WordPress or Blogger – help me decide?

While it’s always best to feel you’ve made your own choices, sometimes going with the flow makes life so much easier.  When I set up this blog last year, I picked WordPress so that I could have more control over what it looked like.  Although I knew I could do more if I hosted the blog myself, I didn’t realise how limited it would be if I didn’t.  Simple things like following other people’s blogs, and attracting followers to mine, are such a pain that it really is a bit disheartening.  So, I thought I’d have a go at running WordPress and Blogger blogs alongside one other for a while, and choose which one I like the best.  A quick Google revealed that WordPress will export a blog, Blogger will import one, and the nice people at www.webupd8.org will convert a WordPress export to Blogger format.  Sadly, mandmade.blogspot.com has been taken (even more sadly, by someone who posted just one post in 2009 😦 ), so I’ve set up home at mandmadecrafts.blogspot.com instead.  Please come and visit me there too and leave me a comment to say which blog you prefer.  Some of the formatting (mainly of pictures) has suffered a bit in the transfer, so please bear with me while I fix it all by hand.

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Popularity – Blog prompt catch up, Day 28

Day 28’s prompt was to write about our blog’s most popular post.

This was a really useful exercise for me, as I hadn’t previously taken the time to explore all the statistics that wordpress collects.  I was really impressed – you could spend hours looking at where your readers come from, and where they visit.  If my blog was part of a business, it’d be a great tool for evaluating on-line advertising.  As it is, it provided me with an hour of happy geeking instead 🙂

In terms of number of views, 16th May was my blog’s busiest day with 81 views, 32 of which were for that day’s post “A day in life of Baby Bob aged 8 months”.  I posted about this update in a few groups on Facebook, so I think this peak says more about that than the post itself.  I’m always really excited to get comments on blog posts, as it means people were interested enough to linger and interact, so this is how I measure the popularity of my posts.  The most commented award goes to 26th May’s post “Happy day, happy card”.  As that post featured the first craft project I’d managed to complete for weeks, that makes me pretty happy 🙂

I’ve spied, with my little eye… – Blog prompt, day 27

For day 27’s blog prompt Emma wanted us to let on who we’ve been blog-stalking this week.  Before the blog prompt I was an erratic blogger at best.  I wrote little and read even less, except for the blogs of a couple of close friends.  The prompts have given me the push to write, but critically to join the blogging community by reading too.  I’ve really enjoyed exploring the blogs of my fellow prompters, not just their latest posts, but their pre-prompt ones too.  I’ve also loved getting comments (please leave me one!  It’s great to connect to new people through the blogs), and they have taken me to new blogs too.  Here are a few of the places I’ve been having fun lately:

http://coventryann.blogspot.co.uk/

http://craftyfran.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.geniushands.co.uk/

http://www.theprmummy.com/

http://craftycoops.blogspot.co.uk/

http://anniescardsandchat.blogspot.co.uk/

http://christinescraftyart.blogspot.co.uk/

http://craft-owl.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.d-dazzledscraps.com/

http://doreensdream.blogspot.co.uk/

http://glitterarti1.blogspot.co.uk/

http://powered-by-fairydust.blogspot.co.uk/

http://veecassidy.blogspot.co.uk/

http://taylor-madecards.blogspot.co.uk/

http://what-nikki-did-next.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Thanks everyone for the company!

Happy day, happy card – Blog post 17

Born to Shop new home card

Born to Shop new home card

Day 17’s blog prompt challenge was to create a cheerful card and dedicate it to someone.  Here’s the card I made, using papers and an embossing folder from the Born to Shop ‘Go Green’ collection.  Not only is it a cheerful card, but it’s about happiness, so I hope it counts 🙂  I made it as a new home card for some friends who have just bought their first home together, as I thought it was a nice way to wish that their new house is always filled with laughter.

I really like making backgrounds like this, with several coordinating papers, and it’s a good way to use up off-cuts.  It’s a technique that I think looks good with everything lined up neatly, or with a more fun layout like this.

For the main image I’ve embossed the design onto Core’dinations Whitewash cardstock and sanded it.  I applied some light colour to bring out the design and picked out the writing with a fine pen.  The frame is cut freehand.  I hope you like it!

Spring cleaning (!) – Blog prompt day 18

On Friday, Emma wanted us to confess our spring cleaning secrets, so here goes.

