About Me

Blogging Goals For 2016

I’m calling this post blogging goals for 2016 even though the goals aren’t just for blogging, and even though we’re already 2 and a half months into 2016. You’re okay with that right?!

Blogging Goals For 2016 at Jennifer Grace Creates

I did a post last year for my blogging goals in 2015, and though I didn’t achieve everything on the list, it certainly helped to get me focused. And I like putting my plans out there for you all to see, so you know what I’m up to behind the scenes, and what I have planned for the months ahead!

So, here’s the things I’d like to achieve in 2016…

Goal One: Make My Blog More Snazzy

Okay, I’m totally cheating with this one, as I’ve already pretty much completed this. But it was a blogging goal for 2016, I just happened to finish it before I wrote this post. I’ve been working super hard on it all weekend. If you are reading this post in an email or reader where you can’t see the whole blog, please pop by and take a look!

Here’s what the landing page looks like now:

 Jennifer Grace Creates New Blog Look

There were so many things I wanted to achieve, and I think I’ve managed most of them! I wanted: a logo I’d made entirely myself (drawing the text by hand rather than using a font), a home page with some welcome images / info on (rather than you just landing on the blog), a drop-down menu so that you can easily choose which project types or seasons you are interested in viewing, the menu to stay at the top of the page when you scroll down so it’s always accessible, a full width instagram widget in the footer, a sticky sidebar so when you are scrolling down a long post the sidebar doesn’t suddenly go empty, and just a slightly cleaner look – but without losing too much colour.

What do you think? Here’s a screenshot of the old home page for comparison:

 Jennifer Grace Creates - Screen Shot Of The Old Blog Look

If anyone is interested I used the Cabin Theme by Select Themes on Envato to help me build my new look.

Obviously I will keep playing around with things a bit but I’m pretty happy with the overall effect. Do let me know if you have any problems with navigation or page load times or anything though!

Goal Two: Work On My Etsy Shops

Yes, you did read that right – it’s plural. I now have 2 Etsy Shops. Because, you know, life wasn’t busy enough!

You already know about my Happy Scatter Etsy Shop, selling stencils and embellishments that I’ve designed and mostly made myself. I’ve been planning some more bits and pieces to add to that, including 8 mini-stencils that are 3″ square, but I’m just waiting for some more mylar to arrive before I can cut them and list them.

Mini Stencils at Happy Scatter

But what you probably don’t know about Happy Scatter is that I’ve recently created a Happy Scatter Instagram Account, and a Happy Scatter Blog!

The blog can be found at happyscatter.com and it looks a little like this at the moment:

Happy Scatter Blog

There’s a few posts on there which I wrote just to get it started, including a tutorial for this card using the Wood Slice Stencil:

Congratulations Card Using The Happy Scatter Wood Slice Stencil

At the moment I’ll just be posting my own projects using Happy Scatter items on there, but in the coming months I hope to get a design team going and start a monthly blog challenge, etc, so make sure you add it to your blog reader!

I created that blog using blogger and the Felicity Template by BlogShopbyGeorgiaLou on Etsy, in case you are wondering!

The Etsy shop which I haven’t mentioned on here yet is the one I just opened a couple of weeks ago. For a while I’ve been wanting to have another shop so that I could sell jewellery and gifts that I’ve made myself. I ordered tests for the wooden necklaces and pendants back in May last year, but then I started my part time librarian job in June, and then became the chair of the PTA at my kids school in September, and my plans got forgotten for a while. Then Etsy had a course called Etsy Resolution at the beginning of the year and it got me fired up again!

Here’s what the Jennifer Grace Creates Etsy Shop looks like:

Jennifer Grace Creates Etsy Shop

At the moment it just has a few designs of necklaces, earrings, and badges in it, but I plan to add more designs of these and also some other gifty bits.

