Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NEPA Arts & Crafts: December 2012


Welcome back, arts-and-craftsters! This month's agenda for NEPA Arts & Crafts is short and sweet enough to get your inspiration on with time to spare before the holidays! All of these events are within the first two weeks of the month, so if you're looking to get some handmade holiday gifts or learn how to get your Christmas craftiness on, the time to act is now! As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to submit any artsy-crafty events or those that feature the work of NEPA-local artisans to shubette.etsy[at]gmail[dot]com!

11/30 - 12/02  Ladies Craft Getaway Weekend @ Spruce Hollow Farm, Gibson
12/01 - Christmas Craft Fair @ The Geneva School, Olyphant
12/01 - Craft Fair @ Bloomsburg Area HS, Bloomsburg
12/01 - Craftfest/Musicfest @ Stroudsburg Junior High, Stroudsburg
12/01 - Craft Show @ Athens Twp. Fire Hall, Sayre
12/01 - Dickens of a Christmas @ Main St., Wellsboro
12/01 - Holiday Craft Fair @ Choconut Valley Elementary, Friendsville
12/01 - Holiday Craft Show @ Blue Mountain HS, Schuylkill Haven
12/01 - Holiday Festival & Craft Fair @ South Elementary, Wallenpaupack
12/01 - Holiday Shopping Craft Fair @  Top of the World Complex, Bushkill
12/01 - Holiday Shopping Day @ Play Plaza, Exeter
12/01 - Old Fashion Christmas @ Main St., Schuylkill Haven
12/02 - Craft Fair @ Riverside High School, Taylor
12/07 - Bell, Book & Kindle Dance @ Best Western Inn, Matamoras
12/07 - 12/08 Tessem Stoneware Show @ Carriage House Market, Hanover
12/07 - 12/09 Winterfest Arts & Crafts Show @ various locations, Hawley
12/08 - Holiday Gift Fair @ Pittston Memorial Library, Pittston
12/08 - One Stop Holiday Shop @ JM Hill Elementary School, East Stroudsburg
12/08 - One Stop Holiday Gift Shop @ Lehighton Borough Annex Bldg, Lehighton
12/08 - 'Tis the Season Craft Fair @ Troy Intermediate School, Troy
12/09 - Pasta Dinner & Craft Fair @  Wyoming Area Secondary Center, Exeter
12/09 - SPCA Craft & Gift Shopping Fundraiser @ Italian American Citizen's Club, Exeter

On-going events:

1st 3 wkends in Dec. - Old Time Christmas @ various locations, Jim Thorpe
Saturdays - Moose Exchange Community Market @ Moose Exchange, Bloomsburg
Wed - Sun - Marketplace @ 10th Street Plaza, Bloomsburg

Monday, November 26, 2012

DIY: Navigation Menu for Blogger

Do you remember my ecstatic blog post about My New Navigational Menu? It was so easy to do that I've actually changed it again since then, but I felt that someone with a little less experience in doing so might have difficulty getting started on this project. That's how this tutorial was born! If you need any assistance understanding this tutorial or if you feel there's a matter that I could further elaborate on, feel free to let me know in the comments!

Today I'll be showing you how to put together your own horizontal navigation bar and slice it up using Adobe Photoshop! To do this yourself, you should already have a design in mind for this element of your blog, and be able to work your way around an image manipulation program. For those of you that don't have a version of Photoshop, I can highly recommend the GIMP. GIMP stands for "GNU Image Manipulation Program" and is a great free alternative with very similar features.

Creating your image

First, you'll need to make an image for your navigation bar. Open your image editor and create a new file with a transparent background that is no wider than your header, or else it won't fit into the allotted space. As for the height, I like to start with around 100 pixels so I have some elbow room, with the intention of cropping it down to size later. 
 

Rename the current layer "Background". On the Background layer, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to  select an area that is equal to the size you want your navbar to be, and fill it with your intended background color.


Using the Horizontal Type Tool (T), add the links that you would like to be included and position them appropriately.


Finally, feel free to spruce it up in any way you see fit! Creating a new layer for each additional embellishment will help to keep things organized and make it easy for you to come back and edit each aspect separately!


