Thursday, January 31, 2013

Graphics & Design

I'll be honest, I really wasn't look forward to today's post. Many of you have asked about my blog's graphics and design, and I'm slightly embarrassed to share the process with you because it's far from being very professional. All week I stressed about how I would discuss this topic in a post, and then I remembered just how kind and encouraging you've been. Here goes nothing...

You are aware I'm not the most bold or courageous gal. I'm a perfectionist. These traits and a handful more kept me from starting a blog of my own. I worry a lot. I worried about whether or not my writing would come off as silly, and I worried that I'd never create graphics or take professional photos like my favorite bloggers. My lack of Photoshop skills had me feeling anxious. I wanted my blog to have a certain aesthetic. I wanted it to be professional looking and, well, perfect. As with anything in life, perfection is unattainable—my mom reminds me of this often! I finally took the plunge, and I'm really glad I did. In this case, practice makes perfect.

When I look back at some of my very first posts, I shudder. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a Comic Sans criminal, but I definitely used some pretty hokey fonts and images. My creativity felt stifled by my lack of knowledge and blogging resources. I knew what I liked and what I wanted out of my blog, but I didn't know how to execute it. As I mentioned last week, I did have some experience with Photoshop and Illustrator, but it had been years since I played around with it last. I was a little too afraid to dust off the software. It just seemed overwhelming. My urge to create graphics that conveyed the point of my posts intensified. I needed to up my blogging game. 

After toying around with online programs like Polyvore, I read an article about bloggers who created images without the fancy software. Instead, they created graphics with PowerPoint or Keynote. Huh? That didn't seem as intimidating to me, so I gave it a whirl. It worked! All you have to do is export your slides as JPEGs or PNGs. Before I knew it, I was creating images left and right. Then it occurred to me...Why not create a spiffy header? Over the past 1.5 years, my header has changed about a dozen times. With each draft, it's gotten closer to the end product I'd hoped for. It's become something I'm proud of. I feel like it personifies me best. And yes, I created it with Keynote (until recently when curiosity, Photoshop, and a personal pep talk intervened).

Most of us have access to PowerPoint or Keynote on our computers. With the resources I included in Tuesday's post (fonts, blog bling, etc.), it's really quite simple to create graphics of your own. You'll find your own groove and learn to work efficiently. I learned that when all else fails, Google it. So much of my blogging experience has been trial and error. If I create a header and it's too big for the space, I look up the dimensions. If it needs to be centered, I Google the code that needs to be embedded, hit copy and paste. Voila! There are endless amounts of YouTube videos with tutorials. It really comes down to time and whether or not you're curious enough to find the answers yourself. When you're ready, you can move on to Photoshop, CSS, and Illustrator. Baby steps, my friend. Pick out a few images, play with fonts, colors, pattern, etc. Experiment, create, and be sure to give credit where credit is due. 

For example, I created today's image with the following stream of thoughts...
  • I really love this image I pinned. It's adorable. I wonder how I could incorporate it into the post?
  • Hmm, I wonder what it would look like if I got rid of the background...
  • Isn't that cute? Now what to do?
  • Ooh, fonts! Let's play around with some of my favorite free downloads (
  • Straight is boring. I should play with the alignment of the letters a little bit.
  • I wish there was another pop of color... What about this amazing painting by Emily Rickard? I wonder if there's any way I can use it.
  • I really love this particular group of colors at the top of the artwork. Maybe I could use it as a stripe or border for the image?
  • This is starting to come together quite nicely. Oh, and I better save the links for proper attribution in my blog post.

While I discuss my Type-A tendencies frequently,  you must know that my creative side will occasionally trump my orderly and systematic ways of thinking (as evident above). Whenever I get the urge to create, I usually end up making some sort of collage. I've done this since grade school. I think it's my way of making something that reflects the way I'm feeling. Collages come easy to me because I think it's how my ADD brain works. When I'm excited or inspired, I'm all over the place. That's precisely how a collage is executed. Pair your inspiration with your skill level and Tim Gunn it—make it work!

Blogging is a process. I can't stress that enough. Learn to love the process. With each post you create, you're one step closer to perfecting your skills. Be daring and put yourself out there. I have to remind myself of this quite frequently. Blogging is such a fulfilling way to express yourself. 

P.S. Here's a helpful tutorial for creating product collages with Photoshop (via A Beautiful Mess).