One of the fun things about them is that you can choose the colours of the jewellery from a selection of paints, and I can add any names or phrases to the items, like on this Bunny Rabbit Necklace, perfect for Easter:

Custom Bunny Name Necklace at Jennifer Grace Creates

I won’t be blogging about that shop too often on here, but I will occasionally share if I’ve added a lot of new things or something. I will be sharing pics of items in it on my social media, but it’s not going to take over – my usual crafty projects and family photos will still be the bulk of it!

So my goal with my Etsy shops is just to keep working on them – keep adding new items and finding other ways to promote them. I love making items for them and I just want to do more, more, more!

Goal Three: Keep Networking

 Last year networking was one of my goals and I attended the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event in April, which was amazing fun (I wrote about it HERE). I believe CHA UK are doing Creative Exchanges again, but I’m not sure if I’m going this time as I think it’s in June, and in June I am already booked to go to Blogtacular!

Blogtacular

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. I have wanted to go for the last couple of years, and have been joining in the #blogtacular twitter chats on Wednesday nights at 9pm as much as I can. But I’ve never had the money for the ticket at the right time. So last summer I convinced hubby to buy me an early bird ticket for my birthday present – this means I’ve been excited for months now! It’s less than 100 days to go, and I’ve booked my accommodation for the Friday night so I can attend the Friday night party, so I can officially start jumping around with anticipation!

I also want to continue networking online, in particular I’d love to get better at reading more blogs and writing comments again. I used to be much better at this, at least I would catch up with blogs I loved once in a while, but now when I do read blogs it tends to be on my phone or tablet and I don’t take the time to leave a comment. Which is naughty, because I know how much I love comments!

I enjoyed watching Julie Kirk’s challenge to herself to Write 300 Comments In 30 Days, and the Things She Leaned From It, and whilst I think that’s too high a number for me to attempt, I’m sure I could manage more than I do. I might print off some kind of tally chart to keep by my computer and just see how much I  manage each month. I’ll see how it goes!

Goal Four: Keep Making Stuff

I thought this was an important one to include! Last year I wanted to try and write 5 posts a week, and right now that’s laughably impossible. But I do want to keep making and sharing projects on here as much as I can. I’m not going to promise a certain number or a particular schedule, and I’m still not sure if I’m going to host any kind of blog event this year. But I will promise to keep making stuff, and to keep posting it on here!

It’s going to continue with a mix of layouts, cards, DIY gifts, kids crafts, and more, because I love making lots of different things. But hopefully now that the top menu can help you filter out particular projects you will still enjoy stopping by to see the latest ones you are interested in, if it’s not all of them!

Mix Of Projects at Jennifer Grace Creates

Thank you so much for continuing to support Jennifer Grace Creates with your visits! Do you have any blogging or crafting goals for this year? Let me know. Maybe we can keep each other on track!

I hope you have a great day,

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews, Your Craft & Soul Events

Focus On The Props – Photo Styling

(This post is part of my Focus Your Craft & Soul Blog Event – see the list of all the posts HERE!)

You may have noticed that I’ve been attempting to make my photos a bit more arty and styled lately – using props rather than just photographing a project on a plain background. This is for several reasons – 1. I got a bit bored with the way I was doing things, 2. I wanted to emulate nicely styled photos like you see in magazines like Mollie Makes, 3. I noticed that things which get pinned more on Pinterest are often the ones with more props.

I still have a lot to learn, and I thought this event was a good excuse to practice a bit more and share what I’m doing!

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Here’s some of the photos I’ve posted recently using props:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I also used props to style my header for my Jennifer Grace Creates Facebook Page:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Adding the scissors was the ah-ha moment in the above photo!

On these pictures I’ve mainly been using crafty items as the props, but I want to start adding other pretty items too. One of my inspirations for adding more items is the #propstylers challenge on Instagram, set up by Georgie St. Clair and Christina Colli. Each month they challenge use to use a certain prop (for this month, May 2015, it’s ribbon) and style it in a gorgeous way, to post to instagram using the hashtag. You can see Georgie’s original post about the challenge HERE. If you click HERE you can see some of the recent #propstylers entries on Instagram. I thought I needed a plan of action to help me focus on this!