Once you've finished, crop your image down to the closest edge and save your image as a PSD file (or XCF if you're using GIMP).

 

Slicing your image

Carefully consider which portions of your image will be sliced into links! When you use the slice tool, you are literally cutting your image into pieces that will be saved as individual images, and you will need to put them back together with HTML later.

From the "View" menu, select "Show > Slices" and get out your Slice Tool (K).


You may notice that your image now has the number 1 in the upper left hand corner. As you cut into your image, each new piece, or slice, will be assigned a number. These numbers will help you to identify which piece you're working with when you're arranging them using HTML.

Now it's time to start slicing! Your slice tool will allow you select a rectangular area; use this to outline the sections of your image that you intend to make into links. When you've finished, your links should be outlined in blue, as well as the little box in the corner that displays your slice number. The areas that are not designated links will be greyed out.


I wanted my slices to span the entire height of my image; this will prevent me from having to stack images atop one another when I'm putting them back together.

Now it's time to export your navigation bar! Select "Save for Web & Devices" from the "File" menu and save your project. (If you'd like a quick run-down of this area of Photoshop, be sure to check out this post!)

Once you've gotten this far, congratulations! You can move on to uploading your files and applying it to your blog! There's a really thorough video tutorial that covers how to do this by Katrina over at Pugly Pixel, which is a really great blog that covers a pretty vast amount of blog design tips and services. Thanks for reading and best of luck in your bloggy endeavors!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 7


Hello there and happy Thanksgiving! I'm sure many of you may be very familiar with the story of the feast that sparked this American tradition, but Thanksgiving is a holiday that is celebrated in many different countries in many different ways. This includes feasts, festivals, parades, religious services, and martial arts demonstrations, but no matter your method of celebration, the idea is the same: spend time giving thanks for what you're happy to have.

The tale of the first Thanksgiving here is ambiguous, but the celebrations carried on are in praise of our beautiful country and the events in history that led to where we are now. Today I'd like to conclude my Week of Thanks by proclaiming how thankful I am for the land I live on.

Every four years, the United States government takes the time to stop and ask its people what they want for our country. The citizens can go to their local voting booths and cast their ballots, touching on all matters, small and controversial. They can choose to affiliate themselves with a certain political party, or with none at all. They can choose between candidates that are pro-life or pro-choice, that have various ideas for energy farming and conservation, candidates that want to end wars or take us to Mars, with different religious backgrounds, morals, and ideals. If you don't like any of the candidates, you can choose to not choose at all. There will never be a perfect candidate and it's certainly not a perfect system, but I'm thankful that I live in such a nation that allows me to contribute my own voice to help build a better future.

My country is beautiful and free, and no matter where I may wander, this land is my home. I'm thankful for the people that I share it with and the traditions we celebrate together here. Here's wishing you a glorious feast this Thanksgiving Day as well as a big thanks to you, for reading and helping my blog grow. Enjoy the holidays!

If you missed any of the posts from my Week of Thanks series, you can find them all here!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 6

Since Brad and I moved into our cozy little basement, we have been enjoying the rustic ambiance of the fireplace that we use to heat our room. While it was quite fun at first, watching and soaking up the heat of the fire every day and night, the whole situation gets terribly old after awhile - from starting the fire to hauling the wood inside, not to mention everything that takes place prior to that - it's all just a great deal of work. I can honestly say that it's a nice feeling, to work and earn your heat, to put time and effort into your own survival. There's a certain kind of pride that comes with taking matters into your own hands that you just don't get from allowing a company to take care of you with all its crazy futuristic heating gadgets. I'm just kidding, of course. The basement is the only room that requires the fireplace for heat. Anyway...

When my father tried to start his business from home, he put together a photo album of polaroids to showcase his work to prospective buyers. He didn't have a website or know where to get one. His business grew by word-of-mouth, by family, friends, and people that he met at social gatherings. He didn't track his blog views or monitor the reach of his Facebook page or list his items on Etsy. My dad just made things and sold them.