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Need Read Greed

I was elated when Cara-Mia expressed an interest in sharing her Need Read Greed selection with us. Simply put, the girl has fabulous taste. She emailed me back in December and I was introduced to her blog, Typed for Miles. I was hooked and had to add her to my list of daily reads. I'm certain you'll feel the same way. Here are her picks:
  • NeedI absolutely must start my day with coffee. Each day starts off with a mug of coffee and catching up on blogs. (Image)
  • ReadI love to read, so picking just one book is so hard to do! However, I have a soft spot for 20th century American literature and one of my all-time favorite novels is John Steinbeck's East of Eden. It is such an amazing novel with three story lines. I've read this twice and I know I will read it many more times to come. (Image)
  • GreedThese J.Crew ballet flats are the perfect color combination! If I could, I would own J.Crew ballet flats in every color available. (Image)
Thanks for sharing, Cara-Mia! Maybe one of these days we can meet in person for a coffee date.

Have a swell Wednesday!
P.S. Interested in sharing your Need Read GreedEmail me.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blogging Resources

Blogging resources? No problem. There are a gazillion different websites out there and everybody has an opinion. Surround yourself with inspiration and resources, but blog YOUR way. Over the past 1.5 years, I've scrolled through enough posts to make my index finger permanently numb. Despite the lack of feeling or sensation, I'd say I've been victorious in my efforts. The following posts and sites are fabulous references. Buckle up buttercup, this list is long.

Blogging Tips:
Blogging for Beginners: Blogger or Wordpress?

Layout & Design:
10 Blog Layout Tips via Katrina of Pugly Pixel
Patterns, Backgrounds, and Blog Buttons via Dear Miss Modern

Tutorials & Online Courses:
Alt Channel: Online courses taught by bloggers and social media experts.

Plan Blog Posts and Blog Brainstorming via A Beautiful Mess
Organization for Bloggers via Creature Comforts
5 Tips for Staying Inspired via A Beautiful Mess

Photography & Clipart:


I realize this list of helpful tidbits is lengthy, but it's meant to be revisited. I could touch on each and every topic myself, but there's really no need to reinvent the wheel. This is the sort of list I would have liked to stumble upon when I started blogging. I consider this compilation of sites and articles bookmark worthy. I hope you find it handy! Later this week, I'll share some of the lessons I've learned from blogging and the goals I've set for this year.

Now, what did I miss? What are your go-to blogging resources?

Credits: Bulb Type / A / Fine3  // Go SansDon't Bring Me Down / FArt  is...Be Bold or ItalicAdventureK
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Get Inspired!