I’m not a great fan of any housework, with the exception of getting a huge pile of fresh laundry in from the line on a bright and breezy day and burying my face in it 🙂  Cleaning in particular just depresses me while I’m doing it – I know the bit I just did is already gathering dust, and that I’ll never have finished.  Spring cleaning is different though, as it’s well defined.  I find it hugely satisfying to tackle all the jobs that have nagged at me for ages and to get absorbed in detail of it, before shutting the door on a ‘perfect’ room.  It’s just a shame you always end up with a shoe box of weird things that don’t really belong anywhere…

Emma also wanted to know about favourite cleaners and adverts.  Well, I watch very little telly, and what I do watch is recorded, so I fast forward over the adverts.  I can’t think of any recent cleaner ads at all!  As for favourite cleaners, I love Orange Glo wood polish – it eats through all the old polish layers and leaves a gorgeous orangey smell that fills the room. As I mentioned in one of my first posts on this blog, I’m also a big fan of baby wipes for all sorts of cleaning jobs. My other favourite cleaner is white vinegar – I’ve used it with newspaper to clean windows since reading “How clean is your house”, from the Channel 4 show. What I don’t have (and unfortunately need) is a way of getting dried water-based paint out of a carpet (I didn’t notice the tin had dribbled 😦 ) If you know how to fix this, please take pity and leave me a comment – I like carpet shopping even less than cleaning!

Just one word – Blog prompt day 19

Saturday’s blog prompt was “A word”.  The challenge: to describe ourselves in one word.  Time to make that noise plumbers make when they’re about to give you an estimate 🙂  I was struggling to come up with anything other than “disorganised” for a while, but that’s just at the moment.  I go through phases of being very organised, so I didn’t think that was fair.  I asked my husband, who suggested “short” and “untidy”.  Both are sadly true, but I rejected them too.  The first was just a physical trait, the second is only half the story.  I *am* particularly talented at messing up a craft desk or a kitchen, as anyone who’s been to one of my demos or my kitchen will tell you, but I *want* everything in its place (and a place for everything).  One reason I make a mess is that I get too absorbed in the task at hand to tidy as I go.  I also have difficulty starting a job if I know I can’t finish it, and I do tend to get bogged down in reorganising my storage of things, rather than just focusing on clearing the decks.  In the end I decided to be kind to myself and plumped for “optimistic”.  Much of my messiness and lateness is the result of me thinking I can achieve more than I can in the time, rather than being disorganised as such, and I do generally think of my glass as being half full, so I think it’s a fair assessment.  Of course, this just reminds me of the old bit of job interview advice for when you’re asked for your greatest weakness: always say “I’m too much of a perfectionist”, as it’s not really a weakness after all:-)

Thanksgiving in May? – Blog Prompt, Day 20

Today’s blog prompt is “I’m thankful for…”, within the context of crafting.  Where to start?  There’s so much!  Firstly I’m thankful for any time I get to craft.  There’s not much of it at the moment, with a demanding baby to care for, but that means I appreciate any time I get all the more.  It really is a pleasure to engross myself in something calm and creative.  Secondly I’m thankful to be crafting at a time when there is so much choice available in both products and types of crafts, and so much access to help, tuition, and inspiration.  Staying informed and stimulated is so much easier now even than when I started card making just a few years ago.  Thirdly I’m thankful for my husband’s patience.  He’s not a crafter, but puts up with his home being invaded by craft supplies (and foam pad backing squares!), the interruptions to weekends when I’m doing demos, and my frequent queries about whether this project he doesn’t like looks nicer with the flowers here, there, or in both places.  Oh, and finally I’m thankful for good glues, without which we’d all come unstuck!

To scrap or not to scrap – Blog Prompt Day 16

Today’s prompt challenge is to talk about our attitudes to scrapbooking.

Nowadays I’m a keen but painfully slow scrapbooker with a long To Do list of page ideas.  It wasn’t always this way though.  I bought my first scrapbooking magazine not long after I first started crafting, and I didn’t find a single thing in the mag that I liked.  Everything was quite American, heavily decorated and very sentimental, not a stiff upper lip to be found!  It wasn’t until I saw some cleaner layouts, smaller than 12×12, that I could really imagine myself scrapping.

I love mini books

Smaller formats are still my favourite – I adore maze books and mini books, although that’s normally because they’re made in a clever way, and I’m a sucker for anything trick!  As I mentioned in My Crafting Style, I like the photo or journalling to take pride of place in my layouts.  To me, scrapbooking is a really personal hobby.  It’s about presenting my pictures and memories in a nice way, and helping them tell a story, rather than creating something pretty for its own sake.  That’s not to say I don’t think that’s worth doing, it’s just not what I want to do.  I love the idea of showing my scrapbooks to Bob when he’s older so he can see what we were like before we had him, and what his childhood was like.  It’s almost like being immortal 🙂

Sometimes it’s all about the paper!