Let me say now that I am thankful for the technology that is available to me today. It makes things easier, and I love designing with the tools that I have on my desktop and marketing myself using the web. There are so many things that our devices can do for us now that they couldn't do 15 years ago, especially when it comes to growing your business. You can accept credit card payments and write blog posts from your cell phone, and you can put yourself on every social media platform that you think your target market is hiding in, but you can also get lost for hours in a world that isn't really there.

What I am more thankful for is that I realize what my father had that I do not possess. My father could make and do and sell things because he didn't have the distractions of the internet bringing him down. He could email his contacts when necessary, of course, but he wasn't getting into every social networking site he could find and creating Pinterest boards for each of his intended projects. All he did was put himself where his buyer was and finish work that he started.

My computer may make my business experience run a whole lot smoother and provide tons of resources, but what it comes down to is that my computer isn't sewing up my next handbag or preheating my glue gun for me. It's so wonderful to be thankful for all the things we have to aid and comfort us, but today I think it's time to be thankful for what we're capable of without our computers and the work that we do when we allow ourselves time apart from them.

I hope I've been able to inspire you during today's Week of Thanks post to get offline and find motivation in the beauty of nature and good old-fashioned hard work. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 5


I couldn't possibly have a Week of Thanks without taking the time to say how incredibly thankful I am for my family. So much of my everyday inspiration is drawn from memories I've held onto from when I was a child, memories of my grandma teaching me how to embroider, of my mom stringing beads on a loom, or of my dad carving at or burning one thing or another.

My grandma was always keeping me busy with something creative. She showed me how to make animals out of beads, jewelry out of safety pins, dream-catchers, wind-spinners, and so many different projects that I could do if I put my heart into it. When I moved away, she would send me jewelry that I could take apart and make into other pieces. More recently, she sent me a vast array of buttons to add to my ever-growing collection. She did so much for me just by showing me that I could make things and giving me things to make with, and I'm thankful to have people like her in my life to support me in all of my crafty endeavors!

My dad was very much focused on our Native American heritage. In his spare time, he loved recreating the weapons, clothing, peace pipes, and decorum of our forefathers, and eventually he began building this passion into his own creative business from home. He would take the family to Pow-wows and buy cassette tapes of chanting, drumming natives. He loved to hunt and would use every piece of an animal that we didn't eat in his crafts. He made staves with brightly painted skulls mounted atop them, handbags out of turtle shells, and tanned hides from his own kills to make into leather shirts and dresses. We would wear these outfits in old-fashioned family photos taken in front of our authentic-looking teepee, which he also made. He taught me how to draw inspiration from the elements and how to protect myself from them.

Looking back, it seems strange that it took me so long to realize that this is the path I want to take with my life. I had never imagined following in my father's footsteps in such a way, and truly this was not my intention while planning my business. Since making this connection, I'm glad to know that I would have so much in common with my dad were he alive today. There were times in life after my father and other family members passed that I looked back and wondered if maybe I hadn't become a person that I'd like them to know. I'm thankful now that I believe I've become someone they would be proud of, and it's an honor to carry these memories with me in everything that I do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 4

Phew! I'm now over halfway through my very first series! Although it's a little difficult to keep my blog updated on the daily throughout Week of Thanks, it's been quite a pleasant and positive learning experience to stop and think about what makes life worthwhile. I'm also not very big on talking about myself, so this has helped me to open up and express myself in a way that I may not have been confident enough to do before!

Now moving on to the good stuff! There's a really important person in my life that I'm thankful for who makes everything possible. He's also very handsome. His name is Bradley.


Brad has helped me with pretty much everything. He fully supports me in all of my crazy goals and dreams, and gives me an extra kick in the rear when I need it. He believes in me when I don't, and makes me smile when I don't think I can. He puts up with me when I'm ackin' all cray-cray. There's not much else I could ask for in a human being. He's the very best one for me; I love him very much and I'm so very thankful to have found him.

Thank you for stopping by to celebrate my sappy Week of Thanks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 3


As my Week of Thanks celebration is taking place primarily on my blog, I find it only fitting that I take the time to be thankful for the blogging community. There are so many wonderfully creative and charming people in the Blogosphere that are always contributing and rarely asking for anything in return.