Happy Monday! I hope you had a swell weekend. I figured the best way to kick off blog week would be to discuss inspiration. We're all influenced by various sources. For me, bright colors, beautiful design, typography, and artwork, instantly get my creative juices flowing. Blogging is worthless unless you post about what interests you most. Readers will sense the lack of originality and passion in your writing and graphics. It shouldn't feel forced. The point of blogging is NOT to appeal to everyone. In fact, what I love most about the blogosphere is that there's a niche for everyone. Just be yourself. Before you know it, you'll be surrounded by a community of like-minded friends who look forward to your daily posts and encourage you. If I'd known a few years ago that there were this many people who love Gin and Bravo as much as this gal, I would have started blogging a long time ago. If you blog or you're considering one, hone in on your interests and consider your passion. Here's where I find inspiration...
  • Books: A beautiful book is enough to make my heart skip a beat. Whenever I feel like I'm in a creative rut, I turn to my bookshelves first. I've been fortunate enough to receive some pretty fabulous ones from my family as gifts. Because I adore a handful of artists, I typically like to surround myself with coffee table books featuring these artists and their work. I recently treated myself to Kate Spade's Things We Love book. It is amazing! I have a feeling I will continue to refer to this gem for awhile. Some of my favorite books include Grace: A Memoir, Blog Inc., Diana Vreeland after Diana Vreeland, Little Book of Lettering, Eames: Beautiful Details, and The Pursuit of Happiness. Books are a great investment—they serve as a perfect source of inspiration and double as decor. Does it get much better?
  • Blogs: I've followed blogs since college, and it's been fun to watch some of my favorite bloggers become so successful. I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I've been influenced by them over the years. They seem like they're having a blast and many of them are so genuine. I love that they maintain such a personal rapport with their readers. Blogs I find aesthetically amazing include Fabulous K, Note to Self, Oh Joy, and Designlovefest. I'll share more of my faves later this week. Stay tuned.
  • Everyday: If you scroll to the bottom of One Fine Day and look for the attribution, you'll see the following tag line: Finding beauty and humor in each day. That is essentially the point of this blog. I started posting with the intent to share the things that bring me the most joy on a daily basis. Flyboy is gone frequently, and there were moments at the beginning of our adventure in Hawaii that left me in pursuit of my purpose and personal happiness. Blogging helped me focus on all the good things in my life and gave me a platform to share it with family and friends. Some of my most popular posts deal with quirky anecdotes that delight in the mundane and Instagram images that feature life's little details. I never imagined these posts would be such a hit, but I believe readers like a glimpse into the blogger's life. I think it keeps things personable and authentic.
  • Journaling: It's safe to say that the day I learned to write was the day I started carrying some sort of notepad or notebook with me. I think that's just one of the reasons I'm such a stationery fiend. Journals are a trusty companion. They've accompanied me to the Musee d'Orsay in Paris on multiple occasions, and they've brought me comfort at Hawaii's most breathtaking beaches. I think it's crucial to keep one handy if you're a creative type. There's something incredibly therapeutic about jotting down an idea, scribbling a quick list, or doodling your thoughts. I keep a journal at my desk that's devoted to blogging. There's a perpetual list of post ideas that comes in handy when I stare at a blank computer screen. About 75 percent of the ideas are worthless, but it's just part of the process. 
  • Pinterest: I know that some people have commented that Pinterest is killing blogs. I disagree. For me, it acts as a wonderful tool to organize ideas and images that I could potentially incorporate into future posts. It's also been a fabulous resource to learn about new blogs, artists, DIYs, recipes, etc. If you blog for YOU and be yourself, Pinterest can only act as a positive resource to drive traffic and distribute original content. I think Holly Becker of Decor8 said it best, "The point is that none of us can repetitively toss up photos and leave it at that on our blogs. A little chit chat is needed... If you want to add value through your blog content then put your heart into it. Be a bit more bold and lay your opinions openly out there, express yourself more freely than ever, be honest and funny, be yourself… Blog YOUR way. That will set you apart from the pack." 
  • Magazines: Similar to books, magazines serve as one of my favorite sources of inspiration—I have stacks of them! Sometimes it's nice to escape to some cozy corner of the house and revisit past issues. When I get a little one-on-one time with my collection of Domino and Blueprint, it's like visiting an old friend. They're just as lovely as I remembered! These glossies always leave me grinning from ear to ear.

So, what inspires you? How do you come up with blog posts?
P.S. I tweaked the comments section a bit over the weekend by including the Disqus widget. I think it will offer a more user-friendly way to moderate and respond to comments. Past comments should be uploaded over the next few days. Hopefully, there aren't any glitches!

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh, Hello!

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Friday Fabulosity: $50 or Less

Each week, I usually wind up browsing the Saatchi Online Gallery astonished by the brilliant work of Claire Desjardins. For some reason or another, it was her painting, Don't Judge Me, that spoke to me this time around. I decided to run with the piece as inspiration for this Friday's Fabulosity. I've chosen a handful of items that are $50 or less, and coincidentally they all coordinate with the colors of the painting. It's Friday m' dears, why don't you treat yo self...

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon
Happy Thursday, sweet readers! I'm going to keep today's post short and simple. I hope you don't mind. Over the past few months, I've received a handful of emails regarding my blog's header, design, and daily graphics. I'm so tickled that you enjoy the overall aesthetic of the blog, but I'm always a little hesitant to respond because I'm in NO way an expert when it comes to HTML, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. I took a magazine design course my senior year of college and experimented with the software; however, I never really had a reason to put it to use until I started blogging 1.5 years ago. Because of the lapse in time, my computer design skills are fairly rusty. I feel like I'm constantly learning, and I think that's what I enjoy most about it. Over the course of dear ol' bloggie's lifetime, my header has changed numerous times and the process in which I create posts has evolved. I'm sure there are easier ways for me to throw graphics together, but I've found a groove. I've also learned that curiosity is key when it comes to blogging, and thanks to Google and YouTube, I know there's always a video or tutorial out there for me to reference. Since I started blogging, I've found so many great resources that have either inspired or instructed me to a better blog. I know I've got so much to learn, but I feel like I should share what information I do have.

