now..... I'll just give you some visual hints! :)




In the meantime if you're starting your Christmas shopping a little early, take a look in my CafePress Bees store for great "Bee Kind!" shirts, bags, and more! All profit from these items goes to the Pollinator Partnership! :)