Bloggers are important to me as a whole because they help me to remember that there is a human with a smile and a dream behind every bright, glaring device screen, and that everything is made by a real person who cares truly and deeply about something. Bloggers contribute so much to the handmade community because blogging is in itself a handmade community, a community of sharing, inspiring, writing and reading. Our blogs are our homes away from home, our Rooms of Requirement* that can be molded into whatever type of space we need them to be. They are our journals and our memories.

The things that make blogging really worthwhile, however, are the people you're writing to, the people you're following, and the people who inspire you. It can be difficult at times to think that there are others out there making your dreams happen for them, but once you open up and learn to stop comparing yourself and instead to draw motivation from these brilliant individuals and their success stories, you learn how to be inspired by these friendly folks and look forward to hearing about them and learning from them. There truly is a community waiting for you once you take the time to find it, so thank you, for reading and making my blog everything that it can be.


*Yeah, I just dropped a Harry Potter reference. What?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 2


One thing that I'm thankful for is cats. This includes all of the cats everywhere, of course, but today I'll be focusing on the family cat, Lefty. Unfortunately, some of things Lefty does can be rather gory, and I will be touching on some of those those points today. I'll ask you to skip over the next paragraph if you are weak of heart or stomach, as I get just little bit graphic. If you are not a cat person, then you can go ahead and read the next paragraph. Maybe you'll learn some respect.

Lefty was an outdoor cat for some time. He is crass and tough, and sometimes gets rid of pests around the house. Because of this I can forgive him for occasionally leaving body parts on the floor - for example, I've found blood, a wiry mouse-tail, and a tiny little grey organ, which I truly believed to be a heart. I've seen him rip the skin and head clean off of a squirrel and completely eat the rest of it. He is a predator, and I respect that. I'd like to believe that he respects me, too. Perhaps it's for all the spiders he has watched me kill. I just don't eat them afterwards.

Despite being such a killy-predator-type, Lefty is soft and kind. He never turns down cuddles and always comes back for more love. He knows how to say that he wants attention better than I do. He also enjoys falling asleep in my lap and on top of our constantly-vibrating DVR.

Sometimes it's the little things in life that we need to take time to appreciate. Sometimes those little things can make very big changes in our lives, and sometimes those little things are cute and fluffy balls of fur. These are the things I'm thankful for.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Week of Thanks: Day 1



In the first installment of my Week of Thanks, I'm taking the time to be thankful for my home. If you read my first post on this blog, then you may know that I currently live with my boyfriend and his family on a very beautiful piece of land in Northeastern PA.

When we moved onto this property in September, it needed a bit of work. Bradley and I (with help from some family & friends) poured our hearts and souls into finishing the basement of this home and making it into a nest for the two of us, as well as my own little studio room in which to build my business. I now see what it means to truly love and appreciate the space I'm in and understand what it feels like to want to nurture that space and make it our own.

I cannot possibly express how thankful I am for having such a wonderful place to live in. I have been laid off and attempting to start my business from home for quite some time, but my attempts have not yet paid off. Brad's family is such a colorful and supportive bunch, and I'll never be able to thank them enough for sharing their loving home with me and accepting me as one of their own.

This is my message for the Meyers family: in the many months that I have lived with you all, you have supported me, guided me, inspired me, and put up with my crap; I'm happy to say that I love you and you have become my best friends. Thank you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Week of Thanks


Thanksgiving is just one week away! A chill is in the air as the holiday season approaches, and I tend to find myself just a little bit colder and a little bit hungrier, but much more thankful for what I have and the people with whom I share my life. Because of this, I'd like to introduce my Week of Thanks, a series in which I will be posting every day for the next week on what I'm thankful for and all the things that make life worth living!

You can find all of "Week of Thanks" posts here! Thanks for reading, and check back tomorrow for my very first in the series!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life Lately


Finally, Brad and I managed to move into our newly-finished basement! Things had been tough - we spent a whole bunch of time and energy transforming this into a place that we could call home, but it took us quite a bit longer than expected to seal our room from the outdoors. We have only been sleeping in here for a few days, but each time I lie down, I sleep like a stone. It may be from the satisfaction of seeing our beautiful living space come together, but it may also be the result of the constant maintenance that the room demands each day. One thing I know is that the change of scenery has been incredibly inspiring, and I'm dreaming up new ideas for our cozy little bedroom each day.