All of this rambling leads me to the following question... Would you be interested in me sharing some of the information I've found? We could make a week of it —wait for it—we could call it Blog Week. That's so original, I'm aware. You can look forward to me sharing some of my favorite blogs, how I organize my reader, create posts and graphics, where I find inspiration, my blogging goals, etc. My hope is that it would get a dialog started and we can exchange information. Let's face it, most of us don't have the funds or resources to attend fancy conferences like Alt Summit or Blogshop—although I'd love to! I just think we can stand to learn a lot from one another.

What are your thoughts? Please feel free to be completely honest. I really don't want to bore you. I only want to do this if you'll enjoy it! If you're for the idea, are there any topics or questions you'd like for me to answer or address? If you poo-poo the notion, you won't hurt my feelings. I will just go back to regularly scheduled programming—to the land of fabulous finds and love lists. Feel free to share your two cents by emailing me or commenting below. 

I'm sorry today's post wasn't fancy, but every now and then it's important that we take care of bloggie business.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Need Read Greed

Today's Need Read Greed picks, courtesy of the lovely Mandy Kellogg Rye from Waiting on Martha...
  • NeedLucite Trunk. I have a cozy little sitting area in my master bedroom that's in need of a coffee table and right now I'm having a major lucite moment. I've been mixing lucite pieces all throughout my home to add a more modern and fun spin to what is mostly a classic look. I love this because it will fit numerous places, like when I'm over it being in the master I'm sure it will wind up in my office. The question is, do I put anything in the trunk or leave it empty?
  • Read: Kate Spade Things We Love Coffee Table Book. No one does color and fun as well as Kate Spade, so I can't wait to get my hands on her new book, "Things We Love". It will be the perfect addition to my expanding coffee table book collection.
  • GreedDunes and Duchess Candelabras and Lights. Created by photographer Michael Partenio and stylist and editor Stacy Kunstel—these are major, major show stopping pieces for the home. They come in a multitude of colors and would truly complete any room. I'm not sure what I love more...the candelabras or the lights?

Fabulous choices, Mandy! And you can find some of my latest and greatest finds on Mandy's blog today. 
Hop on over, and bookmark her blog while you're at it!

Have a swell Wednesday!
P.S. Interested in sharing your Need Read Greed? Email me.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Take Five Tuesday

Some of my latest and greatest scouted selections on Etsy. 
Note: They're so cute, it will take everything inside you NOT to push that little heart button.
  1. Happy Valentine's Day Notecard Set by Quill & Fox—This may just be the valentine I send out this year!
  2. Handmade Stamps by Creatiate—Their designs are oodles of fun. I'm particularly smitten with the arrows and the scalloped monogram.
  3. Heart Bowls by Ross Lab—According to my latest Etsy faves, love is in the air. These whimsical ceramic bowls are no exception.
  4. Reclaimed Apothecary Matchstick Bottle by Jensa—I wouldn't mind a bottle of these. It's both functional and aesthetically pleasing!
  5. Navy Ric Rac Pillow Cover by Arianna Bella—While Lil' Puna has its perks (and problems), I dream about the day we update some of our throw pillows. I love the ones we have, but they've faded terribly from the intense sunlight. I could see this one propped on the couch quite nicely!

What about you? Any new vendors or Etsy favorites that I should know about?

P.S. Thanks for your patience as I try to figure out my Wacom tablet. I set out to put together a great blog post and before I know it, I've doodled the day away. This week, I'm hoping to tweak the blog design a bit and work to streamline my font choices for the sake of continuity. Bear with me! If you have an input, feel free to share.
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Moodboard

Floral Doodle by Jo Chambers
Happy Monday! How about a few bright and cheerful items to kick off the week?
Typographic Verses // Tassel Chain Bag // Surfboard (As decoration, of course!) // Beaded Rose Necklace // 
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Lurve Loave Luff

