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:

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) :

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.
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.

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.

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:

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.

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


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:

(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! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekend Inspiration

I finally decided this week that it's time to tackle..... the office. The art studio. The office/art studio.
Remember this photo? Yeah I know... It's a kitchen, not an office, but still.

Last night I started the painting process. I'm pretty excited!

I spent some time yesterday looking online for inspirational photos of great craft/art rooms and found this site via the Etsy forums:

Be sure to check it out if you've got an art studio or craft room you're in the mood to reorganize! There are so many great ideas here. I've never had a real craft/art room before, so I really didn't know where to begin.  
How do I store/display all my paints in a useful and practical way? 
How do I keep my paper cutter, mat cutter, and self-healing-cutting-mat out in the open enough to access them easily when I need them, but keep them out of the way so as not to clutter up valuable desk space?
Since I have no right to be completely selfish about this whole thing, how do I integrate my husband's desk and super-awesome awards he's gotten from work into the office/studio without making him feel like he's in 'my' room, but instead in our office?

When we first started the house-hunting process I had visions of a little room off the back of the house with a separate entrance where I could paint, make a big ol' mess, and invite clients to view my work in a private studio setting. That's a pretty specific requirement when you're under a time crunch and looking for houses in the DC area (where they move pretty fast). I decided to drop that from the priority list and focus on other things instead- things more important to family life (the kids being furbabies for now).

We ended up in this perfect not-so-typical split-level with 4 floors. I love it. We've talked about the possibilities of adding on a garage (with a sun-room on top?), and/or small sun-room/art studio in the back. It might happen one day.

For now our office/studio is a room in the back of the house among the other bedrooms. It's got one regular window and then one GIANT window.

As of about 9:00pm last night, the office looked like the mother of all disarray went in there and threw up after eating a hearty meal of boxes, art supplies, and shelves. All the random extra shelves and furniture were put back there with the thought that I'd find something crafty with which to fill them. Then add in all the paintings and computer accessories and the cat's litterbox and this desk I've had since I was 10 years old. Yes, 10. The poor 20-year-old-particle-board desk sags terribly from the weight of my old CRT monitor circa 2000 (which just got replaced this year with a lightweight LCD). Pieces of it are falling off. I knew it was time to replace it.

Well now.... this is embarrassing.
The horrific cell-phone-photo seems appropriate for something that's already such a mess, n'est-ce-pas? So there's the old desk, and yes, the litterbox, and the state of the office as of last night.

Sadly, that's an improvement from what it's looked like for the past 3 weeks.

Before I started the painting process, I begged my husband to take the door off the hinges (he thought I couldn't do it myself?). Why? Because I had plans for it. Ohhhh yes.
The doors in this house are super old and super gross and dingy and have holes in them and we want to replace them with nice 6 panel doors since that's a pretty cheap and very nice way to improve a house. I decided that one of those ugly doors was going to become MY NEW DESK. Economical, eco-friendly, practical, my husband said it looks like crap but it's for arty stuff so crap = ok! Then who cares if you get paint or ink all over it!? Happy Birthday to ME!

The very first class I attended at my college was Drawing 101 and in that studio the teacher's desk was a door with two file cabinets underneath it. I thought that was the greatest idea ever and it stuck with me. The doorknob was still on that desk, but we took the doorknob off last night so I can run wires from various electronics through the premade hole.

I'll eventually add actual legs to it (ok, sawed off 2x4's), but I had some little shelving units that I thought would be perfect to put under the desk to hold it up. Also you can see my old desk under there, since where else was I going to put it? Eventually I dismantled it and piled the pieces up on the other side of the room. I also took the hutch off the top of it- no need for that any more, and it makes the workspace feel so... closed.

I'm so in love with the door-desk that I'm going to add another one on the wall to the left to make a wonderful L shaped desk. That one will run under the GIANT window and provide a great space for drawing or other crafty things :)
There is room for my husband's desk on either two of the other walls, so I don't feel toooooooo guilty for taking up so much space.

Now everything's in a huge state of disarray once more since I had to move EVERYTHING so I could start painting, but I really hope to have it almost done by the end of the weekend or early next week.
I'll be sure to post more pictures of the process!
What a great way to have a fantastic HUGE new desk without having to buy anything!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to pack a painting for moving

How to pack up a painting:
Step 1:  Lay some bubble wrap or some sheets of white packing paper FLAT on the floor or on a table- a flat surface. (You can also use: Sheets, towels, blankets, fabric...  You can do a layer of paper and then the fabric for padding if you wish. The layer of paper will help protect from any fuzz from the fabric sticking to your painting.)
Step 2: Carefully take the painting or artwork off the wall.
Step 3: Lay it down FLAT on top of the bubble wrap or packing paper.