So I gathered up a basket full of bits and pieces:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Here they are all spread out. It include a big mix of items, large and small, and different sizes and colours – though I did keep it to more muted colours rather than bold and bright ones for now:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Note the little boxes of sequins and buttons – these wouldn’t be necessary for everyone but I think it’s good for me to use something I’m comfortable with, and so I can keep my scattered style!

I tried to create a styled photo straight away, using the ribbon prompt for the challenge. Plus I used an empty frame and a triangle button to keep in with my ‘focus’ theme for this weekend. I liked how the tarnished frame looked with the green flowers inside so I picked these out with a couple of other bits in the same hues:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

Which looked okay but I thought it needed something else to make it ‘pop’. So I added in a couple of coral-coloured buttons:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I liked this much better!

Next I decided to try and photograph my ‘On A Journey’ Brooch again with these new props. I also kept some ribbon in for the challenge, but wanted to do something different with it, so I wrapped it around a piece of slate:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I thought I’d try a different background surface, so I photographed the same set-up on a woodgrain patterned piece of paper:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

I’m not sure if I prefer this on white or on woodgrain, what do you think?

One tip I’ve learnt is it’s great to have a lump of Blu Tack to hand while you are styling. You can put a small piece under a curved object to stop it rolling around, or you can use it to keep things level – for example in the above photos the brooch is propped up at the top with a thick button and a piece of Blu Tack to keep it level with the slate:

Focus On The Props - Photo Styling

What do you think? Have you ever tried to add props to your photos? You could try photographing some of your favourite things, or a nice meal, or a new purchase, in an arty way like this, then use the photo for a scrapbook page!

Be Inspired:

Style a photo using some props

Wrap ribbon around something grungy / discoloured

Put some flowers inside an empty frame

Which of my styled photos do you like the best?

I’ll see you again soon for the last post of the day,

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

The CHA UK Creative Exchanges Scholarship Competition

Hey all. I just heard about a competition for UK crafters that I thought I’d to share with you, as it sounds exciting and is a bit different!

You may remember me mentioning in my Blogging Goals for 2015 blog post that I’m now a CHA UK member, and I will be going to the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event for designers / demonstrators / educators in the creative industry. It sounds like it’s going to be interesting and fun, and I can’t wait to go! If you thought you’d love to go too but you couldn’t afford it then read on, as one lucky person is going to win a place there…

CHA UK Creative Exchanges Scholarship Competition

CHA UK are currently holding a Creative Exchanges Scholarship Competition. All the details can be found HERE at the CHA UK Website, but here’s the important information:

One lucky winner will be awarded a fantastic career boosting bundle of prizes including a free place at the Creative Exchanges event as well as a range of craft supplies, work placements and mentoring. Two runners-up will also receive a prize of craft supplies as well as mentoring to help them boost their business for the year ahead.

The Creative Exchanges Scholarship competition is open to applicants from all creative fields including papercraft, soft crafts and cake decorating. To enter, simply send a brief overview of you, your business and your aspirations for the year ahead combined with your creative resume with a link to your blog or website and 2-3 examples of your work to creative-exchanges@cha-uk.co.uk

The closing date is the 31st of March 2015.

Because the main prize is a place at Creative Exchanges you should only enter the competition if you are available that weekend (18th – 20th April 2015) and able to travel to the venue near Coventry. If you’ve already paid for a place at the event and you win then you will be refunded. I will be entering too as I may as well give it a try! The winner will be publicly announced at Creative Exchanges, though they will have been told before that they have won so they know they need to come to the event.

If you’d like to further your crafting career and you are free that weekend then why not give it a try?!

If you are on Facebook there is a closed group where there are regular Q&A sessions, the next one is on Monday 2nd March between 12 and 1pm, and the theme is ‘the Creative Exchanges and the Scholarship Competition’. If you want to join in you can request to join the group HERE. The FB group is going to be for CHA UK members only eventually, but at the moment they are letting others join in for the Q&A’s. If you have any problems joining the group let me know.

That’s all, bye for now,

Jennifer x