Let's get right to it, shall we?
Here's what made me feel all twitterpated, smile contagiously, giggle uncontrollably, etc.
  • Wacom Bamboo Tablet: It arrived on Tuesday, and reignited my creative juices—just as I'd hoped! Pardon the excessive doodling for the next week or two, I'm still trying to figure it out and clearly I'm excited to share it with someone. I hope you don't mind! I think it will amp up the Ashley factor on One Fine Day. Stay tuned.
  • Spike the Punch: I think this Raspberry Lemonade calls for a splash of Gin. Who's with me?
  • Minty Fresh: Pinners must be ready for spring, because hints of mint keep popping up all over Pinterest. I was inspired by this, which inevitably got me dreaming about these Ferragamo Flats. You can't blame a girl for dreaming...
  • Jewel Pouch: I've never met a clutch from Anthropologie that I didn't adore. This raspberry gem may need to be the next addition to my collection. Pretty please!
  • Peter Pan Sweater: Pardon the morbid imagery, but I want to be buried in a Peter Pan collar. They're just so feminine and charming, and there aren't enough in my closet. This sweater is an absolute must. Oh, and the stripes... Please don't get me started!
  • Washi Tape: It's hot pink. What's not to love?
  • A Tasty Treat: After trying Dr. Oz's three-day cleanse, I was particularly excited to eat real (or non-smoothie) food again. Just as I was hoping, it helped me refocus on making better choices. Instead of dreaming of a salty or sweet snack, I've fallen hard for cucumber slices and Laughing Cow. It's my latest obsession. 
  • Love Notes: How much are we loving this sweet journal?
  • Frances & Francis: Thanks to Fabulous K's post this week, I learned about these everlasting flowers by Frances & Francis. They're gorgeous!
  • Strawberry Nutella Poptarts: What a darling idea; however, it's not helping me curb my sweet tooth. Perhaps including them on the ol' blog will be satisfying enough?!
  • Obstacles: Just when I think I've picked out a favorite print from the Note to Self shop by Sarah Tolzmann, I find another one that takes the cake. This week, I loved her quote from J.Crew's Mickey Drexler—it serves as the perfect source of inspiration.
  • Fancy Pants: This zine by Satsuki Shibuya is about a girl who is constantly being criticized by a fancy pair of pants. It looks charming!
  • Weekend Duffle: I really wish I had a reason to pack this adorable duffle and hit the road. It's so perfect, I think it would be worth planning a trip around the bag. That sounds absurd, but totally worth it!
  • Hepcat Shades: These classic sunglasses are just calling my name. I hear them saying, "Hey, you... let's hang out and soon!"
  • Packed with Love: I love this idea so much, I can't stand it.
  • Hair Ties: These are my favorite, and I just discovered they have polka-dot ones. Eek!

Once again, thanks for stopping by. It means so much to me. Enjoy your weekend!
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Life List Updates

As a self-proclaimed list-making maniac, I realize there's no point to jotting down one's to-dos unless you actually experience the satisfaction of crossing items off the list. That's the best part! With all this talk of resolutions and goals for 2013, it got me thinking about what I would like to accomplish this next year. Of course, that also meant I needed to revisit the ol' Bucket List (see link in header above). There was some initial hesitation to updating my Life List, but once I finally took the plunge, I was pleasantly surprised by what I had accomplished thus far.

Here's a list of items I've crossed off this past year...

There you have it! Nothing groundbreaking, but sometimes it's important to look at what you've done before you can look ahead. Whether it's big or small, what do you hope to accomplish over the next year?

Image Credit: Top Image - Guggenheim Museum by Gray Malin.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Need Read Greed

Today's Need Read Greed picks, courtesy of the lovely Ellie Ediger from Cheers to the Good Life...
  • NeedI'm in need of a new desk chair, and this saddle office chair from west elm might be the perfect fit! I love the grey striped pattern of the fabric and the clean lines of the frame.
  • ReadAlthough this adorable book is sold out right now, I'll be anxiously awaiting it's limited-edition return in March. Based on its namesake blog, The Unknown Hipster Diaries is written and illustrated by the witty and chic Jean Philippe Delhomme, and would make a lovely addition to any coffee table book collection.
  • GreedI love the darling print and the size of this flat pouch from Kate Spade. It's perfect for keeping essentials handy, and it could even be used as a clutch on an impromptu night out.
Thanks for sharing! I'll take one of each, please. 
Oh, and we can all be jealous of Ellie because she's in Paris right now in the name of work. That sounds amazing!

Interested in sharing your Need Read GreedEmail me.

Have a swell Wednesday!

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