Step 4: Carefully fold the bubble wrap or packing paper around the painting.DO NOT BALL UP THE EXCESS! Keep it all very nice and flat. (Pretend you're wrapping a pretty gift for your mom. "Mom! Aren't you impressed with my wrapping skills? See? I told you I can be good at something!")
Step 5: Tape it together neatly.
Step 6: Place it into a box and tape the box closed.

How not to pack up a painting:
Step 1: Shove a bunch of packing paper down into a box.
Step 2. Take the painting off the wall and shove it in the box. Smush the paper.
Step 3: Fold and cram a bunch more paper around the frame of the painting and along the sides and top.
Step 4: Make sure you have excess paper to ball it up and shove it in front of or behind the canvas.

In the last 2 days I unpacked 3 paintings and two of them are damaged pretty badly. Paper- many, many sheets of folded and balled up white packing paper- was shoved around/behind/in front of the canvas and as a result I've got bubbles in my canvas the size of my fist. I'd like to find the person who packed them and give him a new hole in his head the size of my fist.
I am confident that I would be acquitted by a jury of my arteest peers.

My advice to any artist who is moving is to be sure and pack up all your own paintings. Don't make the mistake that I did and think "The movers are PROFESSIONALS! They know what they're doing! They can probably do a better job than me because THIS IS WHAT THEY GET PAID TO DO!"

I'll be looking around online for some advice on how to fix the canvas- a few products have been recommended to me by artist friends. I might call some local framing/art restoration shops and see if they can do it for me or what they would recommend.

After I get them fixed- if they can be fixed- I'll be sure to post about it so that anyone else who runs into this problem can find a solution and not cry about it like I did.

EDIT: I left the canvases sitting out and after a couple of months they, pretty much, went back to the way they were. If you look very hard you can sort of tell, from some little cracks in the paint, but they are not a total loss.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How-To Tuesday! #1

Today is the first post in what I hope to be a series, at least for a little while, called "How To Tuesday!" Many of my friends who use Blogger ask me how to do things with it- things like, put a picture in a post, put a link in a post (make that link open in a new tab or window!), put images/info along the sides of the blog, etc. I've been using Blogger for years now, and while I wouldn't call myself an expert by any means, I'm hoping I can at least share some tips- from the very simple to more advanced HTML editing- that might be useful to you :)

Today I'll start with something everyone wants to do: How to add pictures to your posts. Everyone likes to look at a blog with pictures!

First of all, where IS your picture?
Is it on your computer saved somewhere?
Or is your picture online?
If your picture is online, is it your own photo or a photo from another website? If you're using a photo that isn't your own, always be sure to get permission before you post the picture and/or give proper credit to the creator of the photo.

Here's how to upload a picture to your blog from your computer.
(This is on a Mac; I'm sure a Windows PC works in a similar way.)

1. While creating a blog post, place your cursor where you want to insert the image (you can move the image later if you wish). Look at the toolbar above your blog post. (You can hover your mouse over the different items in the toolbar to see what each of them does.)
Click the icon that looks like a Polaroid photo for "insert image."

2. Next you'll see the following dialog:

Make sure "Upload" is highlighted on the left, then click "Choose Files."

3. A navigation window will pop up where you can find and select the picture you want to upload.

4. When you click "Open" you'll see this...
Make sure the picture that you want to add is highlighted (it'll have a thick blue line around it as indicated by the yellow arrow), and then click "Add Selected."

The picture will pop up into your blog post, about this big, and centered. If you like the way the picture looks, leave it alone.

5. If you wish to align it differently, add a caption, make it larger or smaller (depending on the original image size), or remove it, click on the image- it will become highlighted and a dialog will appear:
You can click small, medium, large, or x-large to see how the image looks at various sizes. You can also choose to just leave it the original size.
If you wish to place blog text along the side of the image, click "left" or "right" and the image will move to the left or right of your blog post. Centering the image will place your text above and below it.