In the meantime, I've been writing two very special DIYs and sketching up some brand new items for the shop! I've been meaning to get some time to myself to explore the woods again and take some nature photos, or just to get outside while there's enough daylight for outfit pictures, but with my boyfriend-photographer working the night shift, it seems neither of us ever see the light of day. Unfortunately the same can be said of my brand new tripod that I've been wanting to break in.

This week, like every week, I'm striving to finish the projects that I've set out for myself and get organized in a major way. This includes making my studio a comfy place to craft and organize this chaos that is creativity.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Sometimes life sure does get the better of us, so it's good to know that I've got a place like this to unload when my own place starts to feel like a burden, and vice-versa. I wish you the best of luck in finding the inspiration and motivation to get through the coming holiday season. Cheers!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

DIY: Preparing images for the web in Adobe Photoshop

As a blogger or web developer, it's important to consider how the design of your website affects its users. If your layout consists of many images or you feature a good deal of photography on your blog, you could be taking up a lot of unnecessary space that can make your page's loading time drag on forever. Luckily, Adobe Photoshop has a way to prepare images for use on the web that will greatly decrease your file size without sacrificing image quality. Here's how!

Once your image is ready to be uploaded to your blog or site, select "Save for Web" or "Save for Web and Devices" from your File menu.


Here you can see how much smaller your image is just by saving and optimizing this way! You can also view your image's original file size and compare it to its potential size in other file formats from this window.



About file types

Choosing a file type is important! Some images contain fewer colors than others, and some have transparency. The file type you choose will differ depending on these circumstances.

PNG

I find that PNG format covers most of my needs for both photographs I'm sharing and web graphics that I'm using in my blog. It allows for transparency and supports interlacing. 

JPEG

JPEG can be used for photographs as well, although I often edit or resize these, which can cause a JPEG file to lose data or display grainy artifacts. I find that PNG-24 does the job of any file I'd otherwise save as a JPEG. 

GIF

You can choose a GIF format when you're working with web graphics, line art, and animations. I rarely use GIF format, unless I'm creating an animation.

Ideally, you should choose the file type that allows the best quality, but yields the smallest file size. If your image looks grainier than it did before you tried to save it, then you should opt for a file type that may be a bit larger. This isn't a huge issue, because saving your images this way optimizes them, which still considerably reduces your file size and download time. You can view up to four different file format options in the 4-up tab of the "Save for Web & Devices" menu, which can help you decide which file types will correctly display your image and at what size.


Once you've selected the proper file format, it's time to click "Save"! This will save your image as a copy, allowing your original file to remain untouched.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful! If you have any questions or need me to elaborate further on a topic, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Benton Falling

It's about that time now that the leaves have just about all fallen to the ground, and the ones that remain cling dead on the trees, having lost their luster. I always feel a certain emptiness when nature's colors fade out and the chill of winter creeps in. It hasn't helped that last week's "Frankenstorm" came in and left a slew of depressing, dark, and wet weather behind. In times like these it's convenient to have a little reminder that although nature can be harsh, it can still prove at times to be beautiful and kind.

As a farewell to fall, I'd like to present my recent photography project, Benton Falling. Throughout the season I've captured a few pictures from the same panoramic lookout of Benton, Pennsylvania. As a girl that was born in the plains, I will always find myself captivated the beauty of the Appalachians, and I hope that I can adequately express my adoration for that beauty today.






All in all, I'm very happy with the way this project turned out. My only regret is that I haven't taken as many pictures as I had intended. There were a few trips made in which I pulled out my camera only to realize my battery had died, but I'm happy with the photographs that I ended up with. If I do this again, I'd love to mark the spot that I'm shooting from so I can capture a consistent angle, and try to shoot around the same time each day as well.

I hope you have a great week! Thanks for reading!