The other great appeal to me of scrapbooking is getting to keep my creations!  I have a big box full of cards ready to send and it’s at least half full of cards I don’t really want to part with.  One great thing about scrapping is that you don’t have to feel bad about that.  I often say that I need at least two sheets of all paper designs – one to craft with and one to keep.  Papers used in layouts tick both boxes though, so it’s also a great way to hoard 🙂

There’s just one thing I don’t like about scrapping – printing out my photos – although that says more about my printer than scrapbooking.  I’m trying to get a batch of pics together to get printed, so they’re available whenever I feel like doing a layout.  If you can recommend a printing service, please leave me a comment!

My first ever scrapbook page, done for my application to docrafts – I love to include tickets and other mementos

A day in the life of baby Bob aged 8 months – Blog Prompt, Day 14

Monday’s blog prompt was “A day in the life of…” and I thought I’d feature a guest blogger.  I helped with the typing 😉

Milk! I need milk! Where’s Mummy?! Oh, there she is, phew! Mmm, lovely milk. I love milk. But where’s Daddy?! Phew! There he is, and he’s got Spot and Quacky and Bunny. Brilliant! I love playing with Daddy. And here’s Mummy again with my breakfast banana. I love bananas. Why does she keep showing me that banana, can’t she tell I’m not hungry?

Oh no, don’t change my nappy Mummy! I don’t like changes! Oh, that’s nice, I like having a dry bum. Where are we going now? Oh no, not the car seat, I don’t like that! Don’t you want to cuddle me Mummy? Ooh look, we’re at the wood! I like the trees and I love being in the carrier with Daddy. There’s Molly! I hope I can run like Molly one day, and sing like the birds, and <yawn>…

Where am I? This looks like home, but I was sure there were trees before… There’s Mummy and it’s play time! <BANG! BANG! BANG!> I love these bright cups. “SQUEEEEEAAAAAKKKK!!!!”  <BANG! BANG! BANG!>  Oh, I’ve fallen over backwards.  Luckily there’s always something soft behind me.  Daddy’s come to pick me up!  Where are we going?  The park with Molly!  I love the park.  “Wo! Wo!”  I keep talking to Molly, but she doesn’t seem to understand me.

Home again and there’s my Mummy with my lunch!  Mmm, fish and vegetables, my favourite.  Yum, yum, I love how cheesy mash feels in my hand.  I wonder if it feels nice in my ear as well?  I’m very full now.  Ooh grapes!

Ooh good, more time on my playmat!  I could play for ever.  Mummy!! Cuddle me!! <yawn> …

Where am I?  On Mummy’s lap, my favourite place.  Oh look, Daddy’s got the carrier again, we’re all going to the park!

Home again and Daddy’s staring at that shiny screen again, and pressing all the buttons I’m not allowed to touch.  I’ve got a great view of Mummy playing with food from my high chair.  I’m not allowed to touch anything in here either – Mummy says it’s all ouchy.  It’s dinner time!  Now I get to play with the food!  I’m very full now  Ooh peaches!

Ooh good, more time on my playmat!  I could play for ever.  Mummy!!  Milk and cuddles!! <yawn> …

And that’s why I get nothing done!

My Crafting Style – Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 4

Day 4’s blog prompt was ‘my crafting style’, which is a problem for me, as I’m not sure I have one any more! Before I became a do crafts demonstrator, I’d say my style was quite minimalist, symmetrical and obsessively precise.  I measured everything, and the closest I got to distressing anything was tearing mulberry paper along a wet line 🙂  One of my favourite things about demoing is that I get to work with products of all styles and types, not just those I’d automatically choose for myself, and that it pushes me to create projects that will appeal to as wide a range of crafters as possible.  I’m happy to say that it really has broadened my crafting so much that my own style has assimilated all sorts of influences along the way.  I’ve tried a wider range of crafts over the years too, like jewellery making, and that in turn has influenced my papercrafting.  I still do tend towards the minimalist and symmetrical, but the measuring has definitely gone out the window 😉  One style I’ll always enjoy is to make a card or page that looks like something else, or presents a scene.

My scrapbooking is a bit more conservative.  I prefer the photos (or journalling) to be the dominant thing on the page, and I like as many of the embellishments as possible to relate to the story I’m telling on the page.  As a consequence, it takes me an absolute age to complete a layout, and this is a hang-up I hope to get over when I start scrapping in earnest for baby Bob, otherwise I’m going to have to live an awfully long time if I’m going to have something to pass on to him!

I’ve picked a few piccies from my crafting history, oldest ones first, that I think are most typical of what I’ve preferred to make. Looking at these I realise that maybe I do have a style after all!

My minimalist beginnings

I’ve always loved flowers and butterflies

I do like things to match…

Mmm, symmetry 🙂

Ooh look, more symmetry

Uh-oh…

Oh, and I never remember to check it’ll fit in the envelope.

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