You can choose to add a caption to the image too, which is great for adding a photo credit or other information about the image.
Here's what the picture looks like with a caption added:
6. If you decide later that the image isn't where you want it, you can click on it and drag it around into various places in your post. Blogger makes it pretty easy :)

Here's how to place an image into your blog from somewhere else on the internet.
(This is on a Mac; I'm sure a Windows PC works in a similar way.)

1. While creating a blog post, place your cursor where you want to insert the image (you can move the image later if you wish).

2. In another window or tab in your internet browser, find the online image that you want to use. In some browsers you can right-click the image and select "View Image" and copy the address of the image from the address bar in your browser. You can also select "Properties" or "View Image Info" and most times you can find the information about the image there. Select the image address and copy it.

3. Go back to your Blogger window/post.
Look at the toolbar above your blog post. (You can hover your mouse over the different items in the toolbar to see what each of them does.)
Click the icon that looks like a Polaroid photo for "insert image."

4. When the dialog appears, select "From a URL" :
(I don't use Picasa so I'm not sure how to upload from there).

5. Paste (or type) the address of the image you wish to use into the space provided.

6. When the image appears, click "Add Selected."

The image will pop into your blog, centered and medium sized.

7. If you wish to change the size of the image, or align it to the left or right, or add a caption, click on the image. It will become highlighted and a dialog will appear.

You can click small, medium, large, or x-large to see how the image looks at various sizes. You can also choose to just leave it the same as its original size.
If you wish to place blog text along the side of the image, click "left" or "right" and the image will move to the left or right of your blog post. Centering the image will place text above and below it.

You can choose to add a caption to the image too, which is great for adding a photo credit or other information about the image (see above in this post for an example of what a caption looks like).

8. If you decide later that the image isn't where you want it, you can click on it and drag it around into various places in your post. Blogger makes it pretty easy :)

I hope this post explains two of the ways to add an image into your blog and is helpful to you!
Once you've gotten some images into your blog, if you wish to use them again in another blog post, you can select "From This Blog" in the "Add Images" dialog. Then find the image that you want to use and click "Add Selected."

Enjoy the rest of your week! :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mural finished!

It feels so great to have this done!
Right now I've just got this picture from my cell phone, but my friend is taking some pictures with her real camera and will send me some soon. You get the idea though- this was such a fun project! I can't wait to do more :)

Also as you can see if you're reading this, I did a complete re-design of my blog yesterday. I'm still tweaking it a little, but what do you think?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Funneh.

Over the last couple of weeks I'm remembering what it's like to live in a house in the woods (kind of in the woods at least) versus a highrise in the city (note: 4 stories does not a highrise make; I understand this, but it's the highest dwelling in which I've ever dwelled).

Unlike living in the city, in a house we've got.... BUGS!
Not necessarily cute cuddly fuzzy friends but nothing scary, either. The majority of them are shield bugs. The DC area's been in the news for its 2010 infestation of Stink Bugs.**

With all the recent hubbub surrounding the stink bugs, and after a few recent conversations with my husband (who is sooooooo not used to bugs in the house), I thought I'd draw up a little chart.


If you've never visited graphjam.com, NOW is the time!!!! It's Friday afternoon and I KNOW you're slacking off at work anyway.

I realized recently that the only bug I would really react to with an instant stomp is a medium sized spider. The small spiders I usually notice when I'm cleaning and I end up sweeping them up with the rest of the dust/hair/dirt and throw into the garbage.The BIG HUGE spiders (which we haven't seen yet, but I KNOW they're coming...) are just too big to kill. They make a big ol' mess and some of them JUMP. Imagine getting close enough to kill it, then it charges at you like an angry bull. NUH-UUUUUHHHH. Not dealing with that, no way. I take a piece of cardboard and a big jar or something and catch it, then open the front door and send the whole works flying out into the yard. A day or two later when I'm feeling cocky I'll go bring my stuff back in, sans spider.

But a medium sized spider? It's too big (and fast) to just sweep up and throw into the garbage. Yet, is it big enough to scare the hell out of me? Yup! Is it too big to kill? Nope. Hence why my foot, if clad in shoe, goes flying at it before I even have time to think.

** Are all shield bugs are stink bugs? Seems that way, here is an interesting article on them:

From my experience with the ones in my house- the same ones everyone's complaining about- they don't stink. Then again I haven't squished any of them. I grab them and put them outside (they don't sting or bite), or if I can't reach them I just let them go about their business. They just seem to fly around and die after a few days.